*SLAMS TWO SHINY NICKELS DOWN* GIVE ME ALL YOU WANT TO TELL ABOUT MONROE PLS
FINALLY here are A FEW of my FAVORITE/MOST INTERESTING facts about my second favorite founding father!
James Monroe is the youngest founding father, born in 1758 in Virginia.
He had one sister and three brothers- one of whom (Spence) died when he was fifteen. Monroe was very close with his mother, who was also his teacher until he was eleven and at the age of sixteen his father died.
1774 was also the year he started College of William and Mary and was a devoted student. He started with intentions of studying law- but dropped out months later to enlist in the 3rd Virginia Regiment in 1775.
During the Revolutionary War, he served under General George Washington, and was an aide de comp for General Stirling.
In 1776, James Monroe was a hero at the Battle of Trenton. He was sent in an earlier boat across the Delaware River by General George Washington to scout. He nearly died at the battle, wounded at Trenton- he was shot in the left shoulder, he bled fast because the bullet severed an artery and he only survived because the volunteer medic stuck his finger in the bullet hole to stop the bleeding. He carried the shrapnel in his shoulder for the rest of his life.
In 1777, after the Battle of Brandywine, George Washington sent for French speaking James Monroe to stay with Lafayette (who had been shot at the battle) throughout the night. According to Lafayette, James Monroe spent the entire night talking about how much he loved Thomas Jefferson. (Giles)
Monroe also wintered at Valley Forge, eventually reaching the rank of Colonel in the Virginia service.
During the time that Monroe was stationed with Aaron Burr- Burr fell in love with Theodosia Prevost; and so did James Monroe. (Isenburg)
In 1780 the British invaded Richmond, and Governor Thomas Jefferson commissioned Monroe as a colonel to command the militia raised in response and act as liaison to the Continental Army in North Carolina.
Monroe did not return to William and Mary after the war, but finished his legal training with then Virginia Governor Thomas Jefferson who became one of his closest correspondents along with James Madison.
James Monroe and his wife, Elizabeth Monroe, had a particularly close relationship and married in 1786. Their warm family life is illustrated by his wife and two daughters, Eliza and Maria (they had a son but he died at sixteen months), who all accompanying Monroe on nearly all his official travel, including diplomatic assignments in France and Great Britain.
During their time in France, the James and Elizabeth attended Napoleon I’s Coronation in Notre Dame Cathedral. Elizabeth was very strong and instrumental in fighting for the Lafayette’s rights and land as well as making sure while Marquis de Lafayette was in prison, his wife–Adrienne de Lafayette–wasn’t guillotined and got her freedom.
The Monroes also provided support and shelter to the American citizen Thomas Paine in Paris, after he was arrested for his opposition to the execution of Louis XVI.
Monroe moved to Albemarle County, Virginia to be near his friend and mentor, Thomas Jefferson. His farm Highland actually shared a border with Jefferson’s Monticello. With the addition of their colleague James Madison—whose home in Orange County, Virginia was situated on their way to and from Washington. Three presidents of the United States were neighbors.
When Monroe was Governor of Virginia in 1800, hundreds of slaves from Virginia planned to kidnap him, take Richmond, and negotiate for their freedom. Due to a storm on August 30, they were unable to attack. Monroe influenced the Executive Council to pardon and sell some slaves instead of hanging them.
1803, Thomas Jefferson sent him to France to assist Robert Livingston with the negotiation of New Orleans. Finding Napoleon strapped for cash and willing to sell the entirety of the Louisiana Territory, Monroe took advantage of a deal that would double the size of the nation.
As Envoy to Spain, Monroe took a journey by mule from Paris to Madrid to negotiate with Spain for the Floridas.
During James Madison’s presidency, James Monroe held TWO cabinet positions at once–Secretary of War and Secretary of State. He was the only person in America’s history to of held TWO cabinet positions at the same time.
Monroe’s first presidential term was coined the Era of Good Feelings.
His inauguration was the first ever to of been done outside.
His daughter–Maria–was also the first to be married at the white house!
James Monroe was the first president to travel by steamboat. Towns across the country greeted him with parades, lavish dinners, and other grand events. The city of Charleston, South Carolina actually barbecued an ox in honor of his visit.
1820, Monroe saw no opposing candidates, and he was re-elected with all but one electoral votes. The one electoral vote against him was the result of a man who wanted George Washington to be the only president elected unanimously. This was the last time the United States saw a candidate run without serious opposition- Monroe was the only president besides Washington to do so.
James Monroe has a song about him written at the time of his presidential campaign called “Monroe is the man”.
One time, William Crawford (secretary of treasury) called on Monroe at the White House to suggest a list of appointments he wished the President to approve. However, Monroe objected to Crawford’s list and said that he intended to make his own. Crawford lost his cool and snapped at the President, “Well, if you will not appoint persons well-qualified for the places, tell me whom you will appoint that I may get rid of their opportunities!”. The President was not intimidated by Crawford, telling his Treasury Secretary, “Sir, that is none of your damn business.“ Crawford was not easily intimidated, either (he killed a man in a duel years earlier). Monroe’s remark led Crawford to charge at the 67 year old President with his cane, waving it at Monroe while calling him a “damned infernal old scoundrel.” Monroe was quick to grab two red hot tongs from a nearby fireplace for self-defense and threatened to personally throw Crawford out of the White House.
Monrovia, Liberia is the only foreign capital in the world named after a United States president.
Monroe was recognizably old-fashioned in choosing his attire. He was the last president to dress in the style of the Revolutionary War era (which was considered outdated) and was called nickname “The Last Cocked Hat.”
Because the white house burned down in the War of 1812 and the white house fund was broke- James Monroe had to dip into his own pocket to fix the white house and provide dinners for his guests. His wife Elizabeth chose all of the inside decor and furniture! By the time he finished his presidencies, he had lost his Virginia estate and was $75,000 in debt partly due to his wife’s poor health who likely had epilepsy and severe burns from when she collapsed near a fire.
Shortly before his death, James Madison and James Monroe (best friends and rivals) sent each other a heart felt letter. Monroe felt that he was fading and sent Madison a letter detailing how much he thought of him, and appreciated him, loved him through the years and how depressed he was that he would never see Madison ever again. Madison, getting emotional (who knew) sent him a letter back, scolding him that he shouldn’t be so negative because Monroe was going to get better and they were going to be able to hold one another again. Monroe never did get better.
Like John Adams and Thomas Jefferson before him, James Monroe died on July 4th on the 55th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence.
Washington Crossing the Delaware. Engraving by Paul Giradet after Emanuel Gottilieb Leutze, 1853, depicting George Washington leading the Continental Army across the Delaware River on December 25, 1776, for a surprise attack on the enemy troops at Trenton. From the Willard-Budd Collection at Mount Vernon.