1758 - 1831
fifth president of the United States (1817-1825) and the last of the so-called
Virginia dynasty of U.S. presidents. He succeeded his lifelong friends Thomas
Jefferson and James Madison in the nation's highest office. Monroe was a man of
good intelligence, sound judgment, and highest integrity. In more than 40 years
of public service, he never stinted of his energies in doing what he considered
his public duty.
president during the “Era of Good Feelings.” It was called that because
there were few political battles and his Democratic-Republican Party ruled
almost unopposed. It was a transitional period in which the nation's democratic
institutions and capitalist economy were taking form. National identity, as
opposed to narrow state interest, was growing as evidenced by the westward
movement and the construction of roads and canals. People who were leaving their
old colonial homes and moving west on the expanding frontier began to think of
themselves not as Virginians or New Yorkers, but principally as Americans. The
roads and canals, or internal improvements as they were called, were built to
tie together the nation's commerce. They were considered a national priority and
were often funded by Congress, whose members understood that an improved flow of
commerce in any section of the country would also benefit their own
Even though one
party dominated, political debate did not disappear. Factions developed in the
party over questions about tariffs (taxes on imports); the future of slavery;
and how to deal with Great Britain and other European colonial powers. As
President, Monroe consistently and successfully pursued a policy that served
both to protect the United States from European interference and to foster
unhampered growth of the nation and its economy. He was responsible for the
Monroe Doctrine, the principle that the United States would not tolerate new
colonies in the western hemisphere or interference by outside powers in the
internal affairs of nations in the western hemisphere.
was one of five children born to Spence Monroe, a carpenter, and Elizabeth Jones
Monroe. The family lived on a small farm at the edge of a forest in Westmoreland
County, Virginia. Young Monroe walked several miles through the forest to attend
the school of Parson Campbell, where John Marshall (later Chief Justice of the
Supreme Court of the United States), was a fellow student and close friend. It
was from Parson Campbell that Monroe learned the stern moral code that he
retained throughout his life.
entered the College of William and Mary, he was a solemn, studious 16-year-old.
But the year was 1774, and Monroe found it difficult to concentrate on his
studies as Virginia and other American colonies moved closer to war with Great
Britain. However, he remained at college for more than a year, during which his
father died. His uncle, Judge Joseph Jones, assumed the cost of Monroe's
education and became his guardian and trusted adviser.
In 1775 Monroe
left college to go to war. He became a lieutenant in the Third Virginia Regiment
of the Continental Army, formed that year to fight British troops. In August
1776 the regiment was ordered north to the army's main base at Harlem Heights,
outside New York City. They arrived during the American retreat from Manhattan
Island and fought at Harlem Heights and White Plains. Monroe accompanied the
retreating army through New Jersey and across the Delaware River into
Pennsylvania. On December 26, 1776, at the Battle of Trenton, Monroe's captain
was wounded and “the command fell on me,” as Monroe later explained, “and
soon after, I was shot through by a ball which grazed my breast.”
When he had
recovered from his wound, Monroe was named aide-de-camp to Major General Lord
Stirling. He fought in the battles of Brandywine and Germantown in the autumn of
1777. That winter he was with General George Washington at Valley Forge, and in
June 1778 he fought in the Battle of Monmouth.
Early in 1779,
Monroe, now a major, left the northern army, which was encamped outside New York
City with no immediate prospect of action. He arrived in Virginia in May, armed
with letters of recommendation from several prominent men, including General
Washington, who said of him: “He has in every instance maintained the
reputation of a brave, active, and sensible officer.” The Virginia legislature
made him a lieutenant colonel and commissioned him to lead a militia regiment
then being recruited. However, the unit was never formed, and for all practical
purposes, Monroe's military career was over.
commanding the regiment, Monroe became an aide to Thomas Jefferson, who was then
governor of Virginia. He also became Jefferson's pupil in the study of law.
During this period, Monroe began to see what course his life would take. At a
time when, as he expressed it, his “plan of life” was “perplexed,” he
later wrote Jefferson, “you became acquainted with me and undertook the
direction of my studies … my plan of life is now fixed.”
Member of the
barely settled in Prince Edward County, Virginia, when he was elected to the
state legislature in 1782. He was then 24 years old. The legislature elected him
to the executive council, of which he was the youngest member. In 1783 he was
elected to the Congress of the Confederation, which was then the governing body
of the United States under the Articles of Confederation. There he was the
youngest delegate to vote for ratification of the Treaty of Paris, which ended
the American Revolution.
in Congress for three years. It was during this time that he first became
interested in American expansion, specifically in the settlement of the Western
lands between the Allegheny Mountains and the Mississippi River. He was chairman
of two congressional committees, one that was concerned with free navigation on
the Mississippi River and the other with formation of a government for the
In 1784, during
a congressional recess, Monroe journeyed through the Western territories. He
went up the Hudson River, passed through the Great Lakes, visited the forts that
the British still held in the Northwest Territory in violation of the Treaty of
Paris, and returned by way of the Ohio River. With the information he gathered,
he helped to lay the groundwork for territorial government embodied in the
Northwest Ordinance enacted by Congress in 1787.
Congress, which was meeting in New York City, Monroe met Elizabeth Kortright,
whom he married in the spring of 1786. They had two daughters, and a son who
died in childhood.
1786, Monroe resigned from Congress and settled with his bride in
Fredericksburg, Virginia, where he began a law practice. His retirement from
politics was brief. He was soon elected to the town council, and then once again
to the Virginia legislature.
never lost touch with national politics. He corresponded regularly with both
Jefferson and Madison. In 1786 Monroe attended the Annapolis Convention, which
had been called to consider interstate commerce and other matters not covered by
the Articles of Confederation. The delegates decided to seek a new constitution
for the nation. However, Monroe was not named a delegate to the Constitutional
Convention. He blamed Madison and Edmund Randolph, governor of Virginia, for the
oversight. “The governor … hath shewn … a disposition to thwart me,” he
wrote Jefferson, and “Madison, upon whose friendship I have calculated, whose
views I have favor'd, and with whom I have held the most confidential
correspondence” he believed to be “in strict league” with the governor.
Constitutional Convention drafted the new Constitution of the United States in
1787, Monroe was elected a delegate to the Virginia convention called to ratify
it. Among the Virginians, Madison and Randolph were the chief spokesmen for
ratification, while Monroe, in the beginning at least, adopted a neutral stand.
Finally, however, he opposed ratification because the Constitution created too
strong a central government. Monroe made a strong appeal to the delegates from
the western part of the state, arguing that the Constitution was a threat to
free navigation on the Mississippi River. Madison effectively rebutted this
argument, but it won over a number of western delegates. Monroe also deplored
the absence of a Bill of Rights in the Constitution. Although he voted against
ratification, Monroe accepted the new government without any misgivings. Soon
afterward he ran for a seat in the House of Representatives, the lower house of
the Congress of the United States formed under the newly ratified Constitution.
He was defeated by Madison.
In 1789 Monroe
moved to Albemarle County, Virginia, near Jefferson's estate, Monticello.
Monroe's estate, Ash Lawn, was for almost 20 years the home to which he returned
whenever he was free from public duties. In 1790 he was elected to a recently
vacated seat in the U.S. Senate (the upper house of Congress). He was named to a
full six-year term the following year.
were no political parties in the United States at this time, there were
factions. The Federalist faction, identified with Secretary of the Treasury
Alexander Hamilton, favored an active federal government, a treasury that played
a prominent role in the nation's economic life, and a pro-British foreign
policy. By 1800 this faction became the Federalist Party. The Anti-Federalists,
of whom Thomas Jefferson was most prominent, favored a limited federal
government and a pro-French foreign policy. This faction later became the
Democratic-Republican Party. In the Senate, Monroe aligned himself with the
Anti-Federalists. Like them, he opposed any tendency toward centralization of
power in the national government at the expense of state sovereignty. In
international affairs, Monroe was sympathetic to the French Revolution
(1789-1799) and supported France in the wars that followed. Nevertheless, he
agreed with President Washington's policy of neutrality during the European wars
that followed the French Revolution.
In the spring
of 1794, Monroe resigned from the Senate to accept the diplomatic post of
minister plenipotentiary to France. His assignment was to help maintain friendly
relations with France in spite of U.S. efforts to remain on peaceful terms with
France's enemy Great Britain. He was chosen at least in part because of his
known sympathy for France, and it was hoped that he could calm any fears France
might have of American favoritism toward Britain.
in France was complicated. Apparently, from the outset, Monroe went too far in
identifying with the new Republic of France. His ardently pro-French speech to
the French assembly brought a reprimand from President Washington:
“Considering the place in which … delivered and the neutral policy the
country had to pursue, it was a measure that does not appear to have been well
devised by our minister.” Nor was the administration satisfied with Monroe's
attempts to justify Jay's Treaty, which the United States signed with Great
Britain in 1794 and which the French government found offensive because it made
concessions to the British.
1796, Monroe was recalled. He believed he had been betrayed by the Federalists
in the administration, who had, he felt, used him to appease France while they
made broad concessions to Britain in Jay's Treaty. This opinion was also held by
many other Americans, who were beginning to be molded into an opposition party
by Jefferson. Although Monroe blamed the policies and motives of his superiors
for the failure of his mission, he remained bitter about it for the rest of his
returned to the United States in June 1797, he found that political differences
had deepened between his friends and the Federalists in power, now headed by
President John Adams. His own relations with the Federalists had suffered
because of his European mission. From this time on, Monroe identified himself
more and more with the Anti-Federalists, soon to be called the
Democratic-Republican Party. After two years of retirement from public office,
Monroe was elected governor of Virginia. He served from 1799 to 1803, a
relatively uneventful period in the history of the state.
On the national
scene, however, a great political change occurred at this time. Jefferson was
elected President in 1800, and the Democratic-Republican Party was gaining in
popularity. In 1803 Monroe was named to be part of an “extraordinary
mission” to France. He was to help negotiate what has been called the largest
real estate transaction in history—the Louisiana Purchase.
arrived in France, U.S. diplomat Robert R. Livingston was already deep in
negotiations with the French for the acquisition of New Orleans and West
Florida. French Emperor Napoleon I offered instead to sell not only New Orleans,
but the entire Louisiana colony as well. However, no agreement was reached until
Monroe arrived. Although the Americans were not authorized to make such a large
purchase, they began negotiations. In April 1803, Monroe and Livingston
concluded the treaty that would more than double the size of their nation.
Although West Florida was Spanish territory and was not included in the bargain,
Monroe pressed Napoleon to include his ally's property as well. Napoleon
promised “to engage his support for our claim to the Floridas with Spain,”
but this was as far as he would go.
As soon as the
negotiations for the Louisiana Purchase were completed, Monroe crossed the
English Channel to take up duties as minister plenipotentiary to Great Britain.
His primary mission was to obtain relief from British harassment of U.S.
shipping, such as the seizure of cargoes bound for French ports, which Jay's
Treaty had not stopped. U.S. relations with Britain were particularly strained
at this time, and Monroe made little headway. Therefore, he was sent to Madrid
to explore Spain's readiness to consider a U.S. purchase of Florida. This errand
also proved useless.
In July 1805
Monroe returned to Britain to negotiate a treaty, assisted by diplomat William
Pinkney. However, the treaty was one of general agreement only and did not touch
on two vital issues: a British blockade of French ports and the impressment, or
forced induction, of American sailors into the British navy. It contained no
concessions to the United States, and Jefferson wisely refused to submit it to
the Senate for ratification. In late 1807 Monroe left for the United States.
in Washington, D.C., a few days before Jefferson signed the Embargo Act, which
halted nearly all U.S. land and sea commerce with foreign nations. This measure
was designed to hurt the British economy and thereby induce Britain to stop
harassing U.S. vessels. It turned out, however, to be as much of a failure in
this as was Monroe's treaty: British shippers actually profited from the removal
of U.S. competition.
allies, Jefferson and Madison, were cool toward him after his return. This was
because one faction of Jefferson's Democratic-Republican Party wanted Monroe as
a rival presidential candidate to Madison, Jefferson's secretary of state and
chosen successor, and Monroe did little to disavow the action. He was bitter
over the rejection of his treaty, and he did not support Madison in the election
of 1808. Moreover, Monroe's supporters, led by Jefferson's enemy, Congressman
John Randolph, made it seem that Monroe was encouraging them.
Monroe sent Jefferson all correspondence he had had with Randolph to assure him
there was “nothing … to sanction what has been most ungenerously
insinuated.” But the old friendship among Jefferson, Madison, and Monroe
remained disturbed for some time, and Madison did not offer Monroe a Cabinet
post when he became president in 1809.
Virginia politics, Monroe once more served in the legislature and was for a
second time elected governor. During these years, thanks to a long and honest
correspondence between them, the rift with Jefferson was gradually healed. When,
in 1811, Madison invited Monroe to become secretary of state, the friendship of
the three Virginians was reestablished.
State and of War
became secretary of state, relations with Britain had worsened. With both
Monroe's treaty and the Embargo Act having failed to halt British interference
with shipping, war now seemed certain. Monroe nevertheless worked to prevent it.
Unlike Madison, he favored a less aggressive attitude toward Britain. The French
had also been confiscating cargoes—in this case, those bound for British
ports—and in Monroe's opinion France's provocations were just as bad as those
of Britain. But the administration and Congress seemed determined to have war
with Britain, influenced partly by the prospect of annexing British-held
territory in North America and also, since Spain was now Britain's ally, Florida
War of 1812
had been opposed to war, when the War of 1812 was declared he loyally supported
Madison and his cause. Monroe served as secretary of state throughout the war,
and simultaneously as secretary of war for the latter part of it.
Monroe was back
in uniform briefly at the time of the British attack on Washington. He led the
Maryland militia in an unsuccessful attempt to stave off the British at
Bladensburg. After Washington was invaded and burned in 1814, the secretary of
war was dismissed and Monroe took on the full responsibilities of that post.
There were many problems facing Madison's administration: a bankrupt treasury,
an army badly led and badly equipped, a rebellious New England, and a hostile
Congress. Monroe helped to resolve some of them. He obtained loans from District
of Columbia banks, although he could offer no warranty but his word for their
repayment. He doubled the land bounty offered to enlistees in the army, lowered
the enlistment age to include minors, and authorized the incorporation of state
troops into the regular army at federal expense.
In August 1814
a U.S. peace commission, headed by expert diplomat John Quincy Adams, met at
Ghent, Belgium, to negotiate peace with Great Britain. On December 24, 1814, a
peace treaty acceptable to Madison and Monroe was signed at Ghent. It ended the
war but failed to resolve most of the issues that had started it, including the
blockading of ports, searching of ships, and impressment of sailors. In 1815
Monroe returned to the normal peacetime duties of the secretary of state.
At the end of
Madison's second term, Monroe was the logical presidential nominee for the
Democratic-Republicans. The Federalist Party had been ruined by its opposition
to the War of 1812 and could offer no effective opposition. Monroe received the
electoral votes of all but three states: Massachusetts, Connecticut, and
Delaware. These went to Rufus King of New York, the Federalist candidate. On
March 4, 1817, two old schoolmates met again as Chief Justice John Marshall
administered the oath of office to President James Monroe. Daniel D. Tompkins of
New York served as Monroe's vice president.
the United States
inaugural address provided a preview of much of the policy for which the fifth
president became renowned. The failures of Jefferson's and Madison's foreign
policy, as well as the futility of the War of 1812, had impressed Monroe. They
had made him think about other ways to safeguard American rights. He proposed
the establishment of an adequate army and navy. “Our land and naval forces,”
he said, “should be moderate, but adequate to do the necessary purposes” of
protection against invasion and “maintaining the neutrality of the United
States with dignity in the wars of other powers.”
Cabinet was a remarkable group, undoubtedly one of the strongest Cabinets in
U.S. history. The outstanding appointment was that of John Quincy Adams as
secretary of state. Adams, son of a Federalist president and a convert to the
Democratic-Republican Party, was unquestionably one of the greatest secretaries
of state in U.S. history. The eight-year association between Adams and Monroe
was marked by a growing mutual trust and respect that culminated in the Monroe
Doctrine. Other distinguished Cabinet members included John C. Calhoun of South
Carolina, secretary of war; William A. Crawford of Georgia, secretary of the
treasury; and William Wirt of Maryland, attorney general. Monroe also had access
throughout his presidency to the experienced counsel of his predecessors and
friends, Madison and Jefferson, although on several occasions he offended
Jefferson by not acting on his suggestions.
administration faced two major crises, one foreign and one domestic. In late
1817 members of the Seminole tribe in Spanish-held Florida began a series of
raids along the Georgia border in retaliation for incursions by U.S. troops
looking for escaped slaves. Monroe sent General Andrew Jackson to drive them
out. Jackson did so, but he also swept on into Florida, captured Pensacola and
Saint Marks, and executed two British subjects for inciting the raids. The
incident brought a threat of war with both Britain and Spain. Monroe entrusted
Adams with the delicate task of smoothing the ruffled feelings of Britain and of
negotiating with Spain not only for peace, but also for the long-hoped-for
purchase of Florida.
negotiations were a combination of toughness and daring. He backed Jackson's
invasion, persuaded Britain that its subjects had been in Florida illegally and
had not been entitled to British protection, and told Spain that if it could not
police Florida, it should cede it to the United States. On February 22, 1819,
after long negotiations, Spain gave in and the Transcontinental Treaty was
signed. Spain relinquished Florida in return for the assumption by the United
States of $5 million in debts owed by Spaniards to American citizens, and a
guarantee that the United States would renounce its claim to Texas. Of even
greater importance, Adams succeeded in extending the western boundary of the
Louisiana Purchase, which had been undetermined, all the way to the Pacific
coast. The boundary began at the mouth of the Sabine River, extended along the
Red and Arkansas rivers, ran north to the 42nd parallel (the present northern
boundary of California), then straight west to the Pacific.
negotiated settlement of long-standing disputes with Great Britain. In the
Convention of 1818, the United States obtained limited fishing rights in
Canadian waters, the northern boundary of the Louisiana Purchase was fixed to
run along the 49th parallel from the Lake of the Woods to the Rocky Mountains,
and the Oregon country, which Britain and the United States both claimed, was
placed under joint occupancy for ten years.
In the first
years of Monroe's administration, slavery was becoming a national issue. Many
Northern states had outlawed it, but in the South it was the mainstay of the
established social and economic order. When Monroe took office, the states were
equally divided between slave and free states. Although the North had a majority
in the House of Representatives, seats in the Senate were evenly divided. Thus,
the South at least had a veto power over any bill it considered injurious to its
In 1819 the
territories of Maine and Missouri both sought admission to the Union. Maine
petitioned for entrance as a free state, and Missouri as a slave state.
Northerners objected to the admission of Missouri on the grounds that it would
set a precedent for the formation of other slave states out of the Louisiana
Territory. Southerners would not agree to any restriction on slavery in
Missouri. This disagreement prompted one of the bitterest debates in
a Southerner and a slaveholder, feared most the divisive effect of this issue.
In a letter to Jefferson, Monroe wrote, “I have never known a question so
menacing to the tranquility and even the continuance of our Union as the present
one. All other subjects have given way to it. … ”
sympathies with the South, Monroe took no sides while Congress debated. His
great concern was to protect the Union, and he knew that the majority of states
would be on the side of the non-slaveholding states. Aware of the deeply felt
differences among the states, he nevertheless believed that “a compromise
would be found and agreed to, which would be satisfactory to all parties.”
March 3, 1820, the Missouri Compromise was sent to the president. It admitted
Maine as a free state and authorized Missouri to draft a constitution,
preparatory to being admitted as a slave state. It also stipulated that all
other new states carved from the Louisiana Territory north of 36°30¢ north
latitude (the southern boundary of Missouri) were to be free states. On March 6,
Monroe signed the bill into law.
people of his time, Monroe believed the solution to the slavery problem was the
colonization of freed slaves outside the boundaries of the United States. He
supported and enforced a law of 1819 that provided for the return to Africa of
blacks illegally seized and brought to the United States. Privately he supported
the work of the American Colonization Society, which had acquired land in
Africa, named it Liberia, and resettled freed slaves there. In recognition of
Monroe's work, the Liberian capital was named Monrovia, after him, in 1824.
tried to formulate a humane solution to the conflicts between whites and Native
Americans. He was greatly concerned with the fate of Native Americans in this
period of expansion, as the frontier moved westward. He urged “new efforts for
the preservation, improvement, and civilization of the native inhabitants.”
Despite strong opposition from the frontier territories, in 1825 he adopted the
policy of giving the native peoples land in the Great Plains, which they would
hold “as long as grass shall grow and rivers run.” The policy, while not a
perfect one by any means, at least relieved the pressure for many years.
Missouri Compromise, no important legislation was passed in the remaining year
of Monroe's first term. His administration had been one of high idealism and
integrity, and his personal popularity was at a high point. With the vexing
slavery question settled, at least temporarily, Monroe was virtually unopposed
for reelection. Even an economic downturn, the Panic of 1819, did not hurt him
politically. He carried every state in the Union and received every electoral
vote cast except one, which was cast by a New Hampshire elector for John Quincy
Second Term as
term as president was relatively uneventful. The only major accomplishment,
although a great one, was the formulation of the Monroe Doctrine. The doctrine
was established as a result of threats of Russian encroachment on the Pacific
Coast and of European intervention in the newly independent Latin American
In 1821 Czar
Alexander I of Russia decreed that all lands along the Pacific Ocean from the
Bering Strait to 51° north latitude belonged to Russia and that henceforth
foreign shipping would be prohibited within 160 km (100 mi) of the claimed
lands. The claim bit deep into the Oregon Territory, and, on Monroe's
instructions, Adams sent the Russian minister a note refusing to recognize the
contest the right of Russia to any territorial establishment on this
continent,” wrote Adams, adding that “we should assume distinctly the
principle that the American continents are no longer subjects for any new
European colonial establishments.” The czar's claim was untenable, and he
backed down. In April 1824, Russia signed a treaty agreeing to form no
settlements on the northwest coast south of 54°40¢ north latitude, with the
United States agreeing to make no settlements north of that line. The line
represented the approximate boundary between Alaska, which was the only part of
North America that Russia had colonized extensively, and the Oregon country, to
which the United States had a claim by virtue of exploration.
had implications that went far beyond an ultimatum to Russia alone. It had
stated that the United States would oppose any new European settlement, and this
idea became one of the two basic principles of the Monroe Doctrine.
A second threat
from Europe alarmed Monroe much more than the czar's edict. In 1823 the
so-called Holy Alliance of Russia, Austria, Prussia, and France had intervened
in Spain, which had become a constitutional monarchy, and forced the restoration
of the absolute monarchy under Ferdinand VII. Monroe believed that the
alliance's next move might well be an invasion and reconquest of Spain's former
Latin American colonies. The British shared this belief. In London, British
Foreign Secretary George Canning proposed to the U.S. envoy, Richard Rush, that
Great Britain and the United States issue a joint statement warning the alliance
to keep hands off the former colonies in Latin America.
transmitted the proposal to Washington, and Monroe was inclined to accept it.
However, Adams insisted that the time had come for the United States to act as a
sovereign nation, not merely a British satellite. He wanted America to proclaim
and carry out its own policy. Monroe was finally won over to this point of view.
Accordingly, in a polite note to Canning, Adams rejected the offer with the
excuse that, since Britain had not recognized the Latin American republics and
the United States had, no joint resolution relative to them was possible.
Canning affably agreed although as a matter of practical reality it would be the
British navy, not the American, that would enforce the unilateral statement.
to include his policy statement in his annual message to Congress, delivered on
December 2, 1823. The Monroe Doctrine included two paragraphs that stated
explicitly the basic tenets of his foreign policy. The first, based on the
diplomatic exchange with Russia, declared that the United States would oppose
any further colonization by European powers in the western hemisphere. The
second warned that the United States would “view any interposition” in the
affairs of western hemisphere nations “for the purpose of oppressing them, or
controlling … in any other manner their destiny … as the manifestation of an
unfriendly disposition toward the United States.”
It is true that
the doctrine's two principles, noncolonization and nonintervention, were not
really new or original. In general form they had been expressed or hinted at by
earlier presidents, especially Jefferson. They were also substantially
formulated by John Quincy Adams. However, it was Monroe who explicitly
proclaimed them as fundamental policy and who took final responsibility for that
policy. Therefore, the doctrine that was a keystone of U.S. foreign policy for
many years rightly bears his name.
Final Days in
As the election
of 1824 neared, Monroe had no thought of seeking a third term. He planned to
follow the precedent that Washington had set of serving two terms and then
retiring. Monroe wrote to Madison that year: “The approaching election, ‘tho
distant, is a circumstance that excites greatest interest in both houses, and
whose effect, already sensibly felt, is still much to be dreaded. … There
being three avowed candidates in the administration is a circumstance which
increases the embarrassment.” The three avowed candidates were Secretary of
State Adams, Secretary of the Treasury Crawford, and Secretary of War Calhoun.
last year in office the Cabinet, which had functioned harmoniously throughout
the administration, became infected with dissension and animosity. Monroe
remained scrupulously neutral as rivalry became more and more embittered. His
refusal to assume firm party leadership at this point and to use his influence
to name any candidate as his successor is often blamed for the collapse of the
Democratic-Republican Party into warring factions during the succeeding
administration of John Quincy Adams.
On the eve of
the election, Congress passed a protective tariff by a narrow margin. The tariff
raised the cost of importing manufactured goods and thereby benefited the
Northeast by protecting the market for the manufactures that region was
beginning to produce. Western states also supported the tariff because it
provided an internal market for their goods. The South bitterly opposed it,
however, because that region did not have its own manufacturing industry and now
had to pay more for the items it needed. This was a further indication that the
Era of Good Feelings was drawing to a close.
Monroe was 67 years old when he turned over the presidency to Adams and retired to Oak Hill in Loudoun County, Virginia. But his retirement years were clouded by financial worries. He was forced to sell his estate Ash Lawn to meet his debts. Although Congress awarded him $30,000 in 1826, he never recovered from the financial burden of his long years of public service. After his wife died, Monroe sold Oak Hill and moved to New York City to live with his younger daughter, Maria Hester Gouverneur, and her husband. He died on July 4, 1831, five years after Jefferson and John Adams had died and 55 years after the signing of the Declaration of Independence. He was buried in New York City, but in 1858 his body was moved to Richmond, Virginia, and reburied in Hollywood Cemetery