-James Monroe, is best remembered for the Monroe Doctrine, proclaimed in 1823. This historic policy warned European countries not to interfere with the independent nations of the Western Hemisphere.
-James Monroe was born in Westmoreland County, Virginia, on April 28, 1758.
-Monroe enlisted and age 18, and was commissioned a lieutenant. He soon saw action, fighting at Harlem Heights and White Plains in New York in the fall of 1776.
-Monroe began his public career in 1782, when he won a seat in the Virginia Assembly.
-In 1786, Monroe settled down to practice law in Fredericksburg, Virginia. But politics drew him like a magnet. He ran for the Virginia Assembly and won easily. He remained in the Assembly four years.
-Monroe's family. In 1786, Monroe married 17-year-old Elizabeth Kortright (June 30, 1768-Sept. 23, 1830), the daughter of a New York City merchant. The couple had two daughters, Eliza Kortright and Maria Hester, and a son (probably named James Spence), but the boy died as an infant.
-U.S. senator. Monroe ran against James Madison for the first United States House of Representatives but lost. In 1790, the Virginia legislature elected him to fill a vacancy in the U.S. Senate. As a senator, Monroe aligned himself with Madison and with Jefferson, then secretary of state, in vigorous opposition to the Federalist program of Alexander Hamilton.
-In 1794, President George Washington appointed Monroe minister to France. The president knew that Monroe opposed many administration policies, but he needed a diplomat who could improve relations with the French. He also knew that Monroe strongly admired France.
-In 1799, Monroe was elected governor of Virginia. In this post, he played an important part in preserving democratic processes during the tense years following passage of the Alien and Sedition Acts, which made it a crime to criticize the president or Congress falsely and maliciously.
-Secretary of state. Monroe resigned as governor after about three months to accept President Madison's appointment as secretary of state.
-In 1816, while still secretary of state, Monroe was elected president of the United States. He received 183 electoral votes to 34 for Senator Rufus King of New York, the Federalist candidate. Monroe's running mate was Governor Daniel D. Tompkins of New York.
-The years of Monroe's presidency are generally known as "the era of good feeling."
-"The American System" was the chief issue of Monroe's first term. House Speaker Henry Clay of Kentucky advanced this plan. The American System proposed to strengthen the nation in two ways: (1) construction of new roads and canals to open the West, and (2) enactment of a protective tariff to encourage Northern manufacturers and develop home markets.
-Life in the White House. The British had burned the White House during the War of 1812, and the mansion had not been rebuilt when Monroe took office. The new president maintained his residence on I Street, near 20th Street, for nine months. On New Year's Day, 1818, President and Mrs. Monroe held a public reception marking the reopening of the White House.
-Reelection. In the election of 1820, Monroe was unopposed. He received every vote cast in the Electoral College but one. William Plumer, an elector from New Hampshire, cast his vote for John Quincy Adams.
-The Monroe Doctrine. During the Napoleonic Wars, the Spaniards had become deeply involved in European affairs and took little interest in their American colonies. Most of the colonies took advantage of this situation and declared independence from Spain. The Latin-American revolutions aroused great sympathy in the United States. As early as 1817, Henry Clay had begun a campaign for recognition of these new countries. Over the period of time from 1822 to 1824, Monroe finally recognized their independence. In December 1823, the president proclaimed the historic Monroe Doctrine in a message to Congress. This doctrine has remained a basic American policy ever since.
-Later years. Monroe retired to Oak Hill, his estate near Leesburg, Virginia. He served for five years as a regent of the University of Virginia. In 1829, he became presiding officer of the Virginia Constitutional Convention. His wife died on Sept. 23, 1830, and was buried at Oak Hill. Long public service had left Monroe a poor man, and he was too old to resume his law practice. Late in 1830, his financial distress forced him to move to New York City to live with his daughter. Monroe died there on July 4, 1831. In 1858, his remains were moved to Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond, Virginia. His law office in Fredericksburg has been preserved as a memorial.
Hickey, Donald R."Monroe, James." World Book Advanced. World Book, 2013.
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