12 The Second War for Independence and, the Upsurge of Nationalism, 1812–1824 Chapter Themes Theme

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James Monroe (1758–1831)

Monroe was the last of the “Virginia dynasty” of presidents who presided over the “Era of Good Feelings.”

He owed much of his political rise to Jefferson and in 1788 purchased a new plantation in order to live closer to Monticello.

Although not present at the Constitutional Convention, Monroe was a delegate to the Virginia ratifying convention, where he opposed the Constitution. He was thus the only Anti-Federalist elected president.

As minister to France in 1794, Monroe was sharply criticized for his excessively friendly remarks to the Revolutionary National Convention. He maneuvered for the presidency as early as 1809 but backed down when Madison became the clear favorite.

He was diligent, persevering, efficient, but rather unimaginative and colorless, especially compared with the other Virginia presidents.
Quote: “The Missouri question absorbs, by its importance, and the excitement it has produced, every other.…I have never known a question so menacing to the tranquillity and even the continuance of our Union as the present one. All other subjects have given way to it and appear to be almost forgotten.” (Letter to Jefferson, 1820)
reference: Harry Ammon, James Monroe: The Quest for National Identity (1971).

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