James Monroe:

He was the fifth President of the United States and served two consecutive terms from 1817-1825.

Nicknames: The Last Cocked Hat, Era-of-Good-Feeling President

Quote: “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.”

I read the book “James Monroe” by Gary Hart.

After finishing it, I now know the following about President Monroe:

  • was with General George Washington at Valley Forge
  • is in the painting “Washington Crossing the Delaware,”  he’s the guy holding the flag
  • nearly died from a gunshot wound at the Battle of Trenton
  • grew up with John Marshall – the first Chief Justice
  • was close friends with Washington, Jefferson, and Madison
  • was a governmental aide to Thomas Jefferson while Jefferson was Governor of Virginia
  • he married a New York socialite named Elizabeth Kortright in 1786, she was known for her beauty
  • served as a Senator
  • he hated Alexander Hamilton (who doesn’t at this point) so much, they nearly dueled on many occasions
  • his political pen name was “Aratus”
  • he proposed the Northwest Ordinance – the first organizing of a territory by the US
  • went to France to serve as minister in 1794
  • he did not take criticism well
  • had a house built on land adjacent to Monticello and named it Highlands
  • served as governor of Virginia
  • met and spent time with Napoleon, and Napoleon predicted the War of 1812 to Monroe
  • was chief negotiator for the Louisiana Purchase
  • worked as minister to Great Britain to stop impressment of American sailors
  • served as Madison’s Secretary of State and Secretary of War at the same time
  • was the first politician to suggest a network of spies be set up in Britain
  • was the first and only Secretary of State to engage in active military service (out in the battle) while still in office
  • was a key figure in saving many of the people when Britain burned the Capitol, slowing the opposing forces down long enough for Dolley Madison to save national treasures from the White House and flee
  • he organized the defeat of the Redcoats at Baltimore
  • was a leader in pushing for Westward expansion and protecting Native American’s rights
  • he wanted to set aside the entire west coast of the continent as land for the Indians
  • had John Calhoun serve as his Secretary of War
  • was plagued by the unsanctioned attacks against Spanish Florida by the out-of-control Andrew Jackson
  • defined “new republican” (wanting a standing army, recognizing a republican federation)
  • was the first President to tour the nation since President Washington
  • ran unopposed for election and for reelection
  • when the country went into a significant recession, he drastically cut the War Department’s budget
  • requested a military post at the mouth of the Columbia River for protection
  • signed the Missouri Compromise
  • forced the Russians out of the Oregon territories
  • set forth the first national statement on foreign relations – the Monroe Doctrine  (it’s not what you think it is)   It stated 1.  No more land in North or South America can be colonized by European powers.  2.  Any effort on the part of a Euro-power to colonize will be considered a hostile act by the U.S.  3.  The U.S. won’t interfere in existing colonies, but any former colonies which are now declared independent and are being harassed by Euro-powers for control will be seen as a reason for the U.S. to get upset.  4.  The U.S. will remain neutral in any ongoing wars between South American colonies and Euro-powers unless they feel their security is threatened.  5. The U.S. won’t interfere with Euro-power business if they don’t interfere with ours. 6.  The Western Hemisphere is off limits to any monarchical powers in Europe.
  • he refused to name a favorite to succeed his position as President
  • five states were born during his Presidency: Mississippi, Illinois, Alabama, Maine, and Missouri
  • favorite foods (via The Awl) Fried chicken with rice, biscuits, tomatoes and eggs, spoon bread, chess cakes, sponge cakes, and cream jumbles.
  • had to sue his own government in his later years to be reimbursed for his time spent as an ambassador to Europe
  • lived out his final years in New York, sick with tuberculosis and destitute
  • died on July 4th, 1831, the third President to die on the Fourth of July

<–James Madison *****  John Quincy Adams –>

Post title taken from Jonathan Coulton’s “The Presidents”