Tag Archives: Thomas Jefferson

James Monroe 4.28.13 Thought of the Day

“The best form of government is that which is most likely to prevent the greatest sum of evil.”–James Monroe

James Madison, Hamilton's major collaborator, ...

James Madison, Hamilton’s major collaborator, later President of the United States and “Father of the Constitution” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

James Monroe was born on this day in Westmoreland County, Virginia, USA in 1758. Today is the 258th anniversary of his birth.
Monroe’s was born to Spence and Elizabeth Monroe a moderately well to do couple of Scottish, Welsh and French Huguenot descent. His father was a planter and carpenter. Elizabeth tutored her children at home, and James didn’t start school until he was 11, when he went to “Campbelltown Academy between 1769 and 1774,” [Biography.com]

In 1774 his father died and Monroe inherited the family’s plantation and slaves.  His mother passed soon after. James and his brothers  be came ward of uncle.  the same  year he entered the College of William and Mary. William and Mary is in Williamsburg, Virginia, which was then the capital of the colony of the State. It was quiet an interesting time to be studying in the city. The Royal Governor  and his family had fled the city, the arsenal and Governor’s Palace had been looted and ‘revolution’ was in the air. Monroe was part of a group of men who raided the Governor’s Palace and liberated its cash of weapons. They used the weapons to form the Williamsburg Militia.

In Winter of 1776 he left school and volunteered with the Continental Army.  He was shot in the shoulder at the Battle of Trenton, New Jersey.  And he fought with distinction throughout the war.

He met Thomas Jefferson during the war, and Monroe studied law under the Virginia statesman when the Revolution drew to a close. After passing the bar he was quickly elected to the Virginia Assembly  (probably through Jefferson’s influence.)

Elected to the Continental Congress in 1783, Monroe worked for expanding the power of Congress, organizing government for the western country, and protecting American navigation on the Mississippi River. [Mille Center.org]

He was initially opposed to the ratification of the Constitution and fought to have senators and the President directly elected. He also fought for the inclusion of a Bill of Rights.

As a youthful politician, he joined the anti-Federalists in the Virginia Convention which ratified the Constitution, and in 1790, an advocate of Jeffersonian policies, was elected United States Senator. [Whitehouse.gov]

He lost the 1790 race for the US House of Representatives to James Madison, but “was quickly elected by the Virginia legislature as a United States senator.” [Biography.com] Jefferson, Madision and Monroe joined forces to oppose Federalist policies of Vice President John Adams and Secretary of Treasury Alexander Hamilton.

James Monroe, fifth President of the United States

James Monroe, fifth President of the United States (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Monroe served as Minister to France from 1794-1796 and he helped negotiate the Louisiana Purchase.

In 1816 he ran for  president with the blessing of his friend and  outgoing POTUS Madison. He won, becoming the 5th president of the United States. (4 of the first 5 US presidents were from Virginia, Monroe is the last of the “Virginia Dynasty”.)

His term started with a honeymoon dubbed the “Era of Good Feelings.” However, Economic depression and slavery disputes meant that the honeymoon didn’t last long.

The Monroe Doctorine is his legacy in foreign affairs. Foreign powers  must leave the American continents alone and “henceforth not to be considered as subjects for future colonization by any European Power.”[Whitehouse.gov]

During his presidence five states were admitted to the Union: Mississippi (1817), Illinois (1818), Alabama (1819), Main (1820), and Missouri (1821).

Monroe died on the Fourth of July, 1831.

James Monroe County (New York)

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Thomas Nelson, Jr. 12,26.12 Thought of the Day

An engraving of Thomas Nelson, Jr., a signer o...

Thomas Nelson, Jr was born on this day in Yorktown, Virginia in 1738. Today is the 274th anniversary of his birth.

Nelson was a planter, statesman, and soldier. He was a signer of the Declaration of Independence in 1776 and he was Virginia’s fourth Governor (he followed Thomas Jefferson in the post.)

English: Portrait of Governor Thomas Nelson at...

English: Portrait of Governor Thomas Nelson at age 15. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

His grandfather and namesake, Thomas “Scotch Tom” Nelson  was one of the first men to settle in the Yorktown area. And the family was prominent in local and regional politics. Young Thomas traveled to England for his formal education. He went to Eton and Trinity College, Cambridge.  In 1760 he graduated and returned to the family home.

Capitol Building from the North side. [ritaLOVEStoWRITE]

Capitol Building from the North side. [ritaLOVEStoWRITE]

One year later, 1761 he was elected to the House of Burgesses, Colonial Virginia’s legislative house in Williamsburg, Virginia. His time in the Capital wasn’t all business, in 1762 he met and married Lucy Grymes, niece of one of the richest and most powerful men in the Colony, Peyton Randolph. He and Lucy had 11 children in their 27 year marriage. (One son, Hugh Nelson, served in the US Congress.)

In 1774, after hearing about the Boston Tea Party, he [Thomas] performed an act against the British Tea Tax by boarding a merchant ship, Virginia, which was anchored near his home, and dumped several chests of tea into the York River. [Geni.com]

He was a member of the Continental Congress in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, from 1775 to 1777. A supporter of the independence cause, he was a signer of the Declaration of Independence.

English: This is a high-resolution image of th...

English: This is a high-resolution image of the United States Declaration of Independence (article (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In May of 1777 he suffered the first of a series of strokes and returned to Yorktown. He also suffered “periodic bouts of asthma”[Geni.com] but remained active in politics.

He also became a General in the Virginia Militia. He and his 3,000 Militiamen were part of George Washington’s Army during the siege of Yorktown. Cornwallis, the British commander had taken Nelson’s home for one of his head quarters. The

American artillerymen refused to fire on the house, in respect to General Nelson. Nelson then aimed … a cannon at his own home, and ordered the men to fire at his house…. [Ibid]

He offered a bounty of five guineas to the first American gunner to hit the house. The house, now a part of the Colonial National Historical Park system, still shows “evidence of damage from cannon fire.” [National Park Service]

Nelson House, York County, Virginia. [Image courtesy: National Park Service]

Nelson House, York County, Virginia. [Image courtesy: National Park Service]

In 1781 he succeeded Thomas Jefferson as Governor Virginia. He retired to his “son’s estate, ‘Mont Air,’ Hanover County, Va., and died there on January 4, 1789” [Congress.gov Biographical Dictionary of the United States Congress] He was buried in Yorktown, in Grace Churchyard.

 

 


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