James Monroe, 5th President of the United States

James Monroe was born April 28, 1758 in his family home in Westmoreland County, Virginia near what is now the unincorporated community of Monroe Hall, Virginia. His parents were Spence and Elizabeth (Jones) Monroe. The young Monroe was first educated by Elizabeth, and then from age 11 to age 16 he attended a school run by the Reverend Archibald Campbell. He excelled at mathematics and Latin while at the school, unlike most boys of his age. Monroe’s Father passed away in 1774 leaving his small plantation and slaves to his son.

At age 16 James began forming a very close relationship with Judge Joseph Jones, the executor of his Father’s estate. That year he also enrolled at the College of William and Mary, and at that time most students were enthralled with the idea of a rebellion against King George III. In 1776, roughly a 18 months after enrolling in the College of William and Mary, Monroe dropped out and joined the 3rd VirginiaRegiment (est. December 28, 1775). His background as a college student and as the owner of slaves and a plantation enabled Monroe to obtain an officer’s commission.

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Monroe left the military in 1780. Shortly after leaving the military James’ political career was born. From November 3, 1783 until November 3, 1786 he served as a delegate to the Constitution of the Confederation from Virginia. From November 9, 1790 until March 29, 1794 Monroe served as a US Senator from Virginia. After serving as senator, Monroe was the US Minister to France from May 28, 1794 until September 9, 1796.

Then on April 18, 1803 he became the US Minister to the United Kingdom, a position held until February 26, 1808. From December 28, 1799 to December 1, 1802 & January 16, 1811 to April 2, 1811 he served as the 12th and 16th Governor of Virginia. During the Madison Administration he held two prominent cabinet positions; 7th US Secretary of State from April 2, 1811 to March 4, 1817 and 8th US Secretary of War from September 27, 1814 to March 2, 1815. And then on March 4, 1817 he became the 5th President of the United States. He held this position until his retirement on March 4, 1825. On February 16, 1786 President Monroe married Elizabeth Kortright in New York City.

The couple had 3 children: Eliza Kortright Monroe Hay (December 1786 – January 27, 1840); married George Hay James Spence Monroe (1799-1801) The only son of James & Elizabeth; His name is mere speculation because his gravestone reads only J.S. Monroe Maria Hester Monroe Gouverneur (1802-June 20, 1850); married Samuel L. Gouverneur On July 4, 1831 President James Monroe became the 3rd US President to die on Independence Day. Monroe passed away from heart failure and tuberculosis. His death came 55 years after the signing of the Declaration of Independence and 5 years after the deaths of 2 other Founding Fathers who also were Presidents, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson.