James Monroe: Wikis


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James Monroe

In office
March 4, 1817 – March 4, 1825
Vice President Daniel D. Tompkins
Preceded by James Madison
Succeeded by John Quincy Adams

In office
April 2, 1811 – September 30, 1814
February 28, 1815 – March 4, 1817
President James Madison
Preceded by Robert Smith
Succeeded by John Quincy Adams

In office
September 27, 1814 – March 2, 1815
President James Madison
Preceded by John Armstrong, Jr.
Succeeded by William H. Crawford

In office
January 16, 1811 – April 5, 1811
Preceded by George William Smith
Succeeded by George William Smith

In office
December 19, 1799 – December 1, 1802
Preceded by James Wood
Succeeded by John Page

In office
November 9, 1790 – March 29, 1794
Preceded by John Walker
Succeeded by Stevens T. Mason

In office
President George Washington
Preceded by Gouverneur Morris
Succeeded by Charles C. Pinckney

In office
President Thomas Jefferson
Preceded by Rufus King
Succeeded by William Pinkney

Born April 28, 1758(1758-04-28)
Westmoreland County, Virginia
Died July 4, 1831 (aged 73)
New York, New York
Nationality American
Political party Democratic-Republican
Spouse(s) Elizabeth Kortright Monroe
Alma mater The College of William and Mary
Occupation Lawyer Farmer/Planter
Religion Episcopal
Military service
Service/branch Continental Army
Rank Major
Battles/wars American War of Independence

James Monroe (April 28, 1758 – July 4, 1831) was the 5th President of the United States, serving two terms from 1817 to 1825. His presidency was marked both by an "Era of Good Feelings" – a period of relatively little partisan strife – and later by the Panic of 1819 and a fierce national debate over the admission of the Missouri Territory.[1] Monroe is most noted for his proclamation in 1823 of the Monroe Doctrine, which stated that the United States would not tolerate further European intervention in the Americas.[1][2]

Born in Westmoreland County, Virginia, Monroe fought in the American Revolutionary War.[1] After studying law under Thomas Jefferson from 1780 to 1783, he served in the Continental Congress.[2][3] As a delegate to the Virginia convention that considered ratification of the United States Constitution, Monroe opposed ratification, claiming it gave too much power to the central government[4]. Nonetheless, Monroe took an active part in the new government and in 1790 he was elected to the Senate. A strong anti-Federalist, Monroe allied with the Jeffersonians.[5] He gained experience as an executive as the Governor of Virginia and rose to national prominence when he helped negotiate the Louisiana Purchase in 1803.[2][5]

Between 1811 and 1815, Monroe served as the 7th Secretary of State[5] and the 8th Secretary of War[3] under President James Madison. Facing little opposition from the fractured Federalist Party, Monroe was easily elected president in 1816, winning over 80 percent of the electoral vote.[6] As president, he sought to ease partisan tensions and embarked on a tour of the country shortly after his inauguration. The so-called "Era of Good Feelings" that ensued was short-lived.[3] The Panic of 1819 struck and the dispute over the admission of Missouri embroiled the country in 1820.[1] Nonetheless, Monroe overwhelmingly won reelection that year. In 1823, he announced the Monroe Doctrine. The doctrine was a landmark in his presidency and in American foreign policy. Following his retirement in 1825, Monroe was plagued by financial difficulties. He died in New York City on July 4, 1831.[1]


Early years

James Monroe was born on April 28, 1758, in a wooded area of Westmoreland County, Virginia. The site is marked and is one mile from what is known today as Monroe Hall, Virginia.

Monroe's father, Spence Monroe (1727–1774) was a moderately prosperous planter who also learned the carpentry trade. His mother, Elizabeth Jones Monroe (1730–1774), married Spence Monroe in 1752. They had five children live to maturity:

  • Elizabeth Monroe Buckner — of Caroline County, Virginia
  • James Monroe
  • Spence Monroe, Jr. - Died at age 1
  • Andrew Monroe — of Albemarle County, Virginia
  • Joseph Jones Monroe — clerk of the District Court of Northumberland County, Virginia; private secretary to President Monroe; later settled in Missouri.

His paternal 2nd great-grandfather immigrated to America from Scotland in the mid-17th century.[7] Major Andrew Monroe (16-1688) who was descended from Robert Munro, 14th Baron of Foulis, chief of an ancient Scottish highland clan.[8] In 1650 Andrew Monroe patented a large tract of land in Washington Parish, Westmoreland County, Virginia.[9][10]


Between the ages of 11 and 16, Monroe studied at Campbelltown Academy, a school run by the Reverend Archibald Campbell of Washington Parish. There he excelled as a prodigious pupil and progressed through Latin and mathematics at a rate faster than that of most boys his age. John Marshall, later Chief Justice of the United States, was among his classmates. At the age of 16, Monroe enrolled in the College of William and Mary. However in 1774, the atmosphere on the Williamsburg campus was not conducive to study, and the prospect of rebellion against King George charged most of the students, including Monroe, with patriotic fervor. In June 1775, after the battles of Lexington and Concord, Monroe joined 24 older men in raiding the arsenal at the Governor's Palace. The 200 muskets and 300 swords they appropriated helped arm the Williamsburg militia. The following spring, Monroe dropped out of college and joined the Continental army. He never returned to earn a degree. Between 1780 and 1783, he studied law under Thomas Jefferson.[11]

Monroe fought in the War of Independence, serving with distinction at the Battle of Trenton, where he was shot in his left shoulder. He spent three months in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, recuperating from his wound.

He is depicted holding the flag in the famous painting of Washington Crossing the Delaware. Following his war service, he practiced law in Fredericksburg, Virginia.[12][13]

Home life

James Monroe married Elizabeth Kortright (1768–1830), daughter of Laurence Kortright and Hannah Aspinwall Kortright, on February 16, 1786, in New York City. After a brief honeymoon on Long Island, the Monroes returned to New York to live with her father until Congress adjourned. The Monroes had the following children:

  • Eliza Monroe Hay (1786–1835) - married George Hay in 1808 and substituted as official White House host for her ailing mother.
  • James Spence Monroe (1799–1801)
  • Maria Hester Monroe Gouverneur (1803–1850) - married her second cousin Samuel L. Gouverneur on March 8, 1820, in the first wedding ever performed in the White House.
Marker designating the site of James Monroe's birthplace in Monroe Hall, Virginia

Monroe fulfilled his youthful dream of becoming the owner of a large plantation and wielding great political power, but his efforts in agriculture were never profitable. He sold his small inherited Virginia plantation in 1783 to enter law and politics, and though he owned land and slaves and speculated in property he was rarely on-site to oversee the operation. Therefore the slaves were treated harshly to make them more productive and the plantations barely supported themselves if at all. His lavish lifestyle often necessitated selling property to pay debts.[14]


Monroe was elected to the Virginia House of Delegates in 1782 and served in the Continental Congress from 1783 to 1786.

In Virginia the struggle in 1788 over the ratification of the proposed new Constitution involved far more than a simple clash between federalists and anti-federalists. Virginians held a full spectrum of opinions about the merits of the proposed change in national government. George Washington and James Madison were leading supporters; Patrick Henry and George Mason were leading opponents. The central actors in the ratification fight were those who held the middle ground in the ideological struggle. Led by Monroe and Edmund Pendleton, these "federalists who are for amendments," criticized the absence of a bill of rights and worried about surrendering taxation powers to the central government. Virginia ratified the Constitution in June 1788, largely because these men suspended their reservations and vowed to press for changes after the new government had been established.[15]

Virginia narrowly ratified the Constitution and Monroe ran for a House seat in the 1st Congress but was defeated by Madison. In 1790 he was elected United States Senator. He soon joined the "Democratic-Republican" faction led by Jefferson and Madison and by 1791 was the party leader in the Senate.[16]


Ambassador to France

Monroe resigned his Senate seat after being appointed Minister to France in 1794.[17] As ambassador, Monroe secured the release of Thomas Paine when the latter was arrested for his opposition to the execution of Louis XVI.

He managed to free all the Americans held in French prisons, including Madame Lafayette. He issued American passports for the Lafayette family, (since they had been granted Citizenship), before she traveled to Lafayette's place of imprisonment, in Olmutz.[18]

A strong friend of the French Revolution, Monroe tried to assure France that Washington's policy of strict neutrality did not favor Britain. But American policy had come to favor Britain, and Monroe was stunned by the signing of the Jay Treaty in London. With France and Britain at war, the Jay Treaty alarmed and angered the French. Washington discharged Monroe from his office as Minister to France due to inefficiency, disruptive maneuvers, and failure to safeguard the interests of his country.[19]

Monroe had long been concerned about untoward foreign influence on the presidency. He was alarmed at Spanish diplomat Don Diego de Gardoqui who in 1785 tried to convince Congress to allow Spain to close the Mississippi River to American traffic for 30 years. Here Monroe saw Spain overinfluencing the republic, which could have risked the loss of the Southwest or dominance of the Northeast[20]. Monroe placed faith in a strong presidency and the system of checks and balances. In the 1790s he fretted over an aging George Washington being too heavily influenced by close advisers like Hamilton who was too close to Britain. Monroe favored France and so opposed the Jay Treaty in 1795. He was humiliated when Washington criticized him for his support of revolutionary France while he was minister to France[21]. He saw foreign and Federalist elements in the genesis of the Quasi War of 1798–1800 and in efforts to keep Thomas Jefferson away from the presidency in 1801. As governor he considered using the Virginia militia to force the outcome in favor of Jefferson[22]. Federalists responded in kind, some seeing Monroe as at best a French dupe and at worst a traitor. Monroe thus contributed to a paranoid style of politics.[23]

Governor of Virginia and Diplomat

Out of office, Monroe returned to practicing law in Virginia until elected governor there, serving from 1799 to 1802. He called out the state militia to suppress Gabriel's Rebellion. Gabriel and 26 other enslaved people who participated were hanged. In reaction, the Virginia and other legislatures passed restrictions on free blacks and the education, movement and hiring out of the enslaved.

Under the first Jefferson administration, Monroe was dispatched to France to assist Robert R. Livingston to negotiate the Louisiana Purchase. Monroe was then appointed Minister to the Court of St. James (Britain) from 1803 to 1807. In 1806 he negotiated a treaty with Britain to replace the Jay Treaty of 1794, but Jefferson rejected it in 1807 as unsatisfactory, as the treaty contained no ban on the British practice of impressment of American sailors. As a result, the two nations moved closer toward the War of 1812.

"Old Republicans" in the South, who claimed to adhere to the traditional party "principles of 1798", tried to coopt Monroe and have him elected president in the 1808 election. John Randolph of Roanoke took the lead in the movement to thwart President Jefferson's choice of James Madison as his successor. Jefferson had snubbed Monroe on foreign policy in 1807 and thereby alienated Monroe from the administration. Regular Democratic-Republican control of key Virginia politicians, along with several other factors, however, insured Madison's 1808 electoral success.[24]

Cabinet Secretary

Monroe returned to the Virginia House of Delegates and was elected to another term as governor of Virginia in 1811 but served only four months. In April 1811 he became Secretary of State. When he was appointed to the post of Secretary of War in September 1814, he stayed on for three more days as the Secretary of State as well. He left his position as Secretary of State on October 1 but no successor was ever appointed. Thus from October 1, 1814, to February 28, 1815, Monroe effectively held both cabinet posts. At the end of February 1815 Monroe resigned as Secretary of War and was formally reappointed Secretary of State. Monroe stayed on as Secretary of State until the end of the James Madison Presidency, and the following day Monroe began his term as the new President of the United States.

Presidency 1817–1825: The Era of Good Feelings

During the administrations of Jefferson and Madison the congressional nominating caucus experienced little opposition. However in 1816, this situation changed. Not only Federalists objected to the caucus system but so did an indeterminate number of anti-Virginia Republicans led by the New York delegation. Disorganization and failure to agree on William H. Crawford, Daniel Tompkins, Henry Clay, or another possible contender weakened opposition to Monroe. The boycott by Virginia delegates of the March 12 caucus removed opponents' chances and Monroe received the caucus nomination four days later.[25] With the Federalist Party in disarray due to the unpopularity of their opposition to the War of 1812, he was easily elected.[26] The Federalists did not even name a candidate, though Rufus King of New York did run in opposition to Monroe under the Federalist banner.[26] King carried but three states (Connecticut, Delaware, and Massachusetts) and won only 34 of 217 electoral votes cast.[26] (See United States presidential election, 1816.)

The collapse of the Federalists left Monroe with no organized opposition at the end of his first term, and he ran for reelection unopposed,[26] the only president other than Washington to do so. A single elector from New Hampshire cast a vote for John Quincy Adams, preventing a unanimous vote in the electoral college.[26] (See United States presidential election, 1820.)

Appointments and politics

He made balanced Cabinet choices, naming a southerner, John C. Calhoun, as Secretary of War, and a northerner, John Quincy Adams, as Secretary of State. Only Henry Clay's refusal to accept a position kept Monroe from adding an outstanding westerner. Most appointments went to deserving Democratic-Republicans, but he did not try to use them to build the party's base. He allowed the lower posts to take on diverse political appointees, which reduced anxiety and led to the naming of this period in American history as the "Era of Good Feelings." To build national trust, he made two long national tours in 1817. Frequent stops allowed innumerable ceremonies of welcome and good will. All the while the Federalist Party continued to diminish. The party maintained its vitality and organizational integrity at the state and local level but dwindled at the federal level due to redistricting. The party's Congressional caucus stopped meeting, and there were no notable national conventions after Monroe's last term.

Internal Improvements

During his presidency, Congress demanded high subsidies for internal improvements, such as for the improvement of the Cumberland Road.[27] Monroe vetoed the Cumberland Road Bill, which provided for yearly improvements to the road, because he believed it to be unconstitutional for the government to have such a large hand in what was essentially a civics bill deserving of attention on a state by state basis. This defiance underlined Monroe's populist ideals and added credit to the local offices that he was so fond of visiting on his speech trails.[28]

Missouri Compromise

The era of "good feelings" endured until 1824, and carried over to John Quincy Adams who was elected President by the House of Representatives in what Andrew Jackson alleged to be a "corrupt bargain." Monroe's popularity, however, was undiminished even when following difficult nationalist policies as the country's commitment to nationalism was starting to show serious fractures. The Panic of 1819 caused a painful economic depression. The application for statehood by the Missouri Territory, in 1819, as a slave state failed. An amended bill for gradually eliminating slavery in Missouri precipitated two years of bitter debate in Congress. The Missouri Compromise bill resolved the struggle, pairing Missouri as a slave state with Maine, a free state, and barring slavery north of the latitude 36/30' N forever. The Missouri Compromise lasted until 1857, when it was declared unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court as part of the Dred Scott decision.

Foreign policy

Monroe Doctrine

After the Napoleonic wars (which ended in 1815), almost all of Latin America revolted against Spanish or Portuguese rule and declared independence.[29] Americans welcomed this development as a validation of the the spirit of Republicanism. Adams suggested delay in formal recognition until Florida was secured in 1819. The whole problem of imperial invasion was intensified by a Russian claim to the Pacific coast down to the fifty-first parallel and simultaneous European pressure to have all of Latin America returned to its colonial status.

In March 1822 Monroe informed Congress that permanent stable governments had been established in the United Provinces of La Plata (present-day Argentina), Chile, Peru, Colombia, and Mexico. Adams, under Monroe's supervision, wrote the instructions for the ministers (ambassadors) to these new countries. They declared that the policy of the United States was to uphold republican institutions and to seek treaties of commerce on a most-favored-nation basis. The United States would support inter-American congresses dedicated to the development of economic and political institutions fundamentally differing from those prevailing in Europe. The articulation of an "American system" distinct from that of Europe was a basic tenet of Monroe's policy toward Latin America. 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."

In his message to Congress on December 2, 1823, Monroe formally announced what was later called the Monroe Doctrine. He proclaimed the Americas should be free from future European colonization and free from European interference in sovereign countries' affairs. It further stated the United States' intention to stay neutral in European wars and wars between European powers and their colonies, but to consider new colonies or interference with independent countries in the Americas as hostile acts toward the United States.

Although it is Monroe's most famous contribution to history, the speech was written by Secretary of State John Quincy Adams, who designed the doctrine in cooperation with Britain.[30] Monroe and Adams realized that American recognition would not protect the new countries against military intervention to restore Spain's power. In October 1823 Richard Rush, the American minister in London, advised that Foreign Secretary George Canning was proposing that the U.S. and Britain jointly declare their opposition to European intervention. Britain, with its powerful navy, also opposed re-conquest of Latin America and suggested that the United States join in proclaiming a "hands off" policy. Galvanized by the British initiative, Monroe consulted with American leaders and then he and Adams formulated a plan. Ex-Presidents Jefferson and Madison counseled Monroe to accept the offer, but Adams advised, "It would be more candid ... to avow our principles explicitly to Russia and France, than to come in as a cock-boat in the wake of the British man-of-war." Monroe accepted Adams' advice. Not only must Latin America be left alone, he warned, but also Russia must not encroach southward on the Pacific coast. "...the American continents," he stated, "by the free and independent condition which they have assumed and maintain, are henceforth not to be considered as subjects for future colonization by any European Power."

In 1823 the Monroe Doctrine pertained more to the Russians in North America than to the former Spanish colonies in South America. The result was a system of American isolationism under the sponsorship of the British navy. The Monroe Doctrine held that the United States considered the Western Hemisphere as no longer a place for European colonization; that any future effort to gain further political control in the hemisphere or to violate the independence of existing states would be treated as an act of hostility; and finally that there existed two different and incompatible political systems in the world. Therefore the United States promised to refrain from intervention in European affairs and demanded Europe to abstain from interfering with American matters. In the event there were few serious European attempts at intervention.[31]

Spain and Florida

The relations with Spain over the purchase of Florida proved to be more troublesome, especially after General Andrew Jackson invaded that territory on what he believed to be the president's authorization, which Monroe later denied giving. But largely through the skillful work of John Quincy Adams, a treaty was signed with Spain in 1819 by which Florida was ceded to the United States in return for the assumption of $5,000,000 in claims and the relinquishment of any claims to Texas.[32]

Monroe began to formally recognize the young sister republics (the former Spanish colonies) in 1822. He and Adams had wished to avoid trouble with Spain until it had ceded the Floridas to the U.S., which was done in 1821.

Native American Policies

Monroe sparked a constitutional controversy when, in 1817, he sent General Andrew Jackson to move against Spanish Florida to pursue hostile Seminole Indians and punish the Spanish for aiding them. News of Jackson's exploits ignited a congressional investigation of the 1st Seminole War. Dominated by Democratic-Republicans, the 15th Congress was generally expansionist and more likely to support the popular Jackson. Ulterior political agendas of many congressmen dismantled partisan and sectional coalitions, so that Jackson's opponents argued weakly and became easily discredited. After much debate, the House of Representatives voted down all resolutions that condemned Jackson in any way, thus implicitly endorsing Monroe's actions and leaving the issue surrounding the role of the executive with respect to war powers unanswered.[33]

Monroe believed that the Indians must progress from the hunting stage to become an agricultural people, noting in 1817, "A hunter or savage state requires a greater extent of territory to sustain it than is compatible with progress and just claims of civilised life."[34] His proposals to speed up the assimilation process were ignored by Congress.[35]

Administration and Cabinet

The Monroe Cabinet
Office Name Term
President James Monroe 1817–1825
Vice President Daniel D. Tompkins 1817–1825
Secretary of State John Quincy Adams 1817–1825
Secretary of Treasury William H. Crawford 1817–1825
Secretary of War John C. Calhoun 1817–1825
Attorney General Richard Rush 1817
William Wirt 1817–1825
Secretary of the Navy Benjamin W. Crowninshield 1817–1818
Smith Thompson 1819–1823
Samuel L. Southard 1823–1825

Supreme Court appointments

Monroe appointed Smith Thompson to the Supreme Court of the United States.

States admitted to the Union

Later life

When his presidency was over on March 4, 1825, James Monroe lived at Monroe Hill on the grounds of the University of Virginia. This university's modern campus was Monroe's family farm from 1788 to 1817, but he had sold it in the first year of his presidency to the new college. He served on the college's Board of Visitors under Jefferson and then under the second rector and another former President James Madison, until his death.

Monroe had racked up many debts during his years of public life. As a result, he was forced to sell off his Highland Plantation (now called Ash Lawn-Highland; it is owned by his alma mater, the College of William and Mary, which has opened it to the public). Throughout his life, he was not financially solvent, and his wife's poor health made matters worse.[36]

For these reasons, he and his wife lived in Oak Hill, Virginia, until Elizabeth's death on September 23, 1830. In August 1825, the Marquis de Lafayette and President John Quincy Adams, were guests of the Monroes there.[37]


Upon Elizabeth's death in 1830, Monroe moved to New York City to live with his daughter Maria Hester Monroe Gouverneur who had married Samuel L. Gouverneur in the first White House wedding. In April 1831, John Quincy Adams visited him there.[38]

Monroe died there from heart failure and tuberculosis on July 4, 1831, becoming the third president to die on July 4. His death came 55 years after the U.S. Declaration of Independence was proclaimed and 5 years after the death of the Presidents John Adams and Thomas Jefferson. He was originally buried in New York at the Gouverneur family's vault in the New York City Marble Cemetery. Twenty-seven years later in 1858 the body was re-interred to the President's Circle at the Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond, Virginia. The James Monroe Tomb is a U.S. National Historic Landmark.

Religious beliefs

"When it comes to Monroe's ..thoughts on religion," Bliss Isely comments in his The Presidents: Men of Faith, "less is known than that of any other President." He burned much of his correspondence with his wife, and no letters survive in which he might have discussed his religious beliefs. Nor did his friends, family or associates write about his beliefs. Letters that do survive, such as ones written after the death of his son, contain no discussion of religion.

Monroe was raised in a family that belonged to the Church of England when it was the state church in Virginia and as an adult frequently attended Episcopalian churches, though there is no record he ever took communion.[11] He has been classified by some historians as a Deist, and he did use deistic language to refer to God. Jefferson had been attacked as an atheist and infidel for his deistic views, but never Monroe.

As Secretary of State Monroe dismissed Mordecai Manuel Noah from his post as consul to Tunis in 1815, for the apparent reason that he was Jewish.[39] Noah protested and gained letters from Adams, Jefferson, and Madison supporting church-state separation and tolerance for Jews.[40]


As governor of Virginia from 1799 to 1802, Monroe took a cautious position on a slave uprising in Southampton County in October 1799. Monroe took pains to see that the charged rebels received proper legal treatment before they were executed, demonstrating a marked concern for their legal rights. He conducted an exhaustive investigation into the incident and saw to it the slaves involved received a fair trial.

Monroe's governorship is best known for the violent suppression of "Gabriel's slave conspiracy" in 1800, in which freedom-seeking slaves from Henrico and neighboring counties plotted to burn the capital, Richmond, kill its white slaveholders, and kidnap Governor Monroe. The rebellion was quickly crushed, and over 30 blacks were executed in its aftermath. Monroe again took an unpopular position in supporting fair trials and attempting to explain and justify slave actions.

As president of Virginia's constitutional convention in the fall of 1829, Monroe reiterated his belief that slavery was a blight which, even as a British colony, Virginia had attempted to eradicate. "What was the origin of our slave population?" he rhetorically asked. "The evil commenced when we were in our Colonial state, but acts were passed by our Colonial Legislature, prohibiting the importation, of more slaves, into the Colony. These were rejected by the Crown." To the extreme chagrin of states' rights proponents, he was even willing to accept the federal government's financial assistance in emancipating and deporting the slaves. At the convention, Monroe made his final public statement on slavery, proposing that Virginia emancipate and deport its bondsmen with "the aid of the Union."

Although he opposed abolition, Monroe was a leading supporter of African colonization proposals as vice president of the Richmond branch of the American Colonization Society, and the capital of Liberia was named Monrovia after him. He favored gradual, compensated emancipation. Monroe was a planter and a slave owner who believed in the eventual peaceful end of slavery.[41]


Since its 1824 renaming in his honor, the capital city of the West African country of Liberia has been named Monrovia. It is the only non-American capital city named after a U.S. President.


Monroe was the last U.S. President to wear a powdered wig and knee breeches according to the men's fashion of the eighteenth century.[42][43]


Presidential Dollar of James Monroe
Statue of Monroe at Ash Lawn-Highland

"It is only when the people become ignorant and corrupt, when they degenerate into a populace, that they are incapable of exercising their sovereignty. Usurpation is then an easy attainment, and an usurper soon found. The people themselves become the willing instruments of their own debasement and ruin."

"The best form of government is that which is most likely to prevent the greatest sum of evil."[44]

"Never did a government commence under auspices so favorable, nor ever was success so complete. If we look to the history of other nations, ancient or modern, we find no example of a growth so rapid, so gigantic, of a people so prosperous and happy."

"In this great nation there is but one order, that of the people, whose power, by a peculiarly happy improvement of the representative principle, is transferred from them, without impairing in the slightest degree their sovereignty, to bodies of their own creation, and to persons elected by themselves, in the full extent necessary for the purposes of free, enlightened, and efficient government."

"The earth was given to mankind to support the greatest number of which it is capable, and no tribe or people have a right to withhold from the wants of others more than is necessary for their own support and comfort."

See also


  • Ammon, Harry. James Monroe: The Quest for National Identity. (1971, 2nd ed. 1990). 706 pp. standard scholarly biography excerpt and text search
  • Ammon, Harry. "James Monroe" in Henry F. Graff ed., The Presidents: A Reference History (1997)
  • Bemis, Samuel Flagg. John Quincy Adams and the Foundations of American Foreign Policy (1949), the standard history of Monroe's foreign policy.
  • Cunningham, Noble E., Jr. The Presidency of James Monroe. 1996. 246 pp. standard scholarly survey
  • Dangerfield, George. Era of Good Feelings (1953) excerpt and text search
  • Dangerfield, George. The Awakening of American Nationalism: 1815 - 1828 (1965) standard scholarly survey excerpt and text search
  • Elkins, Stanley M. and Eric McKitrick. The Age of Federalism (1995). most advanced analysis of the politics of the 1790s. online edition
  • Heidler, David S. "The Politics of National Aggression: Congress and the First Seminole War," Journal of the Early Republic 1993 13(4): 501–530. in JSTOR
  • Finkelman, Paul, ed. Encyclopedia of the New American Nation, 1754–1829 (2005), 1600 pp.
  • Gilman, Daniel Coit. James Monroe (1911) 312 pages; old barely adequate biography. online edition
  • Hart, Gary. James Monroe (2005) superficial, short, popular biography
  • Howe, Daniel Walker. What Hath God Wrought: The Transformation of America, 1815-1848 (2007), Pulitzer Prize; a sweeping interpretation of the entire era
  • Holmes, David L. The Faiths of the Founding Fathers, May 2006, online version
  • May, Ernest R. The Making of the Monroe Doctrine (1975), argues it was issued to influence the outcome of the presidential election of 1824.
  • Morgan, George. The Life of James Monroe (1921) 484 pages; old and barely adequate biography. online edition
  • Perkins, Bradford. Castlereagh and Adams: England and the United States, 1812-1823 (1964)
  • Perkins, Dexter. The Monroe Doctrine, 1823-1826 (1927), the standard monograph about the origins of the doctrine.
  • Renehan Edward J., Jr. The Monroe Doctrine: The Cornerstone of American Foreign Policy (2007)
  • Scherr, Arthur. "James Monroe and John Adams: An Unlikely 'Friendship'". The Historian 67#3 (2005) pp 405+. online edition
  • Skeen, Carl Edward. 1816: America Rising (1993) popular history
  • Scherr, Arthur. "James Monroe on the Presidency and 'Foreign Influence;: from the Virginia Ratifying Convention (1788) to Jefferson's Election (1801)." Mid-America 2002 84(1-3): 145–206. ISSN 0026-2927.
  • Scherr, Arthur. "Governor James Monroe and the Southampton Slave Resistance of 1799." Historian 1999 61(3): 557–578. ISSN 0018-2370 Fulltext online in SwetsWise and Ebsco.
  • White, Leonard D. The Jeffersonians: A Study in Administrative History, 1801-1829 (1951), explains the operation and organization of federal administration
  • Whitaker, Arthur P. The United States and the Independence of Latin America (1941)
  • Wilmerding, Jr., Lucius, James Monroe: Public Claimant (1960) A study regarding Monroe's attempts to get reimbursement for personal expenses and losses from his years in public service after his Presidency ended.
  • Wood, Gordon S. Empire of Liberty: A history of the Early Republic, 1789-1815 (2009)

Primary sources

  • Monroe, James. The Political Writings of James Monroe. ed. by James P. Lucier, (2002). 863 pp.
  • Writings of James Monroe, edited by Stanislaus Murray Hamilton, ed., 7 vols. (1898-1903) online edition at books.google.com


  1. ^ a b c d e Gale (Mar 2004), Encyclopedia of World Biography, http://go.galegroup.com.central.ezproxy.cuny.edu:2048/ps/start.do?p=GVRL&u=cuny_centraloff, retrieved 2010-03-03 
  2. ^ a b c "The Oxford Essential Dictionary of the U.S. Military", Oxford Reference Online: 2, March 2001, http://www.oxfordreference.com/views/ENTRY.html?subview=Main&entry=t63.e5245, retrieved 2010-03-03 
  3. ^ a b c John J. Patrick, Richard M. Pious; Oxford University Press, Donald A. Ritchie (March 2001), "The Oxford Guide to the United States Government", Oxford Reference Online: 2, http://www.oxfordreference.com/views/ENTRY.html?subview=Main&entry=t89.e575, retrieved 2010-03-03 
  4. ^ whitehouse.gov, http://www.whitehouse.gov/about/presidents/jamesmonroe, retrieved 2010-03-16 
  5. ^ a b c "Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia", Grolier Online. 2: 2, Mar 2010, http://gme.grolier.com/article?assetid=0197240-0, retrieved 2010-03-03 
  6. ^ "Presidential Elections: Popular and Electoral Votes."", Grolier Online. 3: 3, Mar 2010, http://gme.grolier.com/table?assetid=2940-b, retrieved 2010-03-03 
  7. ^ Horace Monroe, Canon of Southwark. "Foulis Castle and the Monroes of Lower Iveagh". Published London. 1929
  8. ^ Horace Monroe, Canon of Southwark. "Foulis Castle and the Monroes of Lower Iveagh". Published London. 1929
  9. ^ Scotland's Mark on America By George Fraser Black
  10. ^ Presidential Avenue: James Monroe
  11. ^ a b Holmes, David R. (2006). The faiths of the founding fathers. Oxford [Oxfordshire]: Oxford University Press. p. 104. ISBN 0-19-530092-0. 
  12. ^ http://www.umw.edu/jamesmonroemuseum/default.php
  13. ^ http://www.oldandsold.com/articles11/virginia-homes-13.shtml
  14. ^ Gerard W. Gawalt, "James Monroe, Presidential Planter," Virginia Magazine of History and Biography 1993 101(2): 251-272
  15. ^ Jon Kukla, "A Spectrum of Sentiments: Virginia's Federalists, Antifederalists, and 'Federalists Who Are for Amendments,' 1787-1788," Virginia Magazine of History and Biography 1988 96(3): 276-296.
  16. ^ Harry Ammon, James Monroe (1971) p. 89
  17. ^ "MONROE, James — Biographical Information". United States Congress. http://bioguide.congress.gov/scripts/biodisplay.pl?index=M000858. Retrieved 2009-07-24. 
  18. ^ Ammon, James Monroe pp 137-8
  19. ^ Herbert E. Klingelhofer, "George Washington Discharges Monroe for Incompetence," Manuscripts 1965 17(1): 26-34
  20. ^ Ammon, James Monroe pp 55-56
  21. ^ Ammon, James Monroe p. 151
  22. ^ Ammon, James Monroe p. 193
  23. ^ Arthur Scherr, "James Monroe on the Presidency and 'Foreign Influence;: from the Virginia Ratifying Convention (1788) to Jefferson's Election (1801)." Mid-America 2002 84(1-3): 145–206
  24. ^ David A. Carson, "Quiddism and the Reluctant Candidacy of James Monroe in the Election of 1808," Mid-America 1988 70(2): 79-89
  25. ^ William G. Morgan, "The Congressional Nominating Caucus of 1816: the Struggle Against the Virginia Dynasty," Virginia Magazine of History & Biography 1972 80(4): 461-475
  26. ^ a b c d e "America President: James Monroe: Campaigns and Elections". Miller Center of Public Affairs. http://millercenter.org/academic/americanpresident/monroe/essays/biography/3. Retrieved 2010-01-08. 
  27. ^ "The administration of James Monroe." Bancroft, Hubert H., ed. (1902). "The Great Republic by the Master Historians". http://www.publicbookshelf.com/public_html/The_Great_Republic_By_the_Master_Historians_Vol_III/jamesmonr_bd.html. 
  28. ^ "Cumberland Road". Cyclopædia of Political Science, Political Economy, and the Political History of the United States by the Best American and European Writers. 1899. http://www.econlib.org/library/YPDBooks/Lalor/llCy338.html. 
  29. ^ The main exceptions were the West Indies islands especially Cuba and Puerto Rico which remained with Spain until 1898.
  30. ^ Ammon, James Monroe, pp 476-92
  31. ^ Ammon, James Monroe, pp 476-92
  32. ^ Ammon, James Monroe, pp 409-48
  33. ^ David S. Heidler, "The Politics of National Aggression: Congress and the First Seminole War." Journal of the Early Republic 1993 13(4): 501–530.
  34. ^ Francis Paul Prucha, The great father: the United States government and the American Indians‎ (1986) p. 65
  35. ^ Ammon, James Monroe, pp 536-40
  36. ^ Ashlawn website
  37. ^ Auguste Levasseur. Alan R. Hoffman. ed. Lafayette in America. p. 549. 
  38. ^ Jon Meacham. American Lion. p. 181. 
  39. ^ Bassett, Charles Walker; Maisel, Louis Sandy; Forman, Ira N.; Altschiller, Donald (2001). Jews in American politics. Lanham, Md: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers. p. 30. ISBN 0-7425-0181-7. 
  40. ^ Richard H. Popkin, "Thomas Jefferson's Letter to Mordecai Noah," American Book Collector 1987 8(6): 9-11
  41. ^ Arthur Scherr, "Governor James Monroe and the Southampton Slave Resistance of 1799," Historian; 1999 61(3): 557-578 in EBSCO; Douglas R. Egerton, Gabriel's Rebellion: The Virginia Slave Conspiracies of 1800 and 1802 (1993).
  42. ^ http://www.digitalhistory.uh.edu/database/article_display.cfm?HHID=567
  43. ^ http://books.google.cz/books?id=p1unoHtahSsC&pg=PA37&lpg=PA37&dq=James+Monroe++in+wig&source=bl&ots=-z_X8rq_3b&sig=OR7Tzj7TWHiuZZ8KrR-E7t7H2Bk&hl=sk&ei=6-t2S5yVFNCK_AblyInbCg&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=10&ved=0CDAQ6AEwCTgK#v=onepage&q=James%20Monroe%20%20in%20wig&f=false
  44. ^ http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/j/james_monroe.html

External links

Political offices
Preceded by
James Madison
President of the United States
March 4, 1817 – March 4, 1825
Succeeded by
John Quincy Adams
Preceded by
United States Secretary of State
Served under: James Madison

February 28, 1815 – March 4, 1817
Preceded by
John Armstrong, Jr.
United States Secretary of War
Served under: James Madison

September 27, 1814 – March 2, 1815
Succeeded by
William H. Crawford
Preceded by
Robert Smith
United States Secretary of State
Served under: James Madison

April 2, 1811 – September 30, 1814
Succeeded by
Preceded by
John Tyler, Sr.
Governor of Virginia
January 16, 1811 – April 5, 1811
Succeeded by
George W. Smith
Preceded by
James Wood
Governor of Virginia
December 9, 1799 – December 1, 1802
Succeeded by
John Page
United States Senate
Preceded by
John Walker
United States Senator (Class 1) from Virginia
November 9, 1790 – March 29, 1794
Served alongside: Richard H. Lee, John Taylor
Succeeded by
Stevens T. Mason
Party political offices
Preceded by
James Madison
Democratic-Republican Party presidential candidate
1816, 1820
Succeeded by
John Quincy Adams
Henry Clay
William H. Crawford
Andrew Jackson¹
Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
Rufus King
Minister Plenipotentiary to Great Britain
Succeeded by
William Pinkney
Preceded by
Gouverneur Morris
Minister Plenipotentiary to France
Succeeded by
Charles C. Pinckney
Notes and references
1. The Democratic-Republican Party split in 1824, fielding four separate candidates.


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

The best form of government is that which is most likely to prevent the greatest sum of evil.

James Monroe (April 28, 1758July 4, 1831) was the fifth (1817–1825) President of the United States and the author of the Monroe Doctrine. He was the last President that was a Founding Father.



  • National honor is the national property of the highest value.
    • First Inaugural Address (March 4, 1817)
  • The mention of Greece fills the mind with the most exalted sentiments and arouses in our bosoms the best feelings of which our nature is capable.
    • Message to Congress (December 1822)

The Monroe Doctrine (December 2, 1823)

  • The American continents ... are henceforth not to be considered as subjects for future colonization by any European powers.
  • In the wars of the European powers in matters relating to themselves we have never taken any part, nor does it comport with our policy so to do.
  • We owe it, therefore, to candor and to the amicable relations existing between the United States and those powers to declare that we should consider any attempt on their part to extend their system to any portion of this hemisphere as dangerous to our peace and safety. With the existing colonies or dependencies of any European power we have not interfered and shall not interfere. But with the Governments who have declared their independence and maintain it, and whose independence we have, on great consideration and on just principles, acknowledged, we could not view any interposition for the purpose of oppressing them, or controlling in any other manner their destiny, by any European power in any other light than as the manifestation of an unfriendly disposition toward the United States.


  • A little flattery will support a man through great fatigue.
  • If America wants concessions, she must fight for them. We must purchase our power with our blood.
  • If we look to the history of other nations, ancient or modern, we find no example of a growth so rapid, so gigantic, of a people so prosperous and happy.
  • In this great nation there is but one order, that of the people, whose power, by a peculiarly happy improvement of the representative principle, is transferred from them, without impairing in the slightest degree their sovereignty, to bodies of their own creation, and to persons elected by themselves, in the full extent necessary for the purposes of free, enlightened, and efficient government.
  • It is only when the people become ignorant and corrupt, when they degenerate into a populace, that they are incapable of exercising their sovereignty. Usurpation is then an easy attainment, and an usurper soon found. The people themselves become the willing instruments of their own debasement and ruin.
  • Never did a government commence under auspices so favorable, nor ever was success so complete.
  • Our country may be likened to a new house. We lack many things, but we possess the most precious of all -- liberty!
  • Preparation for war is a constant stimulus to suspicion and ill will.
  • The best form of government is that which is most likely to prevent the greatest sum of evil.

External links

Wikipedia has an article about:

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

JAMES MONROE (1758-1831), fifth president of the United States, was born on Monroe's creek, a tributary of the Potomac river, in Westmoreland county, Virginia, on the 28th of April 175 8. His father, Spence Monroe, was of Scotch, and his mother, Elizabeth Jones, was of Welsh descent. At the age of sixteen he entered the College of William and Mary, Williamsburg, Virginia, but in 1776 he left college to take part in the War for Independence. He enlisted in the Third Virginia regiment, in which he became a lieutenant, and subsequently took part in the battles of Harlem Heights, White Plains, Trenton (where he was wounded), Brandywine, Germantown, and Monmouth. In November 1777 he was appointed volunteer aide-de-camp to William Alexander (" Lord Stirling "), with the rank of major, and thereby lost his rank in the Continental line; but in the following year, at Washington's solicitation, he received a commission as lieutenant-colonel in a new regiment to be raised in Virginia. In 1780 he began the study of law under Thomas Jefferson, then governor of Virginia, and between the two there developed an intimacy and a sympathy that had a powerful influence upon Monroe's later career.

In 1782 he was elected to the Virginia House of Delegates, and though only twenty-four years of age he was chosen a member of the governor's council. He served in the Congress of the Confederation from 1783 to 1786 and was there conspicuous for his vigorous insistence upon the right of the United States to the navigation of the Mississippi River, and for his attempt, in 1785, to secure for the weak Congress the power to regulate commerce, in order to remove one of the great defects in the existing central government. On retiring from Congress he began the practice of law at Fredericksburg, Virginia, was chosen a member of the Virginia House of Delegates in 1787, and in 1788 was a member of the state convention which ratified for Virginia the Federal constitution. In 1790 he was elected to the United States senate to fill the vacancy caused by the death of William Grayson, and although in this body he vigorously opposed Washington's administration, Washington on the 27th of May 1 794 nominated him as minister to France. It was the hope of the administration that Monroe's well-known French sympathies would secure for him a favourable reception, and that his appointment would also conciliate the friends of France in the United States. His warm reception in France and his enthusiastic Republicanism, however, displeased the Federalists at home; he did nothing, moreover, to reconcile the French to the Jay treaty (see JAY, John), which they regarded as a violation of the French treaty of alliance of 1778 and as a possible casus belli. The administration therefore decided that ho was unable to represent his government properly and late in 1796 recalled him.

Monroe returned to America in the spring of 1797, and in the following December published a defence of his course in a pamphlet of 500 pages entitled A View of the Conduct of the Executive in the Foreign Affairs of the United States, and printed in Philadelphia by Benjamin Franklin Bache (1769-1798). Washington seems never to have forgiven Monroe for this, though Monroe's opinion of Washington and Jay underwent a change in his later years. In 1799 Monroe was chosen governor of Virginia and was twice re-elected, serving until 1802. At this time there was much uneasiness in the United States as a result of Spain's restoration of Louisiana to France by the secret treaty of San Ildefonso, in October 1800; and the subsequent withdrawal of the " right of deposit " at New Orleans by the Spanish intendant greatly increased this feeling and led to much talk of war. Resolved upon peaceful measures, President Jefferson in January 1803 appointed Monroe envoy extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary to France to aid Robert R. Livingston, the resident minister, in obtaining by purchase the territory at the mouth of the Mississippi, including the island of New Orleans, and at the same time authorized him to co-operate with Charles Pinckney, the minister at Madrid, in securing from Spain the cession of East and West Florida. On the 1.8th of April Monroe was further commissioned as the regular minister to Greaf Britain. He joined Livingston in Paris on the 12th of April, after the negotiations were well under way; and the two ministers, on finding Napoleon willing to dispose of the entire province of Louisiana, decided to exceed their instructions and effect its purchase. Accordingly, on the 30th of April, they signed a treaty and two conventions, whereby France sold Louisiana to the United States (see Louisiana Purchase). In July 1803 Monroe left Paris and entered upon his duties in London; and in the autumn of 1804 he proceeded to Madrid to assist Pinckney in his efforts to secure the definition of the Louisiana boundaries and the acquisition of the Floridas. After negotiating with Don Pedro de Cevallos, the Spanish minister of foreign affairs, from January to May 1805, without success, Monroe returned to London and resumed his negotiations, which had been interrupted by his journey to Spain, concerning the impressment of American seamen and the seizure of American vessels. As the British ministry was reluctant to discuss these vexed questions, little progress was made, and in May 1806 Jefferson ordered William Pinkney of Maryland to assist Monroe. The British government appointed Lords Auckland and Holland as negotiators, and the result of the deliberations was the treaty of the 31st of December 1806, which contained no provision against impressments and provided no indemnity for the seizure of goods and vessels. In passing over these matters Monroe and Pinkney had disregarded their instructions, and Jefferson was so displeased with the treaty that he refused to present it to the senate for ratification, and returned it to England for revision. Just as the negotiations were re-opened, however, the questions were further complicated and their settlement delayed by the attack of the British ship " Leopard upon the American frigate " Chesapeake." Monroe returned to the United States in December 1807, and was elected to the Virginia House of Delegates in the spring of 1810. In the following winter he was again chosen governor, serving from January to November 1811, and resigning to become secretary of state under Madison, a position which he held until the 3rd of March 1817. The direction of foreign affairs in the troubled period immediately preceding and during the second war with Great Britain thus devolved upon him. On the 27th of September 1814, after the disaster of Bladensburg and the capture of Washington by the British, he was appointed secretary of war to succeed General John Armstrong, and discharged the duties of this office, in addition to those of the state department, until March 1815.

In 1816 Monroe was chosen president of the United States; he received 183 electoral votes, and Rufus King, his Federalist opponent, 34. In 1820 he was re-elected, receiving all the electoral votes but one, which William Plumer (1759-1850) of New Hampshire cast for John Quincy Adams, in order, it is said, that no one might share with Washington the honour of a unanimous election. The chief events of his administration, which has been called the " era of good feeling," were the Seminole War (1817-18); the acquisition of the Floridas from Spain (1819-21); the "Missouri Compromise " (1820), by which the first conflict over slavery under the constitution was peacefully adjusted; the veto of the Cumberland Road Bill (1822) 1 on constitutional grounds; and - most 1 The Cumberland (or National) Road from Cumberland, Maryland, to Wheeling, West Virginia, was projected in 1806, by an appropriation of 1819 was extended to the Ohio River, by an act of 1825 (signed by Monroe on the last day of his term of office) was continued to Zanesville, and by an act of 1829 was extended westward from Zanesville. The appropriation of 1806 for the construction of the road had brought into national politics the question of the authority of the Federal government to make " internal improvements." The bill vetoed by Monroe would in effect have given to the Federal government jurisdiction over the road; and in his elaborate memorandum (May 4, 1822) accompanying his veto message, Monroe discussed at length the constitutional questions involved, argued that the Federal government was empowered by the Constitution to appropriate money for " internal improvements," and in concert with the states through which a road was to pass might supervise the construction of such a road, but might not exercise jurisdiction over it, and advocated the adoption of an amendment to the constitution giving larger power to the Federal government " confined to great national works only, since, if it were unlimited it would be liable to abuse, and might be productive of evil." For the history of the Cumberland Road, see Archer B. Hulbert, The Cumberland Road (Cleveland, Ohio, 1904). hehe haha

XVIII. 24 intimately connected with Monroe's name - the enunciation in the presidential message of the 2nd of December 1823 of what has since been known as the Monroe Doctrine, which has profoundly influenced the foreign policy of the United States. On the expiration of his second term he retired to his home at Oak Hill, Loudoun county, Virginia. In 1826 he became a regent of the university of Virginia, and in 1829 was a member of the convention called to amend the state constitution. Having neglected his private affairs and incurred large expenditures during his missions to Europe, he experienced considerable pecuniary embarrassment in his later years, and was compelled to ask Congress to reimburse him for his expenses in the public service. Congress finally (in 1826) authorized the payment of $30,000 to him, and after his death appropriated a small amount for the purchase of his papers from his heirs. He died in New York City on the 4th of July 1831, while visiting his daughter, Mrs Samuel L. Gouverneur. In 1858, the centennial year of his birth, his remains were reinterred with impressive ceremonies at Richmond, Virginia. Jefferson, Madison, John Quincy Adams, Calhoun, and Benton all speak loudly in Monroe's praise; but he suffers by comparison with the greater statesmen of his time. Possessing none of their brilliance, he had, nevertheless, to use the words of John Quincy Adams, " a mind. .. sound in its ultimate judgments, and firm in its final conclusions." Schouler points out that like Washington and Lincoln he was " conspicuous. .. for patient considerateness to all sides." Monroe was about six feet tall, but, being stoop-shouldered and rather ungainly seemed less; his eyes, a greyish blue, were deep-set and kindly; his face was delicate, naturally refined, and prematurely lined. The best-known portrait, that by Vanderlyn, is in the New York City Hall. Monroe was married in 1786 to Elizabeth Kortwright (1768-1830) of New York, and at his death was survived by two daughters.

See The Writings of James Monroe (7 vols., New York, 1898-1903), edited by S. M. Hamilton; Daniel C. Gilman, James Monroe (Boston, 1883), in the " American Statesman Series "; J. R. Irelan, History of the Life, Administration and Times of James Monroe, being vol. v. of his Republic (Chicago, 1887); John Quincy Adams, The Lives of James Madison and James Monroe (Buffalo, 1850); B. W. Bond, jun., Monroe's Mission to France, 1794-1796 (Baltimore, 1907); Henry Adams, History of the United States (9 vols., New York, 1889-1891), containing a full but unsympathetic account of Monroe's career as a diplomatist; and James Schouler, History of the United States, vols. ii. and iii. (New York, 1894), which estimates his public services highly.

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