Born on April 28, 1758 in Westmoreland County, Virginia to immigrants of Scotland—James Monroe certainly had his work cut out for him as he developed through young adulthood. Although Monroe had some sort of formal education, mot of his time was dedicated to his family-owned farm. Unfortunately, by the time Monroe was sixteen, both if his parents had passed away, and being the oldest sibling, he was forced to withdraw from school and take care of his younger siblings. Eventually, James Jones (Monroe’s uncle) took Monroe and his siblings in and enrolled him in the College of William and Mary for a promise of a better future. During this time the Revolutionary War broke out, and Monroe was more than happy to be of service but had to drop out of college as a result. Monroe served as an officer in the Continental Army and fought in battle on the daily. Once the war ended, he decided to study law which unintentionally sparked his interest in politics.
As a result of Monroe’s newfound passion, he began a career in politics and started out serving in the Virginia House of Delegates where he primarily focused on property control and borders—as the Northwest Ordinance was created to have more governmental control involving land. Later on Monroe served as an ambassador to France and addressed the National Convention, which brought a degree of republicanism to his French counterparts. After serving for quite some time, Monroe decided to venture back to Virginia where he became governor and helped organized the Louisiana Purchase—which was the biggest land expansion in United States history. Right before announcing his candidacy for president he went back to serve as Virginia State governor, but only served for four months before winning the presidential election of 1816 through electoral votes.
Monroe was inaugurated on March 4, 1817 and essentially began his presidential duties right away, focusing primarily on land expansion and administration of domestic affairs. Within his presidency he was able to appoint a geographically balanced cabinet through which he led the executive branch. Monroe was also able to create and follow through on the Missouri Compromise, which allowed the people of Missouri to draft a constitution and form of government before their official admission into the union. Monroe was not only able to balance internal affairs but focus his efforts on foreign affairs as well—as he created treaties with Britain and Russia to keep peace in the aftermath of the War of 1812. Within his time, he also created one of the most famous historical documents known as The Monroe Doctrine, which basically avoided the repetition of mistakes that happened throughout the Latin American Revolutionary Wars. Lastly, amongst everything else, Monroe was able to get five new states added to our nation (Mississippi, Illinois, Alabama, Maine, and Missouri) which inspired our rapid growth later in history.
When Monroe ended his second term as president he served on the Board of Visitors at the University of Virginia and for the most part stood out of politics. Unfortunately, Monroe passed away on July 4, 1831 from tuberculosis at the age of 73. Monroe’s dedication to land expansion and domestic affairs made our America possible today!