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, 18-years-old and seven months pregnant, she left her family and native state to move with Monroe to Fredericksburg. She was also known for visiting Madame de Lafayette in prison and thereby securing her release.
The Monroe’s marriage was long and happy and Monroe spoke often of their partnership. Happy anniversary, James and Elizabeth!
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