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

Updated on December 6, 2019
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Angela loves history and feels it is essential to our future to know the past—or else be 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. He was born on April 28, 1758, 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 ever 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 been a result of 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

James Monroe agreed to purchase Florida.
James Monroe agreed to purchase Florida. | Source

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. It was during this time that he caught the eyes of both George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson felt Monroe was going to 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 have also been 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. The high respect Madison had 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! | Source

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, which became known as the "Era of Good Feelings." His term was labeled this for many reasons. First of all, everyone was very 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.

Basic Facts

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, New York. 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, served in the US Senate, as well as the Continental Congress. He also served during a time when we became more independent, finally getting away from European direction.

List of American Presidents

1. George Washington
16. Abraham Lincoln
31. Herbert Hoover
2. John Adams
17. Andrew Johnson
32. Franklin D. Roosevelt
3. Thomas Jefferson
18. Ulysses S. Grant
33. Harry S. Truman
4. James Madison
19. Rutherford B. Hayes
34. Dwight D. Eisenhower
5. James Monroe
20. James Garfield
35. John F. Kennedy
6. John Quincy Adams
21. Chester A. Arthur
36. Lyndon B. Johnson
7. Andrew Jackson
22. Grover Cleveland
37. Richard M. Nixon
8. Martin Van Buren
23. Benjamin Harrison
38. Gerald R. Ford
9. William Henry Harrison
24. Grover Cleveland
39. James Carter
10. John Tyler
25. William McKinley
40. Ronald Reagan
11. James K. Polk
26. Theodore Roosevelt
41. George H. W. Bush
12. Zachary Taylor
27. William Howard Taft
42. William J. Clinton
13. Millard Fillmore
28. Woodrow Wilson
43. George W. Bush
14. Franklin Pierce
29. Warren G. Harding
44. Barack Obama
15. James Buchanan
30. Calvin Coolidge
45. Donald Trump

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.
  • 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 to ever 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 | C-SPAN.org. (n.d.). Retrieved April 21, 2016, from http://www.americanpresidents.org/presidents/president.asp?PresidentNumber=5
  • Miller Center of Public Affairs, University of Virginia. “James Monroe: Family Life.” Accessed April 21, 2016. http://millercenter.org­/president/biography/monroe-family-life.
  • Profiles of U.S. Presidents. (n.d.). Retrieved April 21, 2016, from http://www.presidentprofiles.com/Washington-Johnson/James-Monroe-Foundations-of-the-monroe-doctrine.html
  • 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 http://www.ipl.org/div/potus/jmonroe.html
  • What are some interesting facts about presidents and first ladies? (n.d.). Retrieved April 20, 2016, from https://www.whitehousehistory.org/questions/what-are-some-interesting-facts-about-presidents-first-ladies

Questions & Answers

    © 2012 Angela Michelle Schultz


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      • Dennis AuBuchon profile image

        Dennis AuBuchon 

        6 years ago

        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 profile imageAUTHOR

        Angela Michelle Schultz 

        8 years ago from United States

        Thank you!

      • kmkellum profile image


        8 years ago

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

      • angela_michelle profile imageAUTHOR

        Angela Michelle Schultz 

        8 years ago from United States

        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 profile image

        John Sarkis 

        8 years ago from Winter Haven, FL

        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 profile imageAUTHOR

        Angela Michelle Schultz 

        8 years ago from United States

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

      • CreateHubpages profile image


        8 years ago

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

      • angela_michelle profile imageAUTHOR

        Angela Michelle Schultz 

        8 years ago from United States

        Thank you!

      • dahoglund profile image

        Don A. Hoglund 

        8 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

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


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