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The Last Of The Cocked Hats

February 20, 2012 by staff 

The Last Of The C**ked Hats, James Monroe (April 28, 1758 – July 4, 1831) was the fifth President of the United States (1817-1825). Monroe was the last president who was a Founding Father of the United States, and the last president from the Virginia dynasty and the Republican Generation. His presidency was marked both by an “Era of Good Feelings” – a period of relatively little partisan strife – and later by the Panic of 1819 and a fierce national debate over the admission of the Missouri Territory. Monroe is most noted for his proclamation of the Monroe Doctrine in 1823, which stated that the United States would not tolerate further European intervention in the Americas.

Born in Westmoreland County, Virginia, Monroe fought in the American Revolutionary War. He was injured in the Battle of Trenton with a musket ball to his shoulder. After studying law under Thomas Jefferson from 1780 to 1783, he served as a delegate in the Continental Congress. As an anti-federalist delegate to the Virginia convention that considered ratification of the United States Constitution, Monroe opposed ratification, claiming it gave too much power to the central government. Nonetheless, Monroe took an active part in the new government and in 1790 he was elected to the Senate of the first United States Congress, where he joined the Jeffersonians. He gained experience as an executive as the Governor of Virginia and rose to national prominence when as a diplomat in France he helped negotiate the Louisiana Purchase in 1803. Monroe was of French and Scottish descent.

During the War of 1812, Monroe held the critical roles of Secretary of State and the Secretary of War under President James Madison. Facing little opposition from the fractured Federalist Party, Monroe was easily elected president in 1816, winning over 80 percent of the electoral vote and becoming the last president during the First Party System era of American politics. As president, he sought to ease partisan tensions and embarked on a tour of the country and was well received everywhere. As nationalism surged, partisan fury subsided and the “Era of Good Feelings” ensued until the Panic of 1819 struck and dispute over the admission of Missouri embroiled the country in 1820. Nonetheless, Monroe won near-unanimous reelection. In 1823, he announced the Monroe Doctrine, which became a landmark in American foreign policy. His presidency concluded the first period of American presidential history before the beginning of Jacksonian democracy and the Second Party System era. Following his retirement in 1825, Monroe was plagued by financial difficulties. He died in New York City on July 4, 1831.

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