The Month of June for James Monroe

The sixth month contained significant happenings throughout James Monroe’s life, not the least of which was the birth of his future wife Elizabeth Kortright on June 30, 1768. Among other notable June dates in Monroe’s life were:

  • June, 1774: James Monroe enrolls at the College of William and Mary.  His studies would be interrupted by the outbreak of American Revolution the following year.
  • June 28, 1778: At the Battle of Monmouth (NJ), Major James Monroe led a company of infantry on a reconnaissance of the opposing British army. In a dispatch to General George Washington, he wrote, “Sir–Upon not receiving any answer to my first information and observing the enemy inclining toward your right I thought it advisable to hang as close on them as possible—I am at present within four hundred yrds. of their right—I have only about 70 men who are now fatigued much. I have taken three prisoners—If I had six horsemen I think If I co’d serve you in no other way I sho’d in the course of the night procure good intelligence w’h I wo’d as soon as possible convey you. I am Sir your most ob’t Serv’t Jas. Monroe.”
  • June-August, 1780: Monroe acts as a military observer of Continental Army operations in North Carolina for Virginia governor Thomas Jefferson. During this trip he forged a lifelong friendship with Thomas Pinckney of South Carolina, who would one day be his political adversary. “The day after I joined [Major General Johann] De Kalbs army General Thomas (then Major) Pinckney, also joined it, & both of us having seen much service, & neither having any command, we moved together, with the small force under De Kalb, about two months lodgings in the same quarters every night, and breakfasting & dining together every day.  Both of us having been liberally educated, both acting on pure principles, looking to a complete revolution in favor of liberty, our connection was intimate, & friendship sincere.”
  • June, 1782: After two years of studying law with Thomas Jefferson, Monroe is admitted to the Virginia bar. On the 7th day of the month, he is appointed to the Council of State of Virginia, an advisory body to the governor.
  • June 6, 1783: James Monroe is elected to the Continental Congress, in which he soon demonstrate his core commitments to national defense, westward expansion, and opposition to foreign interference in American affairs.
  • June 2-27, 1788: As a member of the Virginia convention called to ratify the U.S. Constitution, Monroe votes against ratification, in part over the lack of a bill of rights. The convention ratifies the document, and the bill of rights is later added as the first ten amendments.
  • June 18, 1812: The United States Congress declares war on Great Britain, a little more than a year after James Monroe took office as secretary of state in the administration of James Madison.  Following the burning of Washington he would simultaneously hold office as secretary of war.
  • June-September, 1817:  President James Monroe conducts a well publicized and highly successful tour of northern states, the first of trhee such journies he would make around the country. In his 1820 book chronicling the president’s tours, S. Putnam Waldo wrote of Monroe’s arrival in Baltimore on June 1: “It was the first place of consequence that he reached in his Tour, and the inhabitants set an honourable example to all the rest of the large towns through which he might pass. It was impossible for the President to be an unmoved spectator of the voluntary civility of the people, nor could he hear the spontaneous acclamations of the multitude, without reciprocating this impressive evidence of their esteem.”
  • June 1, 1818: Monroe arrives in Norfolk, Virginia during a cruise of the Chesapeake Bay region. The popular response, as demonstrated by this excerpt from the City of Norfolk’s welcome message, remained as enthusiastic as it was during the previous year: “A life devoted from early youth to the service of your country, and illustrated by the distinguished part you have taken in various prominent scenes, may justly challenge, sir, the honours conferred by your recent elevation to the presidential seat—And the vivid demonstrations of unaffected joy, which have attended your tour through the states, bear ample testimony, that the spotless tenor of your private character, has established a claim, equally estimable and gratifying in the endearing affections of the people.”