Monroe and his Family

“He is tall and well formed. His dress plain and in the old style…. His manner was quiet and dignified. From the frank, honest expression of his eye … I think he well deserves the encomium passed upon him by the great Jefferson, who said, ‘Monroe was so honest that if you turned his soul inside out there would not be a spot on it.’ ” 1.

James Monroe was born April 28, 1768 in Westmoreland County, Virginia. As a boy he attended the Campbelltown Academy before attending the College of William and Mary. Post graduation, Monroe joined the Continental Army and fought in important battles such as Trenton, Monmouth, Brandywine, and Germantown. By the end of the war, he had earned the rank of major and returned to Virginia to be a colonel and proceed to study law.

In 1782, James Monroe was elected to the Virginia Assembly and then elected to the Continental Congress. It was while he was on duty for the Continental Congress in New York that he met his future wife Elizabeth Kortright. They were married a year after their first meeting on February 16, 1783. In 1794, James Monroe was sent to Paris on behalf of George Washington to act as Minister to France. [2] His time in France was not easy and was off balanced even more with the signing of the Jay Treaty. Relations with the French diminished and Monroe was brought back to the United States.

Upon returning from France, James Monroe practiced law. In 1799 he was elected governor of Virginia and under Thomas Jefferson was then sent to Europe to act as Minister to Britain. While in Britain, he dealt with British impressment upon American sailors. [3]

In 1808, James Monroe returned to the United States where he ran for President against James Madison. He lost the 1808 election, and eventually served as Secretary of State under James Madison. Monroe continued to be Secretary of State until the end of James Madison’s presidency, and that was when Monroe became President on March 4, 1817.

As president, James Monroe led the United States into an “Era of Good Feelings.” This era of minimal tension lasted until 1824 with the Monroe Transfer. An 1819 economic panic as well as the debates over the entry of Missouri into the United States caused problems and uneasiness. [4] While in office, James Monroe proposed the Monroe Doctrine which was declared in Congress in December 1923. The doctrine declared the ownership of the western hemisphere and that European states should not colonize or interfere with the Americas. It also proclaimed that the United States would remain neutral on diplomatic affairs.

His wife, Elizabeth, died in 1830 and so Monroe lived with his daughter Maria and her family in New York. James Monroe died on July 4, 1831.


1. “James Monroe,” The White House. [April 1, 2008]

2. Gerald , Baliles L. Baliles, “Family Life,” American President, An Online Reference Resource: James Monroe (1758-1831). Miller Center of Public Affairs: University of Virginia. [April 1, 2008].

3. “James Mornoe”, The White House [ April 1, 2008]

4. Ibid.


James Monroe.” The White House. [April 1, 2008]

Baliles, Gerald L. American President, An Online Reference Resource: James Monroe (1758-1831). Miller Center of Public Affairs: University of Virginia. [April 1, 2008]

American Presidents: Life Portraits – James Monroe. [April 1, 2008]