James Monroe was the fifth president of the United States of America. He was a very intelligent man and was a good candidate to run the country. He was able to do many great things while he was the president. James Monroe was born on April 28, 1758, in Westmoreland, Virginia. Monroe was the son of Spence Monroe, who was a carpenter, and Elizabeth Jones Monroe. Monroe was one of five children. When Monroe was young he attended the school of Parson Campbell. To get to the school he had to walk several miles through the forest that his house was located near.
Monroe went to the college of William & Mary, while he was sixteen years old, in 1774. He found it hard to concentrate there because the American Colonies were inching nearer to starting a war with Great Britain (World Book Encyclopedia 734). In 1775 Monroe left college to go to war. He became a lieutenant in the Third Virginia Regiment of the Continental Army. In a battle in 1776 his commanding officer was shot and killed and he was put in charge of the battle and received a minor injury from being shot in the chest.
Once he recovered he was named aide-de-camp to Major General Lord Sterling. He fought in the Battle of Brandywine and the Battle of Germantown before meeting General George Washington at Valley Forge. In 1779 Monroe, who was now a major, left the Northern Army and went back to Virginia with several letters of recommendation, including one from General George Washington. The Virginia Legislature made him a lieutenant colonel and commissioned him to lead a militia. The militia never got formed, and this was the end of Monroe’s military career (Fitz-Gerald 21-28).
Monroe’s first political job was being an aide to Thomas Jefferson, who was at the time the governor of Virginia. Jefferson made Monroe is apprentice in the study of law while he was his aide. When Monroe was twenty-four he moved to Prince Edward County, Virginia, and was immediately elected to the state legislature, in 1782. In 1783 Monroe was elected to the Congress of the Confederation, which was the governing body of the United States at the time. Monroe served in congress for three years and during this time he became very interested in American expansion.
In 1784, while congress was at recess, Monroe traveled west to visit the Western territories of the United States. During his visit he traveled up the Hudson River, visited the Great Lakes, and visited the British forts in the Northwest Territory, which were in violation of the Treaty of Paris. With the information he gathered, he helped form the territorial government embodied in the Northwest Ordinance, enacted by congress in 1787. While in congress Monroe met, Elizabeth Kortright, who he married, and had two daughters and one son with (Internet 1-2).
In October, 1786, Monroe resigned from congress and moved back to Virginia to practice law. He was soon back on the Virginia Legislature again, and his short break from politics was over. Monroe was chosen to be a delegate from Virginia at the Constitutional Convention in 1787. The Constitutional Convention drafted the Constitution of the United States, and Monroe was elected a delegate to ratify the Constitution (Internet 2). In 1789 Monroe moved to Albemarle County, Virginia, and in 1790 was elected to the United States Senate.
In 1794 Monroe resigned as a US Senator to become the diplomatic post of minister plenipotentiary to France. As minister to France Monroe was to help maintain friendly relationships with France, even though the United States was in peaceful terms with France’s enemy Great Britain. In 1796 Monroe was recalled as Minister to France, and he felt he was betrayed by the Federalists, back in the US (Internet 2). Monroe returned home in June of 1797, and retired from public office. After two years of retirement Monroe became Governor of Virginia, in 1799. He reigned as governor for four year until 1803.
In 1803 Monroe was named to the team that was to negotiate with France for the purchase of the Louisiana Purchase, which was the largest real-estate transaction in history. When Monroe got to France, US Diplomat, Robert R. Livingston, was in deep negotiations with Napolean I, the Emperor of France about buying New Orleans and West Florida. Napolean wanted to sell the entire Louisiana Territory, instead of just New Orleans and West Florida. After the negotiations for the Louisiana Purchase were complete, Monroe traveled to Great Britain to become the diplomatic minister plenipotentiary to Great Britain.
In 1807 Monroe left to go back to the United States, and got back into politics (Internet 3). In 1809 Monroe went back to Virginia and was for the third time part of the Virginia Legislature, and then later became Governor of Virginia for the second time. In 1811, James Madison offered Monroe the position of Secretary of State. When Monroe accepted the position, relations with Great Britain worsened and it looked like things were going to lead to war. Monroe did not want to go to war with Great Britain, but when the War of 1812 was declared he was in full support of Madison.
During the war Monroe served as Secretary of State and later simultaneously as Secretary of War during the latter part of the war. In 1814 Washington D. C. was invaded and burned by Great Britain and the Secretary of War was dismissed and this is when Monroe assumed the position of Secretary of War. In August 1814, a US peace commission, lead by John Quincy Adams, met with leaders from Great Britain, in Ghent, Belgium, to negotiate peace. On December 24, 1814, a peace treaty that was approved by both Monroe and Madison was signed in Ghent, Belgium (Internet 3-4).
In 1816 after James Madison served his two terms as President of the United States, Monroe was the obvious person to run for president on the Democratic-Republican side. Monroe ran against the Federalist candidate, Rufus King, who was from New York. Monroe received all the electoral votes except for three states; Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Delaware. James Monroe then became the President of the United States (Internet 4). James Monroe was inaugurated as the fifth President of the United States of America on, March 4, 1817, by Chief Justice John Marshall, who went to school with Monroe as a child in Virginia.
Monroe’s cabinet is considered by most to be the strongest cabinet in US history. His cabinet included; Daniel D. Tompkins of New York, as Vice President; John Quincy Adams, as Secretary of State; John C. Calhoun of South Carolina, as Secretary of War; William A. Crawford of Georgia, as Secretary of the Treasury; and William Wirt of Maryland, as Attorney General (Internet 4). Monroe’s first administration faced two crises, one domestic and one foreign. In 1817 members of the Seminole tribe in Florida were crossing the border into Georgia and raiding towns in protest of US troops looking for escaped slaves.
Monroe sent General Andrew Jackson to drive back the Seminoles into Florida. He did so and kept going and captured Pensacola and Saint Mark, and executed two British subjects for inciting the raids. After Jackson’s invasion Monroe ordered John Quincy Adams to work with Spain to negotiate the buying of Florida. In Adams’s negotiations he backed up Jackson’s invasion, and on February 22, 1819, the United States bought Florida in the Transcontinental Treaty for $5 million (Internet 5). Slavery was starting to become a national issue with some Northern states outlawing slavery.
When Monroe took office there was an even amount of slave states and free states, thirteen of each. In 1818 the territory of Missouri entered the union as a slave state, and the next year Maine joined the union as a free state (Internet 5). In the 1820 election Monroe ran virtually unopposed and easily won the right to his second term as President of the United States. Monroe’s second term was very uneventful except for one major accomplishment, which was the Monroe Doctrine. The doctrine was established because of threats of Russian encroachment on the Pacific Coast.
In 1921 Monroe agreed in a treaty for the United States not to start any settlements North of 54? 40’ North latitude and for Russia to not settle south of the line. In the Monroe Doctrine, Monroe stated that the United States would oppose any further colonization of European powers in the Western hemisphere (Internet 5-6). When the election of 1824 neared Monroe had no intentions of running for a third term and was going to follow the precedent set by George Washington of serving for two years and then retiring.
Monroe was sixty-seven years old at the end of his second term when he passed the presidency on to John Quincy Adams. Monroe retired to Oak Hill in Loudoun County, Virginia. Monroe’s retirement years were filled with financial worries. Monroe never recovered from his financial issues. After his wife died Monroe sold his estate in Oak Hill and moved to New York to live with his younger daughter. Monroe died on July 4, 1831. He was buried in New York, but in 1858 his body was moved to Richmond, Virginia and was buried in Hollywood Cemetery (Internet 6). Opinion
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