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Monday, 20 June 2016

James Monroe


James Monroe was born on April 28, 1758, in his parents' house located in a wooded area of Westmoreland County, Virginia.

His father Spence Monroe (1727–1774) was a moderately prosperous planter who also practiced carpentry. His mother Elizabeth Jones (1730–1774) married Spence Monroe in 1752 and they had several children.

Between the ages of 11 and 16, James studied at Campbell town Academy, a school run by Reverend Archibald Campbell of Washington Parish. There he excelled as a pupil and progressed through Latin and mathematics faster than most boys his age.

Both his father and mother died when James was aged 16. Monroe inherited their small plantation and slaves, officially joining the ruling class of the planter elite in what had become the slave society of Virginia.

The earliest preserved portrait of James Monroe as Minister Plenipotentiary to France in 1794.


At age 18, Monroe joined the Continental Army where his background as a college student and the son of a well-known planter enabled him to obtain an officer's commission.

In June 1775, after the battles of Lexington and Concord, Lieutenant James Monroe took part in a raid of the arsenal at the Governor's Palace in Williamsburg. They used the loot of 200 muskets and 300 swords to arm the Williamsburg militia.

Monroe took part in the Boxing Day 1776 Battle of Trenton. He was carried from the field bleeding badly after being struck in the left shoulder by a musket ball, which severed an artery.

Battle of Trenton by Charles McBarron.

The Battle of Trenton would be Monroe's only battle as he would spend the next three months recuperating from his wound.

After the war Monroe studied law with Thomas Jefferson. After passing the bar, Monroe practiced law in Fredericksburg, Virginia.

Monroe sold his small inherited Virginia plantation in 1783 to enter politics and finance his law career. He was elected to Congress in November 1783


27-year-old James Monroe married 17-year-old Elizabeth Kortright (1768–1830) on February 16, 1786, at her father's home in New York City.

Monroe first came across Elizabeth while serving with the Continental Congress, which then met in New York . His cousin and fellow Congressman from Virginia, described Elizabeth and her sisters as having "made so brilliant and lovely an appearance" at a theater one evening, "as to depopulate all the other boxes of all the genteel male people therein."

Elizabeth Monroe

After a brief honeymoon on Long Island, New York, the Monroes returned to New York City to live with her father until Congress adjourned.


Monroe was elected to the United States Senate in 1790. He helped form the Democratic-Republican Party with Jefferson and James Madison.

Monroe was Governor of Virginia from 1799 – 1802 as a Democratic-Republican. He was re-elected Virginia's governor in 1811  but served only four months. In April 1811, President James Madison appointed Monroe as Secretary of State in hopes of shoring up the support of the more radical factions of the Democratic-Republicans.


Monroe was easily elected president in 1816, winning over 80 percent of the electoral vote. His first term was called the Era of Good Feelings because of the national unity that followed the end of the War of 1812.

By John Vanderlyn - 1816

Monroe ran unopposed for his re-election, something that has only happened one other time in U.S. history (George Washington).

Monroe created the Monroe Doctrine with his Secretary of State, John Quincy Adams, which was a policy that said that the United States did not want Europe to be involved in the Western Hemisphere anymore.

The Missouri Compromise was signed into law by President James Monroe in 1820. The compromise allowed Missouri to enter the Union as a slave state, but made the rest of the northern part of the Louisiana Purchase territory slavery-free.

James Monroe and his family were the first to occupy the reconstructed White House , moving there in December 1817. He had the south portico built in 1824.

On one occasion James Monroe disembarked from a riverboat in Georgetown, South Carolina and his welcoming party greeted him with a red carpet. This was one of the earliest reported instances of a ceremonial red carpet.

Liberia's capital Monrovia is named after James Monroe because of his support for its colonization.

Monroe was the last President of the United States to be a founding father of the United States

Monroe is regarded as the last U.S. President who was a Revolutionary War veteran, since he served as an officer of the Continental Army and took part in combat.

Due to his penchant for outdated Revolutionary War era dress, Monroe’s nickname was “The Last Cocked Hat.”


Monroe retired to Virginia where he was plagued by financial difficulties.

After his wife's death in 1830, Monroe moved to New York to live with his daughter Maria Hester Monroe Gouverneur, who had married Samuel L. Gouverneur. Monroe died there from heart failure and tuberculosis on July 4, 1831.

Monroe's grave at Hollywood Cemetery

July 4 is the only date on which three US presidents died: John Adams and Thomas Jefferson (both 1826) and James Monroe (1831).

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