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James Monroe

Gov. James Monroe

  • December 19, 1799 - December 24, 1802
  • Democratic-Republican
  • April 28, 1758
  • July 4, 1831
  • Virginia
  • College of William and Mary
  • Married Eliza Kortright; two children
  • Senator, President, Cabinet secretary, Ambassador
  • Army


JAMES MONROE was born near Colonial Beach, Virginia. He attended the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg. He enlisted in the Third Virginia Regiment as a Lieutenant and was eventually promoted to Major. He was wounded at Trenton in 1776. He was later admitted to the Bar and practiced law in Fredericksburg in 1786. That same year, he was elected to the Virginia House of Delegates and served as a member of the Virginia convention for the ratification of the Constitution in 1788. He was elected to the U.S. Senate to fill the vacancy caused by the death of William Gray and was reelected, serving from 1790 to 1794, after which he resigned to accept appointment as Minister Plenipotentiary to France, a position that he held until 1796. He was elected by the Virginia state legislature to serve three one-year terms as governor. After leaving office, he was appointed Minister Plenipotentiary of France once again and then to the same position in England. Upon his return to the United States, he served in the Virginia House of Delegates in 1810 and 1811 and then was elected governor once more but served for only three months before resigning to become Secretary of State under President James Madison. He went on to serve as Secretary of War and was elected President of the United States for two terms, from 1817 to 1825. His presidential legacy includes the doctrine that bears his name, opposing European conquest of Latin America. He also served as President when the famous Missouri Compromise was adopted, pairing Missouri as a slave state with Maine as a free state and permanently barring slavery north and west of Missouri. Monroe died on the anniversary of Independence Day and was buried in Marble Cemetery but reenterred at Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond.


Garraty, John A. and Carnes, Mark C., eds. American National Biography, Vol. 15. New York, Oxford University Press, 1999.

Leonard, Cynthia Miller, comp. The General Assembly of Virginia, July 30, 1619-January 11, 1978: A Bicentennial Register of Members. Richmond: published for the General Assembly of Virginia by the Virginia State Library, 1978.

Library of Virginia, Virginia Governor (1799-1802: Monroe), Executive Papers. Accession 40936. Biographical/Historical Note. State Government Records Collection, Library of Virginia, Richmond, VA 23219.

Library of Virginia, Virginia Governor, Executive Papers (1811: Monroe). Accession 41252. Biographical/Historical Note. State Government Records Collection, Library of Virginia, Richmond, VA 23219.

Mitchell, Mary H. Hollywood Cemetery: The History of a Southern Shrine. Richmond: Library of Virginia, 1999.

The National Cyclopaedia of American Biography, Vol. 6. New York: James T. White & Company.

Salmon, Emily and Edward D. C. Campbell, Jr. Hornbook of Virginia History. 4th ed. Richmond: Library of Virginia, 1994.

Smith, Margaret Vowell. Virginia, 1492-1892: A History of the Executives. Washington, D.C.: W. H. Lowdermilk & Co., 1893.

Sobel, Robert, and John Raimo, eds. Biographical Directory of the Governors of the United States, 1789-1978, Vol. 4. Westport, CT: Meckler Books, 1978. 4 vols

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