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Letter/label/spacer or doddleFIFTH PRESIDENT.Letter/label/spacer or doddle35

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AMES MONROE, the fifth President of The United States, was born in Westmoreland Co., Va., April 28, 1758. His early life was passed at the place of nativity. His ancestors had for many years resided in the province in which he was born. When, at 17 years of age, in the process of completing his education at William and Mary College, the Colonial Congress assembled at Philadelphia to deliberate upon the unjust and manifold oppressions of Great Britian, declared the separation of the Colonies, and promulgated the Declaration of Independence. Had he been born ten years before it is highly probable that he would have been one of the signers of that celebrated instrument. At this time he left school and enlisted among the patriots.
   He joined the army when everything looked hopeless and gloomy. The number of deserters increased from day to day. The invading armies came pouring in; and the tories not only favored the cause of the mother country, but disheartened the new recruits, who were sufficiently terrified at the prospect of contending with an enemy whom they had been taught to deem invincible. To such brave spirits as James Monroe, who went right onward, undismayed through difficulty and danger, the United States owe their political emancipation. The young cadet joined the ranks and espoused the cause of his injured country, with a firm determination to live or die with her strife for liberty. Firmly yet sadly he shared in the melancholy retreat from Harleam Heights and White Plains, and accompanied the dispirited army as it fled before its foes through New Jersey. In four months after the Declaration of Independence, the patriots had been beaten in seven battles. At the battle of Trenton he led the vanguard, and, in the act of charging upon the enemy he received a wound in the left shoulder.
   As a reward for his bravery, Mr. Monroe was, promoted a captain of infantry; and, having recovered from his wound, he rejoined the army. He, however, receded from the line of promotion, by becoming an officer in the staff of Lord Sterling. During the campaigns of 1777 and 1778, in the actions of Brandywine, Germantown and Monmouth, he continued aid-de-camp; but becoming desirous to regain his position in the army, he exerted himself to collect a regiment for the Virginia line. This scheme failed owing to the exhausted condition of the State. Upon this failure he entered the office of Mr. Jefferson, at that period Governor, and pursued, with considerable ardor, the study of common law. He did not, however, entirely lay aside the knapsack for the green bag, but on the invasions of the enemy, served as a volunteer, during the two years of his legal pursuits.
   In 1782, he was elected from King George county, a member of the Leglislature (sic) of Virginia, and by that body he was elevated to a seat in the Executive Council. He was thus honored with the confidence of his fellow citizens at 23 years of age; and having at this early period displayed some of that ability and aptitude for legislation, which were afterwards employed with unremitting energy for the public good,



36Letter/label/spacer or doddleJAMES MONROE.Letter/label/spacer or doddle

he was in the succeeding year chosen a member of the Congress of the United States.
   Deeply as Mr. Monroe felt the imperfections of the old Confederacy, he was opposed to the new Constitution, thinking, with many others of the Republican party, that it gave too much power to the Central Government, and not enough to the individual States. Still he retained the esteem of his friends who were its warm supporters, and who, notwithstanding his opposition secured its adoption. In 1789, he became a member of the United States Senate; which office he held for four years. Every month the line of distinction between the two great parties which divided the nation, the Federal and the Republican, was growing more distinct. The two prominent ideas which now separated them were, that the Republican party was in sympathy with France, and also in favor of such a strict construction of the Constitution as to give the Central Government as little power, and the State Governments as much power, as the Constitution would warrant. The Federalists sympathized with England, and were in favor of a liberal construction of the Constitution, which would give as much power to the Central Government as that document could possibly authorize.
   The leading Federalists and Republicans were alike noble men, consecrating all their energies to the good of the nation. Two more honest men or more pure patriots than John Adams the Federalist, and James Monroe the Republican, never breathed. In building up this majestic nation, which is destined to eclipse all Grecian and Assyrian greatness, the combination of their antagonism was needed to create the right equilibrium. And yet each in his day was denounced as almost a demon.
   Washington was then President. England had espoused the cause of the Bourbons against the principles of the French Revolution. All Europe was drawn into the conflict. We were feeble and far away. Washington issued a proclamation of neutrality between these contending powers. France had helped us in the struggle for our liberties. All the despotisms of Europe were now combined to prevent the French from escaping from a tyranny a thousand-fold worse than that which we had endured. Col. Monroe, more magnanimous than prudent, was anxious that, at whatever hazard, we should help our old allies in their extremity. It was the impulse of a generous and noble nature. He violently opposed the President's proclamation as ungrateful and wanting in magnanimity.
   Washington, who could appreciate such a character, developed his calm, serene, almost divine greatness, by appointing that very James Monroe, who was denouncing the policy of the Government, as the minister of that Government to the Republic of France. Mr. Monroe was welcomed by the National Convention in France with the most enthusiastic demonstrations.
   Shortly after his return to this country, Mr. Monroe was elected Governor of Virginia, and held the office for three years. He was again sent to France to co-operate with Chancellor Livingston in obtaining the vast territory then known as the Province of Louisiana, which France had but shortly before obtained from Spain. Their united efforts were successful. For the comparatively small sum of fifteen millions of dollars, the entire territory of Orleans and district of Louisiana were added to the United States. This was probably the largest transfer of real estate which was ever made in all the history of the world.
   From France Mr. Monroe went to England to obtain from that country some recognition of our rights as neutrals, and to remonstrate against those odious impressments of our seamen. But England was unrelenting. He again returned to England on the same mission, but could receive no redress. He returned to his home and was again chosen Governor of Virginia. This he soon resigned to accept the position of Secretary of State under Madison. While in this office war with England was declared, the Secretary of War resigned, and during these trying times, the duties of the War Department were also put upon him. He was truly the armor-bearer of President Madison, and the most efficient business man in his cabinet. Upon the return of peace he resigned the Department of War, but continued in the office of Secretary of State until the expiration of Mr. Madison's administration. At the election held the previous autumn Mr. Monroe himself had been chosen President with but little opposition, and upon March 4, 1817, was inaugurated. Four years later he was elected for a second term.
   Among the important measures of his Presidency were the cession of Florida to the United States; the Missouri Compromise, and the "Monroe doctrine."
   This famous doctrine, since known as the "Monroe doctrine," was enunciated by him in 1823. At that time the United States had recognized the independence of the South American states, and did not wish to have European powers longer attempting to subdue portions of the American Continent. The doctrine is as follows: "That we should consider any attempt on the part of European powers to extend their system to any portion of this hemisphere as dangerous to our peace and safety," and "that we could not view any interposition for the purpose of oppressing or controlling American governments or provinces in any other light than as a manifestation by European powers of an unfriendly disposition toward the United States." This doctrine immediately affected the course of foreign governments, and has become the approved sentiment of the United States.
   At the end of his second term Mr. Monroe retired to his home in Virginia, where he lived until 1830, when he went to New York to live with his son-in-law. In that city he died on the 4th of July, 1831.



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