James Monroe Presidential Accomplishments & Contributions

  • Post last modified:April 8, 2022

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James Monroe, the fifth US President, followed James Madison. He became the last of the Founding Fathers to hold the presidency. James Monroe Presidential Accomplishments & Contributions made him an above-average president. His best-known accomplishment became the foreign policy that bears his name, The Monroe Doctrine. Monroe told European countries to keep their hands off the Western Hemisphere! And here’s the link back to the overall US Presidents’ post.

James Monroe's Home
James Monroe’s Home in Virginia

Monroe’s early life

Born in Westmoreland County, Virginia, in 1758, Monroe attended William & Mary College. He earned honors fighting in the Continental Army, and he practiced law in Fredericksburg, VA. His former home became the museum you see above. (Here’s a link to more information about his presidency.)

He did serve with General Washington and spent the historic winter of 1777-78 at Valley Forge with Washington’s unit. He was injured in the Battle of Trenton. After several other battles, he returned to Virginia in 1778, serving in the Virginia Militia. Following his wartime service, he studied law under Thomas Jefferson. He then practiced law before and during his early political career.

More about Monroe’s public life

Monroe served in the Continental Congress from 1783 until 1786. He left office when his term limits ended to practice law and became an attorney for the State of Virginia. He also continued to serve in the Virginia House of Delegates. Monroe supported the Constitutional Convention but couldn’t attend due to his duties in Virginia. Monroe played a vital role in the ratification by the State of Virginia.

The Virginia ratification process became difficult as crucial figures in the state took both sides and others remained centrists to work out a compromise. Monroe and Edmund Pendleton played critical roles in the compromises needed to become the 10th state to ratify the new constitution.

After the Constitution takes effect

Monroe ran against his friend James Madison to serve their US House district in the First Congress. Although he lost to Madison, they remained friends, and the Virginia House of Delegates appointed Monroe to a vacant US Senate seat in 1790. He served in the Senate until 1794, when he resigned at George Washington’s request to become ambassador to France.

He held that position for over two years and then became Governor of Virginia until 1802. Monroe then accepted the position of Ambassador to the United Kingdom from 1803 to 1807. From 1807 until 1811, Monroe returned to private life, dedicating himself to both his plantation and his law practice.

Beginning in 1811, Monroe held the office of Governor of Virginia, Secretary of War, and Secretary of State. He served under his friend James Madison. Most importantly, his service to Madison and the US put him in a position to run for the US Presidency. His wartime leadership held him in good stead with his party and the electorate.

Monroe’s time as President – James Monroe Presidential Accomplishments

Monroe won easily over Rufus King, the Federalist party candidate. He served as President from 1817 to 1825. On the positive side, Monroe signed the Missouri Compromise, which admitted Missouri as a slave state but denied any state north of the 36th parallel (the famous Mason-Dixon line) and west of Missouri from becoming slave states. He supported the repatriation of formerly enslaved people back to Africa. Of course, Liberia’s capital, Monrovia, obtained its name in his honor.

The Federalist Party collapsed during his presidency, and he ran virtually unopposed for re-election in 1820. Monroe’s accomplishments included securing Florida from Spain with the 1819 Adams-Onis Treaty. Finally, though he espoused the opposition for years, in 1823, he publicized his opposition to European intervention in the Americas. This policy became known as the Monroe Doctrine after his death.

Monroe’s other accomplishments & retirement – “James Monroe Presidential Accomplishments”

Monroe’s administration negotiated treaties with Great Britain, France, and Spain. And these treaties gave the US a demilitarized Great Lakes, the Oregon Territory, and a border between the US and Canada. Therefore, his presidency continued the westward expansion of the US. His domestic accomplishments remained small, as the presidency at the time hadn’t evolved to have much power in that area. Over the coming years, the balance between federal and state changed, especially after the Civil War.

Monroe moved into retirement in Fredericksburg and, after his wife died in 1830, moved to New York City to live with his daughter. Interestingly, he died on July 4th, 1831, sharing the distinction of dying on the nation’s anniversary with Adams and Jefferson.

Classic Rock Recollection

“America” by Simon & Garfunkel

“Let us be lovers, we’ll marry our fortunes together
I’ve got some real estate here in my bag”
So we bought a pack of cigarettes and Mrs. Wagner pies
And walked off to look for America

“Kathy”, I said as we boarded a Greyhound in Pittsburgh
“Michigan seems like a dream to me now”
It took me four days to hitchhike from Saginaw
I’ve gone to look for America

Written by: Paul Simon
(Maybe not the best fit, but….)

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