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Biography

President James Monroe

Portrait of President James Monroe
James Monroe
by Samuel F. B. Morse
James Monroe was the 5th President of the United States.

Served as President: 1817-1825
Vice President: Daniel D. Tompkins
Party: Democratic-Republican
Age at inauguration: 58

Born: April 28th, 1758 in Westmoreland County, Virginia
Died: July 4, 1831 in New York, New York

Married: Elizabeth Kortright Monroe
Children: Eliza and Maria
Nickname: Era of Good Feelings President

Biography:

What is James Monroe most known for?

James Monroe is most famous for the Monroe Doctrine. This was a bold statement that told the European countries that the United States would not stand for further intervention or colonization in the Americas.

James Monroe
James Monroe by John Vanderlyn

Growing Up

James grew up in the Virginia colony at the time when tensions were mounting between the American colonies and their British rulers. His father was a farmer and a carpenter. When he was just sixteen years old his father died and James was expected to take over his father's estate and take care of his four younger brothers and sisters. Fortunately, James was a bright and capable young man.

James enrolled in the College of William and Mary, but his education was cut short when the Revolutionary War broke out. He joined the local Virginia Militia and then the Continental Army. Soon he held the rank of Major and fought under the command of George Washington. At the battle of Trenton he was shot in the shoulder, but recovered that winter at Valley Forge.

Before He Became President

Monroe left the army a dedicated war hero and decided to become a lawyer. He learned the law by working for Thomas Jefferson's law practice. He later went into politics where he was very successful. First he became a member of the Virginia legislature and then a delegate to the Continental Congress. After the United States was formed as a new country, he became a member of the US congress and then Governor of Virginia.

Monroe also gained experience by working for several presidents. He went to France for Thomas Jefferson to help with buying the Louisiana Purchase, which doubled the size of the United States. He also served as Secretary of State and Secretary of War for President James Madison.

James Monroe's Presidency

During Monroe's presidency five new states were admitted into the country. These included Mississippi, Illinois, Alabama, Maine, and Missouri. Monroe also further added to the expansion of the United States by buying the territory of Florida from Spain.

The Missouri Compromise

When Missouri was admitted to the United States there was a controversy over whether slavery would be allowed within the state. The southern states wanted slavery to be permitted in Missouri, while the northern states wanted it to be a free state. After much arguing they came up with a compromise called the Missouri Compromise. Missouri would be admitted as a slave state and Maine as a free state.

The Monroe Doctrine

In 1823, Monroe decided that the US would no longer allow European countries to colonize or conquer independent states in the Americas. This included South America as well, where many countries had just gained independence from Spain. He made a US policy that stated that if a European country were to attack or colonize any country in the Americas, the United States would consider it an act of war. This policy later became known as the Monroe Doctrine.

How did he die?

After his wife passed, Monroe moved in with his daughter's family in New York. He quickly fell ill and died on the 4th of July, exactly five years after Thomas Jefferson and John Adams died.
Black and White of James Monroe
James Monroe
by Gilbert Stuart


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