You Are At: AllSands Home > History > People > James Monroe:biography
James Monroe was born in Westmoreland County, Virginia on April 28, 1758. He became the fifth president of the United States in 1817. His Vice-President was Daniel D. Tompkins.

When James Monroe had became president the White House was still under construction from the burning in the War of 1812. Monroe had decided to take a tour of the country, to get to know more about the country he would govern. While on tour, the White house could be properly repaired.
The trip took fifteen weeks, and it gave Monroe the knowledge of the country to better help him serve well. He had more knowledge of the country than any other president that served before him, with the possible exception of George Washington.

Everywhere the president went he was greeted with cheers. Even in Federalist New England, who had detested James Madison, was quicker to accept Monroe because the region's economy had changed in the years during and after the War of 1812.

Congressman Henry Clay and John Calhoun championed a series of projects designed to improve and update the country's infrastructure, that is, its roads bridges an canals. The bills they introducted were part of a larger plan devised by Clay called the American System. Monroe agreed that Calhoun's public works project would benefit the Nation. But like Madison before him, he worried that these internal improvements, were not constitutional. A jeffersonian at heart, Monroe feared that construction of roads and canals went well beyond the powers granted to the government by the constitution.

The era of good feelings mades James Monroe one of the most popular presidents in the history of the United States. When the electoral college met in 1820, Monroe won all electoral votes but one. The single contrary vote was cast by New Hampshire's governor William Plumer. According to Plumer's son, the New Hampshire governor simply hated Monroe.
Between 1816 and 1821, six new states joined the union, making a total of twenty-four. Although they were generally welcomed, the admission of these new Western and southern states was also unsettling for many Americans. Because new regions of the country would of course have their own concerns, those of the original states would necessarily matter less.
Northern factory owners wanted increased tariff protection for their manufactured goods. They also wanted raw materials at a cheap price. Western farmers wanted exactly the opposite, they liked to see high prices for the raw materials they grew and low prices for the manufactured goods they bought. In the south, plantation owners were concerned about a reduction in slave labor, which they thought would hurt their ability to produce cotton at a competive price.

Now that the United States controlled so much of North America, John Quincy Adams suggested to President Monroe that he use this power to warn European nations against further colonization in the America's. On December 2, 1823, the president delivered a speech to congress outlining what soon became known as the Monroe Doctrine.

Neither an executive order nor a law, the Monroe Doctrine was a statement of policy that has guided U.S. actions ever since. For the first time, the United States recognized that it had important national interests outside its geographic borders.