e 1780s, delegate James Monroe was one of the leading proponents of the Northwest Ordinance passed in 1787. He also participated in the Virginia ratifying convention, and although he opposed Constitution for reasons similar to those of Patrick Henry and other fellow Virginians, he was elected senator from Virginia in 1790. Monroe subsequently served as minister to France under Presidents Washington and Jefferson and was instrumental in negotiating the Louisiana purchase with Napoleon’s government.
Monroe was appointed secretary of state by President James Madison in 1811, but because of his military background, he also served as secretary of war during the war of 1812. When the British marched on Washington in 1814, Secretary Monroe personally rode out to gauge the British advance and warned President Madison of the impending danger. His leadership in the War Department helped improve America’s military capability.
In 1816 James Monroe was elected president of the United States. Monroe’s own diplomatic experiences, combined with the skillful diplomacy of Monroe’s Secretary of State John Quincy Adams, led to important advances in American foreign relations during his two terms in the White House. The Rush-Bagot and Transcontinental treaties firmed up America’s borders and spread its domain to the Pacific Ocean. Despite many involving domestic issues that challenge to his leadership, President Monroe concentrated heavily on America’s security.
As mentioned in the previous section, the Federalist Party had hinted at secession from the Union and called the Hartford Convention to protest what it saw as unfair treatment of the New England states, who had vigorously opposed the War of 1812. The more or less successful conclusion of the conflict, however, had done the party in. Thus James Monroe became the first president to govern without organized opposition. Monroe was still part of the “Virginia dynasty,” however, and his policies did not go unscrutinized....
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