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.