James Monroe was an American statesman, lawyer, diplomat, and Founding Father who served as the fifth president of the United States from 1817 to 1825, a member of the Democratic-Republican Party.
121 Facts About James Monroe
James Monroe was the last president who was a Founding Father as well as the last president of the Virginia dynasty and the Republican Generation; his presidency coincided with the Era of Good Feelings, concluding the First Party System era of American politics.
James Monroe is perhaps best known for issuing the Monroe Doctrine, a policy of limiting European colonialism in the Americas.
James Monroe studied law under Thomas Jefferson from 1780 to 1783 and served as a delegate in the Continental Congress as a delegate to the Virginia Ratifying Convention.
James Monroe opposed the ratification of the United States Constitution.
James Monroe left the Senate in 1794 to serve as President George Washington's ambassador to France but was recalled by Washington in 1796.
James Monroe won the election as Governor of Virginia in 1799 and strongly supported Jefferson's candidacy in the 1800 presidential election.
James Monroe unsuccessfully challenged Madison for the Democratic-Republican nomination in the 1808 presidential election, but he joined Madison's administration as Secretary of State in 1811.
In 1823, James Monroe announced the United States' opposition to any European intervention in the recently independent countries of the Americas with the James Monroe Doctrine, which became a landmark in American foreign policy.
James Monroe was a member of the American Colonization Society which supported the colonization of Africa by freed slaves, and Liberia's capital of Monrovia is named in his honor.
James Monroe's father Spence Monroe was a moderately prosperous planter and slave owner who practiced carpentry.
Also among James Monroe's ancestors were French Huguenot immigrants, who came to Virginia in 1700.
At age 11, James Monroe was enrolled in Campbelltown Academy, the lone school in the county.
James Monroe attended this school only 11 weeks a year, as his labor was needed on the farm.
James Monroe's mother died in 1772, and his father two years later.
James Monroe became involved in the opposition to Lord Dunmore, the colonial governor of Virginia, and took part in the storming of the Governor's Palace.
In early 1776, about a year and a half after his enrollment, James Monroe dropped out of college and joined the 3rd Virginia Regiment in the Continental Army.
James Monroe was assigned to the staff of General William Alexander, Lord Stirling.
On Jones's advice, James Monroe returned to Williamsburg to study law, becoming a protege of Virginia Governor Thomas Jefferson.
James Monroe established a messenger network to coordinate with the Continental Army and other state militias.
Still unable to raise an army due to a lack of interested recruits, James Monroe traveled to his home in King George County, and thus was not present for the British raid of Richmond.
James Monroe resumed studying law under Jefferson and continued until 1783.
James Monroe was not particularly interested in legal theory or practice, but chose to take it up because he thought it offered "the most immediate rewards" and could ease his path to wealth, social standing, and political influence.
James Monroe was admitted to the Virginia bar and practiced in Fredericksburg, Virginia.
James Monroe was the daughter of Hannah Aspinwall Kortright and Laurence Kortright, a wealthy trader and former British officer.
James Monroe sold his small Virginia plantation in 1783 to enter law and politics.
James Monroe incurred debts by his lavish and expensive lifestyle and often sold property to pay them off.
James Monroe believed that slavery had become a permanent part of southern life, and that it could only be removed on providential terms.
James Monroe feared for public safety in the United States during the era of violent revolution on two fronts.
James Monroe was elected to the Virginia House of Delegates in 1782.
James Monroe had served a total of three years when he finally retired from that office by the rule of rotation.
In 1784, James Monroe undertook an extensive trip through Western New York and Pennsylvania to inspect the conditions in the Northwest.
James Monroe resigned from Congress in 1786 to focus on his legal career, and he became an attorney for the state.
In 1787, James Monroe won election to another term in the Virginia House of Delegates.
In 1788, James Monroe became a delegate to the Virginia Ratifying Convention.
Henry recruited James Monroe to run against Madison for a House seat in the First Congress, and he had the Virginia legislature draw a congressional district designed to elect James Monroe.
James Monroe stood firmly with Jefferson in opposing Hamilton's strong central government and strong executive.
The Democratic-Republican Party coalesced around Jefferson and Madison, and James Monroe became one of the fledgling party's leaders in the Senate.
James Monroe helped organize opposition to John Adams in the 1792 election, though Adams defeated George Clinton to win re-election as vice president.
James Monroe experienced several early diplomatic successes, including the protection of US trade from French attacks.
James Monroe used his influence to win the release of Thomas Paine and Adrienne de La Fayette, the wife of the Marquis de Lafayette.
Washington decided James Monroe was inefficient, disruptive, and failed to safeguard the national interest.
Jefferson and Madison urged James Monroe to run for Congress, but James Monroe chose to focus on state politics instead.
In 1798 James Monroe published A View of the Conduct of the Executive, in the Foreign Affairs of the United States: Connected with the Mission to the French Republic, During the Years 1794,5, and 6.
James Monroe followed the advice of his friend Robert Livingston who cautioned him to "repress every harsh and acrimonious" comment about Washington.
The investigators immediately dropped the matter, and James Monroe promised Hamilton he would keep the matter private.
James Monroe added that interview to his notes, and sent the entire set to a friend, possibly Thomas Jefferson, for safekeeping.
Five years later, shortly after James Monroe was recalled from France, Callender published accusations against Hamilton based on those notes.
James Monroe began to give State of the Commonwealth addresses to the legislature, in which he highlighted areas in which he believed the legislature should act.
James Monroe led an effort to create the state's first penitentiary, and imprisonment replaced other, often harsher, punishments.
In 1800, James Monroe called out the state militia to suppress Gabriel's Rebellion, a slave rebellion originating on a plantation six miles from the capital of Richmond.
Federalists were likewise suspicious of James Monroe, some viewing him at best as a French dupe and at worst a traitor.
James Monroe considered using the Virginia militia to force the outcome in favor of Jefferson.
Many of the sailors they impressed had never been British subjects, and James Monroe was tasked with persuading the British to stop their practice of impressment.
James Monroe found little success in this endeavor, partly due to Jefferson's alienation of the British minister to the United States, Anthony Merry.
On his return to Virginia in 1807, James Monroe received a warm reception, and many urged him to run in the 1808 presidential election.
Out of deference to Jefferson, James Monroe agreed to avoid actively campaigning for the presidency, but he did not rule out accepting a draft effort.
James Monroe did not publicly criticize Jefferson or Madison during Madison's campaign against Federalist Charles Cotesworth Pinckney, but he refused to support Madison.
James Monroe won 3,400 votes in Virginia, but received little support elsewhere.
James Monroe returned to the Virginia House of Burgesses and was elected to another term as governor in 1811, but served only four months.
Madison hoped that James Monroe, an experienced diplomat with whom he had once been close friends, would improve upon the performance of the previous Secretary of State, Robert Smith.
On taking office, James Monroe hoped to negotiate treaties with the British and French to end the attacks on American merchant ships.
James Monroe had long worked for peace with the British, but he came to favor war with Britain, joining with "war hawks" such as Speaker of the House Henry Clay.
The US Navy did experience several successes after James Monroe convinced Madison to allow the Navy's ships to set sail rather than remaining in port for the duration of the war.
James Monroe allowed Adams leeway in setting terms, so long as he ended the hostilities and preserved American neutrality.
James Monroe resigned as Secretary of State on October 1,1814, but no successor was ever appointed and thus from October 1814 to February 28,1815, James Monroe effectively held both Cabinet posts.
Now in command of the war effort, James Monroe ordered General Andrew Jackson to defend against a likely attack on New Orleans by the British, and he asked the governors of nearby states to send their militias to reinforce Jackson.
James Monroe called on Congress to draft an army of 100,000 men, increase compensation to soldiers, and establish a new national bank to ensure adequate funding for the war effort.
Months after James Monroe took office as Secretary of War, the war ended with the signing of the Treaty of Ghent.
James Monroe decided to seek the presidency in the 1816 election, and his war-time leadership had established him as Madison's heir apparent.
James Monroe had strong support from many in the party, but his candidacy was challenged at the 1816 Democratic-Republican congressional nominating caucus.
James Monroe received 183 of the 217 electoral votes, winning every state but Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Delaware.
James Monroe largely ignored old party lines in making federal appointments, which reduced political tensions and augmented the sense of "oneness" that pervaded the United States.
James Monroe made two long national tours to build national trust.
James Monroe appointed a geographically balanced cabinet, through which he led the executive branch.
James Monroe chose to retain Benjamin Crowninshield of Massachusetts as Secretary of the Navy and Richard Rush of Pennsylvania as Attorney General.
An experienced diplomat, Adams had abandoned the Federalist Party in 1807 in support of Thomas Jefferson's foreign policy, and James Monroe hoped that the appointment would encourage the defection of more Federalists.
James Monroe believed that the young nation needed an improved infrastructure, including a transportation network to grow and thrive economically, but did not think that the Constitution authorized Congress to build, maintain, and operate a national transportation system.
James Monroe repeatedly urged Congress to pass an amendment allowing Congress the power to finance internal improvements, but Congress never acted on his proposal, in part because many congressmen believed that the Constitution did in fact authorize the federal financing of internal improvements.
Two years into his presidency, James Monroe faced an economic crisis known as the Panic of 1819, the first major depression to hit the country since the ratification of the Constitution in 1788.
James Monroe lacked the power to intervene directly in the economy, as banks were largely regulated by the states, and he could do little to stem the economic crisis.
When Congress finally reconvened in December 1819, James Monroe requested an increase in the tariff but declined to recommend specific rates.
James Monroe expanded trade and pacified relations with Great Britain while expanding the United States at the expense of the Spanish Empire, from which he obtained Florida and the recognition of a border across the continent.
James Monroe pursued warmer relations with Britain in the aftermath of the War of 1812.
James Monroe was deeply sympathetic to the Latin American revolutionary movements against Spain.
James Monroe was determined that the United States should never repeat the policies of the Washington administration during the French Revolution, when the nation had failed to demonstrate its sympathy for the aspirations of peoples seeking to establish republican governments.
James Monroe did not envisage military involvement in Latin American affairs, but only the provision of moral support, as he believed that a direct American intervention would provoke other European powers into assisting Spain.
James Monroe initially refused to recognize the Latin American governments due to ongoing negotiations with Spain over Florida.
In March 1822, James Monroe officially recognized the countries of Argentina, Peru, Colombia, Chile, and Mexico, all of which had won independence from Spain.
Secretary of State Adams, under James Monroe's supervision, wrote the instructions for the ministers to these new countries.
James Monroe took pride as the United States was the first nation to extend recognition and to set an example to the rest of the world for its support of the "cause of liberty and humanity".
James Monroe argued that the British were not committed to recognizing the Latin American republics and must have had imperial motivations themselves.
On December 2,1823, in his annual message to Congress, James Monroe articulated what became known as the James Monroe Doctrine.
James Monroe first reiterated the traditional US policy of neutrality with regard to European wars and conflicts.
James Monroe then declared that the United States would not accept the recolonization of any country by its former European master, though he avowed non-interference with existing European colonies in the Americas.
James Monroe did so because he thought Monroe was incompetent.
Five new states were admitted to the Union while James Monroe was in office:.
When his presidency ended on March 4,1825, James Monroe resided at Monroe Hill, what is included in the grounds of the University of Virginia.
James Monroe served on the university's Board of Visitors under Jefferson and under the second rector James Madison, both former presidents, almost until his death.
James Monroe incurred many unliquidated debts during his years of public life.
James Monroe was one of four delegates elected from the senatorial district made up of his home district of Loudoun and Fairfax County.
James Monroe's health began to slowly fail by the end of the 1820s.
On July 4,1831, James Monroe died at age 73 from heart failure and tuberculosis, thus becoming the third president to have died on Independence Day.
James Monroe's death came 55 years after the United States Declaration of Independence was proclaimed and five years after the deaths of John Adams and Thomas Jefferson.
James Monroe was originally buried in New York at the Gouverneur family's vault in the New York City Marble Cemetery.
The James Monroe Tomb is a US National Historic Landmark.
James Monroe was raised in a family that belonged to the Church of England when it was the state church in Virginia before the Revolution.
Unlike Jefferson, James Monroe was rarely attacked as an atheist or infidel.
James Monroe took several slaves with him to Washington to serve at the White House from 1817 to 1825.
At the convention, James Monroe made his final public statement on slavery, proposing that Virginia emancipate and deport its bondsmen with "the aid of the Union".
When James Monroe was Governor of Virginia in 1800, hundreds of slaves from Virginia planned to kidnap him, take Richmond, and negotiate for their freedom.
James Monroe called out the militia; the slave patrols soon captured some slaves accused of involvement.
James Monroe influenced the Executive Council to pardon and sell some slaves instead of hanging them.
James Monroe was active in the American Colonization Society, which supported the establishment of colonies outside of the United States for free African Americans.
James Monroe presided over a period in which the United States began to turn away from European affairs and towards domestic issues.
James Monroe's presidency saw the United States settle many of its longstanding boundary issues through an accommodation with Britain and the acquisition of Florida.
James Monroe helped resolve sectional tensions through his support of the Missouri Compromise and by seeking support from all regions of the country.
Political scientist Fred Greenstein argues that James Monroe was a more effective executive than some of his better-known predecessors, including Madison and John Adams.
The capital of Liberia is named Monrovia after James Monroe; it is the only national capital other than Washington, DC named after a US president.
James Monroe was the last US president to wear a powdered wig tied in a queue, a tricorne hat and knee-breeches according to the style of the late 18th century.
James Monroe was the last president who was not photographed.