“National honor is the national property of the highest value.”
“Let us by wise and constitutional measures promote intelligence among the people as the best means of preserving our liberties.”
Fifth President of the United States, James Monroe was the last President who participated in the American Revolution. Like the previous Presidents, Monroe spent his entire adult life serving his country. When he was 18-years-old, Monroe dropped out of school and joined the Continental Army. He fought under George Washington’s command and was seriously injured during the Battle of Trenton. Monroe was a good friend to Thomas Jefferson, who once said, “Monroe was so honest that if you turned his soul inside out, there would not be a spot on it.”
- James Monroe was born April 28, 1758 in Westmoreland County, VA. His father was a successful planter. Both James’ parents died when he was a teenager.
- James Monroe attended the college of William and Mary. When he was 17, he raided a British armory (weapons storage) with several classmates. They took 200 muskets (guns) and 300 swords, which they gave to the Virginia militia.
- James Monroe married Elizabeth Kortright Monroe in 1786. He was 27; she was 17.
- James Monroe worked in Thomas Jefferson’s law office and later opened his own practice.
- Monroe served in the Virginia Assembly, the Continental Congress, and the U.S. Senate. He was also governor of Virginia. He served in foreign affair positions for George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison. He had years of political experience when he became president.
- Monroe served as president for two terms (8 years). During the early years of his presidency, Monroe went on a “Goodwill” tour, visiting many states. He also worked hard to establish positive relationships with other countries.
- During Monroe’s term, he added five new states to the country and bought Florida from Spain. He developed the Monroe Doctrine, which stated that the Americas could not be colonized by other countries.
- Monroe died on July 4 (just like Thomas Jefferson and John Adams), 1831.
Questions and Answers
Question: What was James Monroe’s family like?
Answer: The Monroes had two daughters and a son who died in infancy. Elizabeth was more reserved than many first ladies, probably partly because she had serious health problems (probably epilepsy). The Monroes had many friends in France and spoke French at home.
Visit the Miller Center to learn more about James Monroe.