Monday, July 5, 2010

The American President #5: James Monroe

Please feel free to add anything you want about James Monroe

- 5th President of the USA; Born April 28, 1758 (Westmoreland County, VA); Died July 4th, 1831 in NYC (3rd President to die on July 4th)
- Two-term President: March 4, 1817-Mach 4, 1825; Vice-President Daniel D. Tompkins (1817-1825)

- Religion: Episcopalian
- Higher education: College of William and Mary, 1776
- Profession: Lawyer; Senator

-Election of 1816: Electoral vote Monroe 118 to Rufus King 94; no popular vote
-Election of 1820: Electoral vote Monroe 231 to John Quincy Adams 1 (Seriously – he ran unopposed as did Washington, with one person casting a no vote simply because he did not like him); no popular vote

-James Monroe is the only person to serve as both secretary of state and secretary of war (defense) simultaneously

-As governor in Virginia, Monroe was present during the 1800 event known as ‘Gabriel’s Rebellion, a planned slave revolt. Monroe had militia at hand ready to prevent anything from happening, and the leader Gabriel was caught and hung, along with 35 others in what Monroe termed “this unpleasant event in our history.”

-Monroe would later make it publicly known that he was in favor of ending slavery via repatriation of freed slaves back to Africa.

-in 1803 Monroe was the broker of one of the most astounding land deals in history, working with Napolean in France he managed to procure the Louisiana Purchase at a mere 3 cents per acre, for all land headed West. At 15 million dollars total it was 10 million more than his original authorization, but upon learning the details of the plan he felt it was well within reason to move forward.

-It would be years later before the Spanish could be convinced to give up what is now Florida, as it had never fully been involved int eh French portion of the Purchase. Some fighting did ensue and war hero Andrew Jackson even went so far as to hang to British subjects he claimed were inciting Seminole raids. At 5 million dollars the US convinced everyone to give up the land.

--His Presidency became known as the ‘era of good feelings’ because following their defeat in 1816, the Federalist party collapsed, eliminating the rancorous partnership that had been held between the Federalists and the Republicans With the war of 1812 behind them, the country looked ahead to expansion.

-Monroe and his family moved back into the rebuilt White House (fresh from being burned during the War of 1812) and the building received its characteristic white coating.

-The Missouri Compromise was a huge deal – until then the US had been equally divided among free and slave states, but Missouri wanted to join as a slave state. In 1820 it was Speaker of the House Henry Clay who proposed that Missouri enter as a slave state and Maine as a free state. All other lands of the 36/30 N latitude would be free (this law was later overturned by the 1854 Kansas-Nebraska Act and the Dred Scott Supreme Court decision)

-The Monroe Doctrine is what has become the ultime legacy of the 5th President. This document proclaimed to the world that that the United States’ opinion was that Europe should stop attempting to colonize the western hemisphere. This policy would shape American foreign policy from that point forward.

Random things:

-The first successful blood transfusion is performed in London
- Congress agrees to limit the number of stripes on the American flag to 13 and always add a star for new states.
- Fourth US census shows population at 9.6 million
-Census shows Great Britain at 20.8 million and France at 30.4 million
- May 11 the HMS Beagle sets sail with Charles Darwin

-Jean-Francois Champollian decodes Egyptian hieroglyphs using the Rosetta Stone

2008: - $1 James Monroe Presidential coin released

Thoughts on his inaugural speeches:

March 14, 1817 – Monroe speaks of the fact that only 40 years have passed since the Revolution, and just 28 since the Constitution, yet so much has passed. He spends quite a bit of time speaking about personal freedoms and the end of the recent war. He speaks of how fortunate the USA is to now lay claim to every climate imaginable with such vast resources, and how it is important that the people maintain the land accordingly. And in one interesting paragraph, knowing what we know now, he states “With the Indian tribes it is our duty to cultivate friendly relations and to act with kindness and liberality in all our transactions. Equally proper is it to preserve in our efforts to extend to them the advantages of civilization.”

March 5, 1821 – Monroe speaks quite a bit about the details of what has transpired since the end of the war and acquisition of the Florida region and access to the Gulf of Mexico. He also spends a lot of time on relations with the British, French and Spain. As a follow up to the Indian tribes: The care of Indian tribes within our limits has long been an essential part of our system, but, unfortunately, it has not been executed in a manner to accomplish all the objects intended by it…” He continues on to proclaim that it will simply not work to have tribes lay claim to such vast areas of the West while the USA rapidly expands in that direction, and he hopes that reasonable efforts can be made to allow the tribes their own lands while also allowing expansion for the USA.

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