5th President (1817-1825)
Born: April 28, 1758
Died: July 4, 1831
Vice President: Daniel D. Tompkins
Political Party: Democratic-Republican
Next President: John Qunicy Adams
Previous President: James Madison
While not all of the American Founding Fathers made it to the White House to become president, James Monroe has
the distinction of being the last Founding Father to serve as commander in chief. James Monroe was born in Monroe
Hall, Virginia on April 28, 1758 to Spence and Elizabeth Jones Monroe. James Monroe has a place in American history
as one of the people that worked on such monumental things as the Constitution and the Louisiana Purchase. He was
also the first United States president to not have a college degree. Monroe started to get a degree at the College
of William and Mary but followed his rebellious leanings and dropped out of college to join the Continental Army
and fight in the American Revolution.
Despite his lack of a formal education, James Monroe set up a successful law practice after the Revolutionary
War ended. On February 16, 1786, James Monroe married Elizabeth Kortright and the couple had three children. The
two daughters, Eliza and Maria Hester, lived into adulthood and Maria Hester’s wedding was the first ever wedding
of a sitting president’s daughter held in the White House. A son that is suspected to be named James died when he
was only one year old. There is a grave marker for the child, but not formal first name is given. Historians imply
that the first male child would have been James Monroe Jr.
Monroe had always dreamed of being a land owner and having a successful plantation with a large number of
slaves. But while he was an intelligent man, his abilities did not include knowing how to run a successful
plantation. When he bought his plantation, he would work his slaves hard to try and make up for bad decisions that
Monroe was making in terms of business and farming moves. But Monroe insisted on the lavish lifestyle of a
plantation owner and often had to sell off pieces of his land to pay for his extravagant cover.
In 1794, Monroe was appointed to be the American ambassador to France. It started the process of negotiating the
Louisiana Purchase which brought Monroe into the public spotlight. On March 4, 1817, James Monroe assumed his role
as the fifth president of the United States. He served two terms and his financial indiscretions had left him
deeply in debt when he left the White House. He passed away on July 4, 1831.
Notable James Monroe Quotes
"It is only when the people become ignorant and corrupt, when they degenerate into a populace,
that they are incapable of exercising their sovereignty."
Interesting James Monroe Facts
In the election of 1820, Monroe received all but one vote from the electoral college.
His presidency was known as "The Era of Good Feelings".