Monroe, James 1758–1831

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James Monroe

James Monroe, born in 1758 in Westmoreland County, Virginia, had a distinguished political career. He served as minister to France (1794–1796), special diplomatic envoy in Europe (1803–1807), secretary of state (1811–1817), and president (1817–1825).

During his pre-presidential career, Monroe defended neutral trading rights. Monroe helped negotiate the 1803 Louisiana Purchase with France and the unsuccessful 1806 Monroe-Pinkney Treaty. As secretary of state he enforced Macon's Bill No. 2 and the nonimportation of British goods after 1811. He supported the republican system of trade restrictions and economic coercion to avoid war.

As president, Monroe upheld protective tariffs, American economic nationalism, and a European hands-off policy in the Western Hemisphere. He enforced the Tariff of 1816, which curtailed British dumping of cheap trade goods onto the American market. He implemented a new nonimportation policy in 1817. He declared a policy of nonintercourse against Great Britain in 1820, prompting the British to revise their unfavorable trade policies against the United States. His announcement of the Monroe Doctrine in December 1823 became his enduring legacy, ultimately laying the foundation for future American economic and diplomatic policy in the Western Hemisphere. He died in 1831.

SEE ALSO United States.


Ammon, Harry. James Monroe: The Quest for National Identity. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1971.

Owsley, Frank L., Jr., and Gene A. Smith. Filibusters and Expansionists: Jeffersonian Manifest Destiny, 1800–1821. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 1997.

Gene A. Smith

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Monroe, James 1758–1831

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Monroe, James 1758–1831