James Monroe
— 5th President of the United States —

View full portraits at:
National Portrait Gallery or the White House Presidential Portrait Gallery


POLITICAL PARTY:Democratic-Republican
TERM: March 4, 1817 to March 3, 1825

BORN: April 28, 1758
BIRTHPLACE: Westmoreland County, Virginia
DIED:July 4, 1831, New York City.
Buried in Richmond, Virginia
MARRIED: Elizabeth Kortwright, 1786
CHILDREN: Eliza, Maria

Like his predecessors Washington, Jefferson, and Madison, James Monroe was the son of a Virginia farmer. He considered himself lucky to be able to go to school. His favorite subjects were Latin and mathematics. He loved to hunt and fish. The Virginia forests were filled with deer, rabbits, and squirrels, and the streams teemed with fish. When the time came for him to go to college, he attended William and Mary, like most other young men in Virginia. While in college, he studied law, but that did not last long.

After only six months in college, the Revolutionary War started, and James Monroe joined General Washington's army in New York. Soon after joining, he became a lieutenant and fought in many battles during the war. At the battle of Trenton, he was shot, and the bullet stayed in his shoulder for the rest of his life.

After the war, he studied law with Thomas Jefferson and entered politics. He became a delegate to the Continental Congress, a U.S. senator, governor of Virginia, diplomat, Secretary of State, Secretary of War, and eventually President of the United States.

In 1816, he was elected president and reelected in 1820. President Monroe was joined in the White House by his wife Elizabeth and his daughters. Monroe's eight years in office were marked by four events that made his administration memorable. The first was the great business panic of 1819. Second was the Missouri Compromise between slavery and freedom. Missouri was admitted to the Union as a slave state and Maine as a free state, while the Louisiana Territory was half free and half slave. Third was adding Florida to the territory of the United States. Fourth was the Monroe Doctrine, which said that any invasion of the two Americas would not be tolerated. Some other important events that occurred during his term in office were that Mississippi, Illinois, and Alabama were also admitted as states.

President Monroe retired in 1825 and moved back to Virginia, where he lived for six more years until he died on July 4, 1831.

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From the Shadows