“James Monroe at War,” an online lecture by the museum, now on YouTube!

Visit our YouTube channel to view this new online lecture prepared by director Scott Harris! … [Read more...]

“Portraits of James Monroe,” presentation by Daniel Preston, on C-SPAN

Daniel Preston, editor of the Papers of James Monroe, gave a presentation examining the different portraits of James Monroe as part of the symposium "James Monroe: Life and Legacy" in October. C-SPAN filmed the presentation and aired it last week. You can view the presentation here. … [Read more...]

Director Scott Harris interviewed for WHYY radio program.

JMM director Scott Harris was interviewed for a 24 December story on WHYY's NewsWorks entitled "The crossing of the Delaware you haven't heard about!" Go here to read a text of the story or download an audio file. … [Read more...]

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 … [Read more...]

The Month of May for James Monroe

Several dates in May were significant to Monroe's career and personal life.  In May 1786, he led opposition in the Continental Congress to a proposed treaty with Spain that he saw as an obstacle to America's westard expansion. Eight years later, on May 28, 1794, Monroe was appointed U.S. minister to France. In May 1799, Elizabeth Monroe gave birth to the couple's only son, James Spence Monroe, who died the following year. In May of 1810, following several years of political and personal estrangement, James Monroe made peace with his old friend and colleague James Madison. This reconciliation helped set up the next stage of Monroe's career in the federal government. May of 1818 was a busy month, as Gen. Andrew Jackson invaded Spain's Florida territory while President Monroe was touring the Chesapeake Bay region. The last great May date in Monroe's life came on May 14, 1831 when he resigned from the board of visitors of the University of Virginia, less than two months before his … [Read more...]

Today in History: Rush-Bagot Treaty Signed

On April 20, 1817, the Rush-Bagot Treaty was signed between the U.S. and Great Britain - one of the first acts of Monroe's first presidential term. The treaty regulated naval armaments on the Great Lakes and Lake Champlain after the War of 1812, demilitarizing the border between the U.S. and Canada. It created the world's longest east-west boundary (5,527 miles), which is also said to be the world's largest demilitarized zone. Read more about the Rush-Bagot Treaty. … [Read more...]

Today in History: Monroe is Appointed Secretary of State

On April 2, 1811, President James Madison appointed Monroe secretary of state. Monroe had just been elected to a fourth term as governor of Virginia, but had only served for three months when he was called to Washington. Madison had originally appointed Robert Smith, a member of a prominent Maryland political family, to the post, but Smith was proving unsuited to the role. Relations between Monroe and Madison had been uneasy, as Monroe believed that Madison, as secretary of state, was responsible for the rejection of a treaty with Great Britain that Monroe negotiated as Minister to that country. The two men had also been rivals in the 1808 presidential election. However, during Monroe's tenure as secretary of state, they renewed their friendship and came to trust each other once again. Read more about James Monroe's service as secretary of state here. … [Read more...]

Happy 226th anniversary, James and Elizabeth!

James and Elizabeth Monroe were married on February 16, 1786, in New York City. Monroe, 25 years old, was in New York serving as a member of the Continental Congress, and Elizabeth was the 17-year-old daughter of Lawrence Kortright, prosperous city merchant. Elizabeth and her three sisters were celebrated beauties in New York society. Monroe's cousin, William Grayson, reported to Monroe in November of 1785 that the Kortright sisters had visited the theater and made such a lovely picture that all the young men left their seats to gather around them! After her marriage, Elizabeth was known for her grace, elegance and fashion sense; she was called "la belle americaine" by the French, and Louisa Catherine Adams, the wife of John Quincy Adams, wrote that she "was dressed in white and gold made in the highest style of fashion and moved not like a Queen ... but like a goddess." Elizabeth Monroe was more than just a beauty, however - she was also a brave and spirited woman. In 1786, … [Read more...]

February 2 in History

On February 2, 1789, James Madison defeated Monroe in election to U.S. House of Representatives. The campaign was more of a forum on the new Constitution; the two candidates traveled the district together, with Madison praising the new government and Monroe calling for the addition of a Bill of Rights. Monroe would be elected to the U.S. Senate the following year, and would serve two terms. Monroe first met Madison when Monroe was a member of the Continental Congress and Madison was in the House of Delegates. The two were usually friends, but rivalry would cause rifts in their friendship several times. A second time was when they would run against each other for president in 1808. In this second case, their disagreement was over relations with Great Britain: Monroe favored diplomacy while Madison was a proponent of economic coercion. However, when Monroe was elected president in 1817, he spoke highly of his predecessor: "Of [him], under whom so important a portion of this great and … [Read more...]

James Monroe’s Presidential Campaigns

With the 2012 presidential campaign gearing up, we wondered how Monroe conducted his two campaigns for president in 1816 and 1820. As it turns out, he had quite an easy time of it! When James Madison announced that he would only serve two terms, Monroe was virtually guaranteed to receive the Democratic-Republican party's nomination as successor. He had only one main opponent within his own party, William Crawford, and even Crawford did not try very hard to run against him for fear of potentially losing a cabinet seat in a Monroe presidency. The opposition party, the Federalists, had lost most of its political clout by 1816, and their candidate, Rufus King, was not formally endorsed. There was very little negative campaigning, as Monroe was popular throughout the country, revered as the last of the Revolutionary generation. He won the vast majority of the Electoral College votes, 183 to King's 34. And by 1820, the Federalist party had declined so greatly that it did not even … [Read more...]