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James Monroe - 5th President: Leader of the Era of Good Feelings

Angela loves history and feels it is essential to our future to know the past—or else we're destined to repeat it.

James Monroe, Last Cocked Hat

James Monroe Biography

James Monroe was our fifth President and the last of the founding fathers. On April 28, 1758, he was born in Westmoreland County, Virginia, to his father, Spencer Monroe, and his mother, Elizabeth Jones Monroe.

Above all else, Monroe valued his family. On February 16, 1786, he married Elizabeth (Eliza) Kortright and had three children; Eliza Kortright, James Spence, and Maria Hester. He was very close to his children. His oldest child Eliza became the first bride to live in the White House. Monroe's wife became sick while he was in office; therefore, his daughter Eliza and her husband lived there right after they were married so that she could act as hostess.

After his presidency, his wife Elizabeth died, which caused him to move in with his youngest daughter Maria and her husband. Part of the strong bond he had with his daughters may have resulted from Monroe's belief that women and men should be equal in their education. They gave just as much attention to their girls as their son in educational matters.

James Monroe Picture

History of the Louisiana Purchase

He placed great value on education. At sixteen years old, he attended the college William and Mary and graduated in 1776, where he studied law. He did work as a lawyer but soon got into politics.

Monroe also fought in the American Revolutionary War, where a musket ball hit his left shoulder, injuring him. During this time, he caught the eyes of both George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson felt Monroe would be a real political leader and trained him further in law.

His first political position was as a senator, making him the first president to also be a senator. While in the Senate, he gained recognition when he played a crucial role in the Louisiana Purchase. The Louisiana Purchase doubled the size of the United States and would later break into 15 different states.

Jefferson and Washington were not the only former presidents to notice Monroe's promise. During the War of 1812, Madison asked Monroe to become both Secretary of State and Secretary of War. Madison's high respect for Monroe caused a smooth transition from Secretary of State to Madison's successor.

Pictures of James Monroe

President James Monroe nominated John Quincy Adams for president!

President James Monroe nominated John Quincy Adams for president!

The Era of Good Feelings!

Shortly after the victory in the War of 1812, James Monroe became President of the United States. Monroe served two terms, known as the "Era of Good Feelings." His term was labeled this for many reasons. First of all, everyone was elated at Monroe's success as Secretary of War during the War of 1812, which gave everyone confidence in his ability as President. Their confidence in him grew due to his very personable demeanor. Their respect only expanded when the economy boomed at the beginning of his term.

It was not all good feelings, though. In 1819, the US started a small depression. Unemployment rates increased, bankruptcies increased, and foreclosures increased. Many believed that this was just a result of starting a new government, and this was its natural course. Fortunately for Monroe, there was not much backlash towards him.

That same year, the Missouri Compromise, which stated that slavery was not allowed above the 36 degrees, 30-minute latitude, caused distress amongst the American people. It was enacted when Missouri joined the union as a slave state, disrupting the unity between the north and south.

Since Monroe did so much for our country, many often overlook even the Era of Good Feeling's worst moments. In 1819 towards the end of his first term, he agreed to purchase Florida from Spain, which, among other things, made him very popular. When Monroe ran for his second term, he received all but one electoral vote. The one he did not receive was because a New Hampshire delegate wanted George Washington to be the only one to win unanimously.

The most well-known change that President James Monroe did while in office was the Monroe Doctrine. John Quincy Adams, who would later become his successor, helped him write it. At the time, Adams served as his Secretary of State. Once they had completed the writing of the Monroe Doctrine, it stopped European intervention within the United States. Part of its intention was to buy Florida from Spain. When Adams became president, he was able to finish what Monroe stated, and Florida became officially part of the United States.

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Basic Facts

Question Answer


April 28, 1758 - Viriginia

President Number




Military Service

Continental Army (major) Virginia Militia (colonel)

Wars Served

American Revolutionary War • Battle of Trenton

Age at Beginning of Presidency

59 years old

Term of Office

March 4, 1817 - March 3, 1825

How Long President

8 years


Daniel D. Tompkins

Age and Year of Death

July 4, 1831 (aged 73)

Cause of Death

heart failure and tuberculosis

James Monroe's Presidency

Despite Monroe's great presidency, he was relieved to leave his Presidential duties behind him, which allowed him to focus on his family and spend more time on his farm. He also had a lot of financial issues and wanted to be able to pay off much of his debt. Unfortunately, he spent a life of high profile but low pay. He eventually was able to get paid for some of his services, which enabled him to pay off much of his debt, which allowed him to leave his children an inheritance after he died. Like two of his predecessors, he died on Independence Day in 1831 in New York City. He was buried at Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond, Virginia.

James Monroe left a legacy behind as one of the most qualified presidents to hold the position. He served in the Revolutionary War and served in the US Senate and the Continental Congress. He also served during a time when we became more independent, finally getting away from the European direction.

Fun Facts

  • One of three presidents to die on the Fourth of July. He died five years after his predecessors, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams.
  • The first president to have also been a senator.
  • When elected, he almost voted in unanimously for his second term. He won 231 to 1 in electoral votes. One delegate in New Hampshire wanted George Washington to be the only President ever to be voted in unanimously and was his only reason for voting against him.
  • During the Revolutionary War, he was shot in the arm. The bullet remained in his shoulder for his entire life.
  • Five states joined the United States while he was in office: Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Maine, and Missouri.

President James Monroe Biography Video


  • American Presidents | Series | (n.d.). Retrieved April 21, 2016, from
  • Miller Center of Public Affairs, University of Virginia. “James Monroe: Family Life.” Accessed April 21, 2016.­/president/biography/monroe-family-life.
  • Profiles of U.S. Presidents. (n.d.). Retrieved April 21, 2016, from
  • Sullivan, George. Mr. President: A Book of U.S. Presidents. New York: Scholastic, 2001. Print.
  • Summers, R. S. (n.d.). Presidents of the United States (POTUS). Retrieved April 21, 2016, from
  • What are some interesting facts about presidents and first ladies? (n.d.). Retrieved April 20, 2016, from

© 2012 Angela Michelle Schultz


Dennis AuBuchon from Ohio on September 06, 2013:

Great hub with excellent content. It is great to learn more about individuals who served as President along with some history not only of them but the country. I voted up, useful, awesome and interesting along with liking, pinning and tweeting.

Angela Michelle Schultz (author) from United States on March 20, 2012:

Thank you!

kmkellum on March 19, 2012:

Great hub! I'm very interested in U.S. Presidential history.

Angela Michelle Schultz (author) from United States on March 16, 2012:

I'm glad you enjoyed it! I am actually working on articles about all of the presidents. I have a list of them to the right of the articles. The ones in blue are the ones I have written them about.

John Sarkis from Winter Haven, FL on March 15, 2012:

This is a great hub - I love history and found this interesting and voted as such.

Florida is my favorite of all the USA States, so I'm glad about the Monroe doctrine...

Take care


Angela Michelle Schultz (author) from United States on March 13, 2012:

Your welcome. I am working on writing some for every president. Slowly but surely I will do it.

CreateHubpages on March 13, 2012:

Thank you very much for posting an information about James Monroe.

Angela Michelle Schultz (author) from United States on March 12, 2012:

Thank you!

Don A. Hoglund from Wisconsin Rapids on March 12, 2012:

Nice summary of a good president.I'll share with followers.

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