Today in History: Monroe begins first term as Governor of Virginia

On December 17, 1799, Monroe began the first of four terms as Governor of Virginia. (He was nominated a fifth time, but declined!) He was the first governor to administer from the brand-new (Jefferson-designed) state capitol building in Richmond.

William Wirt wrote of Monroe at this time: “The [Governor] of this Commonwealth is the same [man] who was, not many years ago, the [minister] at Paris. His present office is sufficient evidence of the estimation in which he is held by his native state … His countenance, when grave, has rather the expression of sternness and irascibility; a smile, however (and a smile is not unusual with him in a social circle), lights it up to a very high advantage, and gives it a most impressive and engaging air of suavity and benevolence.” (From The Letters of a British Spy.)