In this week’s history essay I will be writing about the fifth President of the United States, James Monroe. What I will be getting into exactly is: Monroe’s early life and his experience in the American Revolution, his start in a political career, his presidency, and his later life and death.
Early Life and Experience in the American Revolution
James Monroe was born on April 28th, 1758, to Spence and Elizabeth Jones Monroe, in Westmoreland County, Virginia(James was the last President of the”Virginia Dynasty,” this was because four of of the first five US Presidents were from the State). His father was a relatively successful planter and carpenter. His father’s family immigrated to the colonies in the mid 1600s, from Scotland.
His education began when his mother began tutoring him at the age of ten. Then from age eleven to sixteen he attended Campbell town Academy, and was a great student. In 1774, Monroe’s father passed away, because he was the eldest of his six siblings, he inherited the family plantation and became the man of the house. Around this time he enrolled himself into the College of William and Mary, but he dropped out a year later to join Continental Army, in 1775; he never returned back to school to finish his education.
In the army he was given an officer’s commission, because of his status and education. During the battle of Trenton, he was seriously wounded in his shoulder thanks to a bullet which had severed an artery. But he recovered from his injury, and gained the rank of lieutenant colonel. He served in the army till the end of the American Revolution in 1783.
His Political Beginnings and Career
After the American Revolution, Monroe studied law under the wing of Thomas Jefferson(he and Jefferson had a lifelong personal and professional friendship). His political career began officially in 1782 when he was elected to the Virginia House of Delegates. He began serving for the Continental Congress from 1783-1786(at the time the Continental Congress was meeting up in the city of New York).
His personal life changed around this time, when he got married to Elizabeth Kortright(she was the daughter of a successful merchant from New York), on February 16th, 1786. The newly married couple moved to Fredericksburg, Virginia.
In 1787 he served as an anti federalist delegate, after the Constitutional Convention. He opposed the ratification of the new constitution, because it lacked a bill of rights. He believed that a lack of a bill of rights would give the central government too much power.
In 1790 Monroe was elected to the Senate, and joined the Jeffersonian limited government camp. During Thomas Jefferson’s presidency, Monroe aided the negotiation on the Louisiana Purchase with France. Monroe served as Secretary of State and Secretary of War, during James Madison’s presidency during the War of 1812.
In 1816 Monroe was elected as the fifth President of the United States(Madison had decided not to run for a third term, so that paved the way for Monroe), he had won eighty percent of the electoral votes, this left him far ahead of the other canadients.
After his election Monroe became a very popular President for these reasons:
1: He bought Florida from Spain.
2: The Treaty of 1819 gave the United States land in the Pacific Northwest.
3: And finally “The Era of Good Feelings,” that lasted until mid 1819.
But in 1819 Monroe’s aspect of his Presidency changed(before this it had been a good time economically), when an economic downfall struck, this downfall lasted until 1821. This downfall was caused because of bad inflation policies. Monroe also had to deal with the issues involved in admitting the now US State of Missouri, into the Union.
After the end of his first term in 1821, he ran again for President, even with all the struggles which I noted above, he was re-elected quite quickly. During his second Presidential term, he created the famous Monroe Doctrine(a new doctrine on foreign policy), in 1823.
The Monroe Doctrine stated that European nations were no longer allowed to interfere with the independent nations in the Americas. Also America was not allowed to interfere with the European nations and their colonies.
Later Life and Death
On July 4th, 1831, Monroe passed away, from tuberculosis and heart failure(he was the third US president who died on Independence day, or 4th of July). Before his death he supported the development of a colony in Africa, for freed African Americans. The today country of Liberia’s capital city, Monrovia, is named after Monroe.
Monroe accomplished quite a bit throughout his presidency, with the “Era of Good Feelings,” and the Monroe Doctrine. But he is also remembered for the fact that his Presidency marked the end of the First Party System in America and the end of the Founding Fathers.
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