Fifth in the line of American Presidents, James Monroe took to office on 4th March 1817. It was during the early years of his Presidency, that the 'Era of Good Will' was ushered in American politics.
James Monroe was born in Westmoreland County of Virginia in the year 1758. He studied in the William and Mary College and practiced law at Fredericksburg in Virginia. He joined the Continental Army where he fought with recognition. Monroe joined politics in his youth. When the Virginia Convention formally approved the Constitution, James Monroe joined the anti-Federalists. In 1790, he supported the Jeffersonian policies. This ultimately went long way in earning him the post of the United States Senator. During Jefferson's Presidency, he was posted as the Minister to France where he worked from 1794 to 1796.
He also played a major role in negotiating the Louisiana Purchase in association with Robert R. Livingston in the times of James Madison. It was largely due to his presence of mind that the Louisiana Purchase was perpetuated.
The Louisiana Purchase catapulted James Monroe to public fame overnight. James Monroe was appreciated by the senior politicians for his ambitious outlook and energy. He was backed by the then President James Madison to contest the Presidential Election in favor of the Republicans in the US Elections of 1816. With popularity behind him, his win was all but a matter of time.
The early years of James Monroe Presidency was marked by goodwill. He refashioned his cabinet by attempting to rope in a representative from every geographical corner of America. He traveled extensively to spread the message of non-sectarian goodwill, ushering in an era popularly dubbed as the 'Era of Good Feelings'. Although his steps met with some kind of an initial success, the economic down-slide of 1819 (popularly called the 'Panic of 1819') brought into fore the cracks that already appeared within the folds of the Party. The situation was worsened by the controversial Missouri Compromise.
Slavery was prohibited in the entire region of the erstwhile territory of Louisiana except in the Missouri region. The Congress, on the other hand, took steps to gradually free Missouri from slavery. Heated discussions followed the step and the problem was finally resolved by the Missouri Compromise of 1820, attaching the proposed state of Missouri with the newly formed state of Maine, and eliminating slavery from its northern and western regions forever.
Other remarkable features that marked the Presidential rule of James Monroe included the acquisition of Florida in 1818 and the implementation of the Monroe Doctrine in 1823. Although Monroe's success in dealing with domestic issues stands on dubious grounds, yet his fame as a superb diplomat and a master of foreign affairs remains unquestioned. In 1818, Monroe successfully acquired Florida from Spain. It remains to be one of his greatest political successes. The other highlight of his Presidential period was the declaration that later came to be known as the Monroe doctrine. In this declaration James Monroe stated very clearly that Latin America should be left alone by Europe. He even proclaimed that Russia should not move forward to infringe upon the Pacific coast.
James Monroe spent his post-Presidential days in the premises of the University of Virginia close to his home. However, after the death of his wife, Elizabeth Monroe, he moved to New York to stay with his daughter. He breathed his last on 4th July in 1831.
Some of the famous quotations by James Monroe include:
- "A little flattery will support a man through great fatigue."
- "Preparation for war is a constant stimulus to suspicion and ill will."
For more information on US Presidents, click on the following images: