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John Marshall and he were schoolmates, and their close friendship endured until the political rivalries of the s placed them in opposite camps. Monroe must have been a good student, for his proficiency in Latin and mathematics enabled him to begin in the upper division when he entered the College of William and Mary in Once in Williamsburg , Monroe was distracted from his studies by political turmoil.


He bought a musket and drilled with the college militia, and in June of , he was the youngest member of a small band of patriots that successfully seized the arsenal of the Governor's Palace. The following spring, Monroe joined an infantry regiment. In September , his regiment fought with distinction in the unsuccessful defense of Manhattan Island.

Monroe was later seriously wounded at the battle of Trenton, and he received a promotion to captain for his gallantry under fire. After recovering from his wound, he returned to the army in and served with Alexander Hamilton as an aide-de-camp for Lord Stirling.

Monroe once again saw combat at the battle of Monmouth in , but the surplus of qualified officers in the army prevented him from securing a field command of his own. His attempts to raise a volunteer unit met with no success, and he contemplated withdrawing from public life to pursue his secondary interest in farming. At this point, Monroe unburdened himself to Thomas Jefferson, his new acquaintance and the governor of Virginia.

Jefferson advised Monroe to prepare for a career in public service by studying the law. To that end, Monroe returned to William and Mary in and joined William Short in studying law under Jefferson's tutelage. In gratitude, Monroe wrote his mentor, "I feel that whatever I am at present in the opinion of others or whatever I may be in future has greatly arose from your friendship. Monroe supplied information on troop dispositions and established a military postal service for sending rapid news of enemy actions. With the end of the war, he moved from Williamsburg to his farm in King George County intending to complete his study of the law.

Shortly afterwards, in the spring of , he was elected as a member of the Virginia House of Delegates. Through and , Monroe was active in state political affairs, particularly in the management of the western lands his military service had earned him over 5, acres of bounty land in Kentucky. He was chosen in June , along with Jefferson and three others, to represent Virginia in the Confederation Congress.

The first year, in Annapolis, Jefferson and Monroe shared lodgings. The younger man availed himself of Jefferson's library and practiced his French on Jefferson's hired chef. It was during this time that Jefferson urged Monroe and James Madison to establish a closer relationship. Jefferson recommended Monroe to Madison, writing, "The scrupulousness of his honor will make you safe in the most confidential communication. A better man cannot be.


Jefferson was particularly warm in his congratulations. His marriage, however, made Monroe's chronic shortness of money a more pressing concern, and from until he divided his attention between public service and his law practice. He was again elected to the House of Delegates in , but was left off the Virginia delegation to the Constitutional Convention. After seeing the document that emerged from Philadelphia , Monroe found that he "had some strong objections to it. Madison, his unlikely opponent, also advocated amendment and handily won the election. The former adversaries immediately resumed their friendly correspondence.

In February , Monroe shared some good news with Jefferson: "It has always been my wish to acquire property near Monticello. I have lately accomplish'd it by the purchase of Colo. Nicholas improvments in Charlotteville Jefferson had been urging Madison and Monroe to settle near him in Albemarle County since the summer of He declined requests from his Albemarle neighbors to run for public office, devoting himself instead to his law practice and new farms. The latter disappointed him. His efforts, he concluded later, should have been applied "to a more grateful soil.

Most aristocratic Virginians in this period owed their financial well-being to large scale agriculture, and James Monroe was no exception. His father's death in had left him in possession of slaves. Though opposed to the institution itself, Monroe, like Jefferson, feared the outbreak of violence that could result from immediate abolition. He therefore supported gradual solutions to this societal dilemma. This paternalistic philosophy resulted in his protection of family units, a minor amount of self-determination in work assignments, and the provision of medical care.

It did not oblige him to free his slaves, an action he, like Jefferson, believed to be irresponsible. In , Monroe returned to public service as senator from Virginia and held that office until When he first arrived in Philadelphia, Madison and Jefferson invited their friend and his wife to share lodgings at their boarding house.

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Throughout this period, Monroe worked closely with Madison a member of the House of Representatives and Jefferson secretary of state in organizing an opposition political party and in achieving their republican goals. During recesses, these three men visited each other's estates: Madison at Montpelier , Jefferson at Monticello, and Monroe at his residence in Charlottesville.

They enjoyed one another's society, but also spent time preparing legislative goals and deciding on strategies to counter the efforts of Hamilton's Federalists. In , Monroe acquired 3, acres adjacent to Monticello. Monroe's appointment in as minister to France by Washington's Federalist administration was somewhat unexpected, especially considering Monroe's prominence in the opposition party.

His wide legislative experience and republican principles, however, made him the perfect agent for resolving tensions in American-French relations. By Washington's administration no longer felt comfortable with a Republican holding such an important post. Monroe bitterly resented what he perceived to be an unjustified recall; his resentment was somewhat soothed by the warm reception afforded him by his fellow Republicans when he returned to America in June of From to , Madison and Monroe were frequently at Monticello to confer with Jefferson on party matters.

Monroe's friends were anxious to put his talents to work in some high governmental post, and in , Monroe won the governorship of Virginia. Vague reports circulated during the summer of of an impending slave revolt. He was elected the fifth president of the United States in He is remembered for the Monroe Doctrine, as well as for expanding U.

S territory via the acquisition of Florida from Spain. Monroe, who died in , was the last of the Founding Fathers. James Monroe was the last American president of the "Virginia Dynasty," so named because four of the first five presidents were from Virginia.

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Spence was a moderately prosperous planter and carpenter whose family emigrated from Scotland in the mids. First tutored by his mother at home, James attended Campbelltown Academy between and , and was an excellent student. As the eldest of several children, James was expected to inherit his father's estate, but the events of turned his life in new directions. His first act of rebellion was to join several classmates and raid the arsenal of the British royal governor, escaping with weapons and supplies that they turned over to the Virginia militia.

Biography of James Monroe

He soon joined the Continental Army, becoming an officer in , and was part of General George Washington's army at the Battle of Trenton, where he was severely wounded. After the war, James Monroe studied law under the tutorage of Thomas Jefferson, beginning a life-long personal and professional relationship. In , he was elected to the Virginia House of Delegates, and from to , he served in the Continental Congress, then meeting in New York.

While there, he met and courted Elizabeth Kortright, the daughter of a prosperous New York merchant. The couple married on February 16, , and moved to Fredericksburg, Virginia. Monroe proved to not be as successful a farmer as his father and, in time, sold his property to practice law and enter politics. After the Federal Convention, Monroe initially joined the anti-Federalists in opposing ratification of the new constitution because it lacked a bill of rights. However, he and several key figures withheld their reservations and vowed to push for changes after the new government was established.

Virginia narrowly ratified the Constitution, paving the way for a new government. Within a year of his election, Monroe rose to become his party's leader in the Senate. Following the custom set by President Washington of only serving two terms, Madison decided not to run for a third term paving the way for James Monroe to be the Democratic-Republican candidate.

With little opposition from the now-fading Federalist Party, Monroe became the fifth president of the United States. He began his presidency with a tour of the northern states, during which time a Boston newspaper described Monroe's reception as an "Era of Good Feelings. The declaration was more than media hype.