"I was summoned by my Country, whose voice I can never hear but with veneration and love…" – George Washington’s First Inaugural Address

April 30, 2013


Fellow-Citizens of the Senate and of the House of Representatives:

AMONG the vicissitudes incident to life no event could have filled me with greater anxieties than that of which the notification was transmitted by your order, and received on the 14th day of the present month. On the one hand, I was summoned by my country, whose voice I can never hear but with veneration and love, from a retreat which I had chosen with the fondest predilection, and, in my flattering hopes, with an immutable decision, as the asylum of my declining years—a retreat which was rendered every day more necessary as well as more dear to me by the addition of habit to inclination, and of frequent interruptions in my health to the gradual waste committed on it by time. On the other hand, the magnitude and difficulty of the trust to which the voice of my country called me, being sufficient to awaken in the wisest and most experienced of her citizens a distrustful scrutiny into his qualifications, could not but overwhelm with despondence one who (inheriting inferior endowments from nature and unpracticed in the duties of civil administration) ought to be peculiarly conscious of his own deficiencies. In this conflict of emotions all I dare aver is that it has been my faithful study to collect my duty from a just appreciation of every circumstance by which it might be affected. All I dare hope is that if, in executing this task, I have been too much swayed by a grateful remembrance of former instances, or by an affectionate sensibility to this transcendent proof of the confidence of my fellow-citizens, and have thence too little consulted my incapacity as well as disinclination for the weighty and untried cares before me, my error will be palliated by the motives which mislead me, and its consequences be judged by my country with some share of the partiality in which they originated.


Such being the impressions under which I have, in obedience to the public summons, repaired to the present station, it would be peculiarly improper to omit in this first official act my fervent supplications to that Almighty Being who rules over the universe, who presides in the councils of nations, and whose providential aids can supply every human defect, that His benediction may consecrate to the liberties and happiness of the people of the United States a Government instituted by themselves for these essential purposes, and may enable every instrument employed in its administration to execute with success the functions allotted to his charge. In tendering this homage to the Great Author of every public and private good, I assure myself that it expresses your sentiments not less than my own, nor those of my fellow-citizens at large less than either. No people can be bound to acknowledge and adore the Invisible Hand which conducts the affairs of men more than those of the United States. Every step by which they have advanced to the character of an independent nation seems to have been distinguished by some token of providential agency; and in the important revolution just accomplished in the system of their united government the tranquil deliberations and voluntary consent of so many distinct communities from which the event has resulted can not be compared with the means by which most governments have been established without some return of pious gratitude, along with an humble anticipation of the future blessings which the past seem to presage. These reflections, arising out of the present crisis, have forced themselves too strongly on my mind to be suppressed. You will join with me, I trust, in thinking that there are none under the influence of which the proceedings of a new and free government can more auspiciously commence.

By the article establishing the executive department it is made the duty of the President “to recommend to your consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient.” The circumstances under which I now meet you will acquit me from entering into that subject further than to refer to the great constitutional charter under which you are assembled, and which, in defining your powers, designates the objects to which your attention is to be given. It will be more consistent with those circumstances, and far more congenial with the feelings which actuate me, to substitute, in place of a recommendation of particular measures, the tribute that is due to the talents, the rectitude, and the patriotism which adorn the characters selected to devise and adopt them. In these honorable qualifications I behold the surest pledges that as on one side no local prejudices or attachments, no separate views nor party animosities, will misdirect the comprehensive and equal eye which ought to watch over this great assemblage of communities and interests, so, on another, that the foundation of our national policy will be laid in the pure and immutable principles of private morality, and the preeminence of free government be exemplified by all the attributes which can win the affections of its citizens and command the respect of the world. I dwell on this prospect with every satisfaction which an ardent love for my country can inspire, since there is no truth more thoroughly established than that there exists in the economy and course of nature an indissoluble union between virtue and happiness; between duty and advantage; between the genuine maxims of an honest and magnanimous policy and the solid rewards of public prosperity and felicity; since we ought to be no less persuaded that the propitious smiles of Heaven can never be expected on a nation that disregards the eternal rules of order and right which Heaven itself has ordained; and since the preservation of the sacred fire of liberty and the destiny of the republican model of government are justly considered, perhaps, as deeply, as finally, staked on the experiment entrusted to the hands of the American people.


Besides the ordinary objects submitted to your care, it will remain with your judgment to decide how far an exercise of the occasional power delegated by the fifth article of the Constitution is rendered expedient at the present juncture by the nature of objections which have been urged against the system, or by the degree of inquietude which has given birth to them. Instead of undertaking particular recommendations on this subject, in which I could be guided by no lights derived from official opportunities, I shall again give way to my entire confidence in your discernment and pursuit of the public good; for I assure myself that whilst you carefully avoid every alteration which might endanger the benefits of an united and effective government, or which ought to await the future lessons of experience, a reverence for the characteristic rights of freemen and a regard for the public harmony will sufficiently influence your deliberations on the question how far the former can be impregnably fortified or the latter be safely and advantageously promoted.


To the foregoing observations I have one to add, which will be most properly addressed to the House of Representatives. It concerns myself, and will therefore be as brief as possible. When I was first honored with a call into the service of my country, then on the eve of an arduous struggle for its liberties, the light in which I contemplated my duty required that I should renounce every pecuniary compensation. From this resolution I have in no instance departed; and being still under the impressions which produced it, I must decline as inapplicable to myself any share in the personal emoluments which may be indispensably included in a permanent provision for the executive department, and must accordingly pray that the pecuniary estimates for the station in which I am placed may during my continuance in it be limited to such actual expenditures as the public good may be thought to require.


Having thus imparted to you my sentiments as they have been awakened by the occasion which brings us together, I shall take my present leave; but not without resorting once more to the benign Parent of the Human Race in humble supplication that, since He has been pleased to favor the American people with opportunities for deliberating in perfect tranquillity, and dispositions for deciding with unparalleled unanimity on a form of government for the security of their union and the advancement of their happiness, so His divine blessing may be equally conspicuous in the enlarged views, the temperate consultations, and the wise measures on which the success of this Government must depend.


“The Writings of George Washington from the Original Manuscript Sources, 1745—1799,” edited by John C. Fitzpatrick, 39 vols. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office (1931-44) Vol. 30, pp. 291-296

Oliver Ellsworth: statesman, naturalist, and Chief Justice

April 29, 2013

Jurist, statesman, and naturalist, Oliver Ellsworth was born in Windsor, Connecticut, on April 29, 1745, to parents determined to make him a minister. After studying under the Reverend Dr. Joseph Bellamy (1719/19-1790), he entered Yale College in 1762. Youthful pranks, however, proved his undoing and in 1764 he was dismissed. Entering Princeton, where no notable misbehavior marred his record, he graduated in 1766.


Law proving more attractive than the ministry, he studied first under Matthew Griswold (1714-1799), and then under Jesse Root (1736-1822). Admitted to the Connecticut bar in 1771, he opened a law office in Windsor. Election in 1773 as a deputy and in 1774 as a justice of the peace gave him entrée to political positions. Too poor to own a horse, he was forced to walk the twenty-mile round trip when the General Assembly and courts met. Hoping to enhance his status as a lawyer and public servant, he moved to Hartford.

In 1772, Ellsworth married Abigail Wolcott, the daughter of Abigail Abbot and William Wolcott, nephew of Connecticut colonial governor Roger Wolcott, and granddaughter of Abiah Hawley and William Wolcott of East Windsor, Connecticut. They had nine children including the twins William Wolcott Ellsworth, who married Noah Webster’s daughter, served in Congress and became the governor of Connecticut ; and Henry Leavitt Ellsworth, who became the first Commissioner of the United States Patent Office, the mayor of Hartford, president of Aetna Life Insurance and a large benefactor of Yale College.


Oliver and Abigail Ellsworth by Ralph Earl

The outbreak of the Revolution brought enlarged opportunities for public service, both in state and national capacities: on the committee of the pay table, 1775-1777; state’s attorney for Hartford County, 1777-1785; delegate to Congress, 1778-1783; deputy from Hartford, 1779; on the Council of Safety, 1779; assistant, 1780-1785; superior court judge, 1785-1789; delegate to the Federal Constitutional Convention, 1787 and the ratifying convention, 1788; United States senator, 1788-1796; chief justice of the United States Supreme Court, 1796-1799; and commissioner to France, 1799-1800.

On May 28, 1787, Ellsworth joined the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia as a delegate from Connecticut along with Roger Sherman and William Samuel Johnson. More than half of the 55 delegates were lawyers, eight of whom, including both Ellsworth and Sherman, had previous experience as judges conversant with legal discourse. Ellsworth in particular played an important role in having participated in the exclusion of judicial review from the Constitution at the Convention.

Ellsworth took an active part in the proceedings beginning on June 20, when he proposed the use of the name the United States to identify the nation under the authority of the Constitution. The words “United States” had already been used in the Declaration of Independence and Articles of Confederation as well as Thomas Paine’s The American Crisis. It was Ellsworth’s proposal to retain the earlier wording to sustain the emphasis on a federation rather than a single national entity. Three weeks earlier, on May 30, 1787, Edmund Randolph of Virginia had moved to create a “national government” consisting of a supreme legislative, an executive and a judiciary. Ellsworth accepted Randolph’s notion of a threefold division, but moved to strike the phrase “national government.” From this day forward the “United States” was the official title used in the Convention to designate the government, and this usage has remained in effect ever since. The complete name, “the United States of America,” had already been featured by Paine, and its inclusion in the Constitution was the work of Gouverneur Morris when he made the final editorial changes in the Constitution.

Ellsworth played a major role in the passage of the Connecticut Plan. During debate on the Great Compromise, often described as the Connecticut Compromise, he joined his fellow Connecticut delegate Roger Sherman in proposing the bicameral arrangement in which members of the Senate would be elected by state legislatures as indicated in Article I, Section 3 of the Constitution. Ellsworth’s version of the compromise was adopted by the Convention, but it was later revised by Amendment XVII substituting a popular vote similar to that used for the House of Representatives.

To gain the passage of the Connecticut Plan its proponents needed support of three southern states, Georgia and the two Carolinas, complementing the small state coalition of the North. It came as no surprise that Ellsworth favored the Three-Fifths Compromise on the enumeration of slaves and opposed the abolition of the foreign slave trade. Stressing that he had no slaves, Ellsworth spoke twice before the Convention, on August 21 and 22, in favor of slavery being abolished.

Along with James Wilson, John Rutledge, Edmund Randolph, and Nathaniel Gorham, Ellsworth served on the Committee of Detail which prepared the first draft of the Constitution based on resolutions already passed by the Convention. All Convention deliberations were interrupted from July 26 to August 6, 1787, while the Committee of Detail completed its task. The two preliminary drafts that survive as well as the text of the Constitution submitted to the Convention were in the handwriting of Wilson or Randolph. However, Ellsworth’s role is made clear by his 53 contributions to the Convention as a whole from August 6 to 23, when he left for business reasons. As James Madison tabulated in his Records, only Madison and Gouverneur Morris spoke more than Ellsworth during those sixteen days.

Though Ellsworth left the Convention near the end of August and didn’t sign the final document, he wrote the Letters of a Landholder to promote its ratification. He also played a dominant role in Connecticut’s 1788 ratification convention, when he emphasized that judicial review guaranteed federal sovereignty. It seems more than a coincidence that both he and Wilson served as members of the Committee of Detail without mentioning judicial review in the initial draft of the Constitution, but then stressed its central importance at their ratifying conventions just a year preceding its inclusion by Ellsworth in the Judiciary Act of 1789.

Along with William Samuel Johnson, Ellsworth served as one of Connecticut’s first two United States senators in the new federal government, and his service extended from 1789 to 1796. During this period he played a dominant role in Senate proceedings equivalent to that of a Senate Majority Leaders in later decades. According to John Adams, he was “the firmest pillar of [Washington’s] whole administration in the Senate.” Aaron Burr complained that if Ellsworth had misspelled the name of the Deity with two d’s, “it would have taken the Senate three weeks to expunge the superfluous letter.” Senator William Maclay, a Republican Senator from Pennsylvania, offered a more hostile assessment: “He will absolutely say anything, nor can I believe he has a particle of principle in his composition,” and “I can in truth pronounce him one of the most uncandid men I ever knew possessing such abilities.” What seems to have bothered McClay the most was Ellsworth’s emphasis on private negotiations and tacit agreement rather than public debate. Significantly, there was no official record of Senate proceedings for the first five years of its existence, nor was there any provision to accommodate spectators. The arrangement was essentially the same as for the 1787 Convention, in contrast to the open sessions of the House of Representatives.


An engraving depicting Ellsworth

Ellsworth’s first project was the Judiciary Act, described as Senate Bill No. 1, which effectively supplemented Article III in the Constitution by establishing a hierarchical arrangement among state and federal courts. Years later Madison stated, “It may be taken for certain that the bill organizing the judicial department originated in his [Ellsworth’s] draft, and that it was not materially changed in its passage into law.” Ellsworth himself probably wrote Section 25, the most important component of the Judiciary Act. This gave the Federal Supreme Court the power to veto state supreme court decisions supportive of state laws in conflict with the U.S. Constitution. All state and local laws accepted by state supreme courts could be appealed to the federal Supreme Court, which was given the authority, if it chose, to deny them for being unconstitutional. State and local laws rejected by state supreme courts could not be appealed in this manner; only the laws accepted by these courts could be appealed. This seemingly modest specification provided the federal government with its only effective authority over state government at the time. In effect, judicial review supplanted Congressional Review, which Madison had unsuccessfully proposed four times at the Convention to guarantee federal sovereignty. Granting the federal government this much authority was apparently rejected because its potential misuse could later be used to reject the Constitution at State Ratifying Conventions. Upon the completion of these conventions the previous year, Ellsworth was in the position to render the sovereignty of the federal government defensible, but through judicial review instead of congressional review.

Once the Judiciary Act was adopted by the Senate, Ellsworth sponsored the Senate’s acceptance of the Bill of Rights promoted by Madison in the House of Representatives. Significantly, Madison sponsored the Judiciary Act in the House at the same time. Combined, the Judiciary Act and Bill of Rights gave the Constitution the “teeth” that had been missing in the Articles of Confederation. Judicial Review guaranteed the federal government’s sovereignty, whereas the Bill of Rights guaranteed the protection of states and citizens from the misuse of this sovereignty by the federal government. The Judiciary Act and Bill of Rights thus counterbalanced each other, each guaranteeing respite from the excesses of the other. However, with the passage of the Fourteenth Amendment in 1865, seventy-five years later, the Bill of Rights could be brought to bear at all levels of government as interpreted by the judiciary with final appeal to the Supreme Court. Needless to say, this had not been the original intention of either Madison or Ellsworth.

Ellsworth was the principal exponent in the Senate of Hamilton’s economic program, having served on at least four committees dealing with budgetary issues. `These issues included the passage of Hamilton’s plan for funding the national debt, the incorporation of the First Bank of the United States, and the bargain whereby state debts were assumed in return for locating the capital to the south (today the District of Columbia). Ellsworth’s other achievements included framing the measure that admitted North Carolina to the Union, devising the non-intercourse act that forced Rhode Island to join the union, and drawing up the bill to regulate the consular service. He also played a major role in convincing President Washington to send John Jay to England to negotiate the 1794 Jay Treaty that prevented warfare with England, settled debts between the two nations, and gave American settlers better access to the midwest.

On March 3, 1796, Ellsworth was nominated by President George Washington to be Chief Justice of the United States, the seat having been vacated by John Jay. (Jay’s replacement, John Rutledge, had been rejected by the Senate the previous December, and Washington’s next nominee, William Cushing, had declined the office in February.) The following day, Ellsworth was unanimously confirmed by the United States Senate, and received his commission.

Ellsworth served until his resignation due to poor health on September 30, 1800, and his brief contribution was deservedly overshadowed by the accomplishments of his successor, John Marshall, who succeeded him in 1801. However, four cases the Ellsworth Court decided were of lasting importance in American jurisprudence. Hylton v. United States (1796) implicitly addressed the Supreme Court’s power of judicial review in upholding a federal carriage tax (although it would not be until John Marshall succeeded Ellsworth that the court addressed this issue head on); Hollingsworth v. Virginia (1798) affirmed that the President had no official role in amending the Constitution of the United States, and that a Presidential signature was therefore unnecessary for ratification of an amendment; Calder v. Bull (1798) held that the Constitution’s Ex post facto clause applied only to criminal, not civil, cases; and New York v. Connecticut was the first exercise by the court of its original jurisdiction in cases between two states.

Ellsworth’s chief legacy as Chief Justice, however, is his discouragement of the previous practice of seriatim opinion writing, in which each Justice wrote a separate opinion in the case and delivered that opinion from the bench. Ellsworth instead encouraged the consensus of the Court to be represented in a single written opinion, a practice which continues to the present day

Ellsworth was a candidate in the 1796 United States presidential election, receiving eleven votes in the electoral college, sharing with John Adams the distinction of gaining most votes in both New Hampshire and Rhode Island.

As United States Envoy Extraordinary to the Court of France, Ellsworth led a delegation there between 1799 and 1800 in order to settle differences with Napoleon’s government regarding restrictions on U.S. shipping that might otherwise have led to military conflict between the two nations. The agreement accepted by Ellsworth provoked indignation among Americans for being too generous to Napoleon. Moreover, Ellsworth came down with a severe illness resulting from his travel across the Atlantic (causing him to tender his resignation from the Supreme Court while still in Europe in 1800), and the Federalist party had fallen into disarray and was easily defeated by Republicans led by Jefferson. As a result, Ellsworth retired from national public life upon his return to America in early 1801. He was nevertheless able to serve again on the Connecticut Governor’s Council until he died in Windsor on November 26, 1807.


Although many erroneously believe that he is buried on the grounds of the Ellsworth Homestead in Windsor, Connecticut, his remains are in the Palisado Cemetery behind the First Congregational Church of Windsor overlooking the Farmington River.

Source: http://www.connecticutsar.org/patriots/ellsworth_oliver.htm

James Monroe, The Last Founder

April 28, 2013

James Monroe was the fifth President of the United States (1817–1825). Monroe was the last president who was a Founding Father of the United States, and the last president from the Virginia dynasty and the Republican Generation.[1] His presidency was marked both by an “Era of Good Feelings” – a period of relatively little partisan strife – and later by the Panic of 1819 and a fierce national debate over the admission of the Missouri Territory. Monroe is most noted for his proclamation of the Monroe Doctrine in 1823, which stated that the United States would not tolerate further European intervention in the Americas.

Born April 28, 1758, in Westmoreland County, Virginia, Monroe fought in the American Revolutionary War. He was injured in the Battle of Trenton with a musket ball to his shoulder. After studying law under Thomas Jefferson from 1780 to 1783, he served as a delegate in the Continental Congress. As an anti-federalist delegate to the Virginia convention that considered ratification of the United States Constitution, Monroe opposed ratification, claiming it gave too much power to the central government. Nonetheless, Monroe took an active part in the new government and in 1790 he was elected to the Senate of the first United States Congress, where he joined the Jeffersonians. He gained experience as an executive as the Governor of Virginia and rose to national prominence when as a diplomat in France he helped negotiate the Louisiana Purchase in 1803. Monroe was of French and Scottish descent.

During the War of 1812, Monroe held the critical roles of Secretary of State and the Secretary of War under President James Madison.[2] Facing little opposition from the fractured Federalist Party, Monroe was easily elected president in 1816, winning over 80 percent of the electoral vote and becoming the last president during the First Party System era of American politics. As president, he sought to ease partisan tensions and embarked on a tour of the country and was well received everywhere. As nationalism surged, partisan fury subsided and the “Era of Good Feelings” ensued until the Panic of 1819 struck and dispute over the admission of Missouri embroiled the country in 1820. Nonetheless, Monroe won near-unanimous reelection. In 1823, he announced the Monroe Doctrine, which became a landmark in American foreign policy. His presidency concluded the first period of American presidential history before the beginning of Jacksonian democracy and the Second Party System era. Following his retirement in 1825, Monroe was plagued by financial difficulties. He died in New York City on July 4, 1831.


5th President of the United States

James Monroe was born on April 28, 1758, in a wooded area of Westmoreland County, Virginia. The site is marked and is one mile from what is known today as Monroe Hall, Virginia.

Monroe’s father, Spence Monroe (1727–1774) was a moderately prosperous planter who also learned the carpentry trade. His mother, Elizabeth Jones Monroe (1730–1774), married Spence Monroe in 1752. His paternal great-grandfather emigrated to America from Scotland in the mid-17th century. In 1650 Andrew Monroe patented a large tract of land in Washington Parish, Westmoreland County, Virginia.[3]


Marker designating the site of James Monroe’s birthplace in Monroe Hall, Virginia

Monroe studied at Campbelltown Academy, a school run by the Reverend Archibald Campbell of Washington Parish, between the ages of 11 and 16. There he excelled as a prodigious pupil and progressed through Latin and mathematics at a rate faster than that of most boys his age. John Marshall, later Chief Justice of the United States, was among his classmates.

At the age of 16, Monroe inherited his father’s fortune. He also began forming a close relationship with his uncle, the influential Judge Joseph Jones, who had been educated at the Inns of Court in London and was the executor of his father’s estate. That same year, Monroe enrolled in the College of William and Mary. However in 1774, the atmosphere on the Williamsburg campus was not conducive to study, and the prospect of rebellion against King George charged most of the students, including Monroe, with patriotic fervor. The following spring, Monroe dropped out of college and joined the 3rd Virginia Regiment in the Continental Army.[4] In June 1775, after the battles of Lexington and Concord, Monroe joined 24 older men in raiding the arsenal at the Governor’s Palace. The 200 muskets and 300 swords they appropriated helped arm the Williamsburg militia. The following spring, Monroe dropped out of college and joined the Continental army. He never returned to earn a degree.

Between 1780 and 1783, he studied law under Thomas Jefferson.[5][6] Monroe was not particularly interested in legal theory or practice, but chose to take it up because he felt that it offered “the most immediate rewards” and that it would place him on a path to wealth, social standing, and political influence.[6]

Although Andrew Jackson served as a courier in a militia unit at age thirteen, Monroe is regarded as the last U.S. President who was a Revolutionary War hero, since he served as an officer of the Continental Army and personally took part in combat.[7] He served with distinction at the Battle of Trenton, where he was shot in his left shoulder. He spent three months recuperating from his wound. In John Trumbull’s painting Capture of the Hessians at the Battle of Trenton, Monroe can be seen lying wounded at left center of painting. In an even more famous painting, Washington Crossing the Delaware, Monroe is depicted holding the flag. Following his war service, he practiced law in Fredericksburg, Virginia.[8][9]


Elizabeth Kortright Monroe

James Monroe married Elizabeth Kortright (1768–1830), daughter of Laurence Kortright and Hannah Aspinwall Kortright, on February 16, 1786, in New York City. After a brief honeymoon on Long Island, the Monroes returned to New York to live with her father until Congress adjourned. The Monroes had the following children:

  • Eliza Monroe Hay (1786–1835) – married George Hay in 1808 and substituted as official White House host for her ailing mother.
  • James Spence Monroe (1799–1801) – his name is merely a speculation, as his grave reads “J.S. Monroe”, and not this name.
  • Maria Hester Monroe Gouverneur (1803–1850) – married her cousin Samuel L. Gouverneur on March 8, 1820, in the first wedding of a president’s child in the White House.[10][11]

Monroe fulfilled his youthful dream of becoming the owner of a large plantation and wielding great political power, but his efforts in agriculture were never profitable. He sold his small inherited Virginia plantation in 1783 to enter law and politics, and though he owned land and slaves and speculated in property he was rarely on-site to oversee the operation. Therefore the slaves were treated harshly to make them more productive and the plantations barely supported themselves if at all. His lavish lifestyle often necessitated selling property to pay debts.[12]

Monroe was elected to the Virginia House of Delegates in 1782. After serving for the Continental legislature he was elected to the Fourth Continental Congress in November 1783. He was also elected to and served in the Fifth and Sixth Congresses, serving for a total of three years where he finally retired from that office by the rule of rotation.[13]

In Virginia the struggle in 1788 over the ratification of the proposed new Constitution involved far more than a simple clash between federalists and anti-federalists. Virginians held a full spectrum of opinions about the merits of the proposed change in national government. George Washington and James Madison were leading supporters; Patrick Henry and George Mason were leading opponents. The central actors in the ratification fight were those who held the middle ground in the ideological struggle. Led by Monroe and Edmund Pendleton, these “federalists who are for amendments,” criticized the absence of a bill of rights and worried about surrendering taxation powers to the central government. Virginia ratified the Constitution in June 1788, largely because these men suspended their reservations and vowed to press for changes after the new government had been established.[14]

Virginia narrowly ratified the Constitution and Monroe ran for a House seat in the 1st Congress but was defeated by Madison. In 1790 he was elected United States Senator. He soon joined the “Democratic-Republican” faction led by Jefferson and Madison and by 1791 was the party leader in the Senate.[15]

Monroe resigned his Senate seat after being appointed Minister to France in 1794.[16] As ambassador, Monroe secured the release of Thomas Paine when he was arrested for his opposition to the execution of Louis XVI on the condition that he be sent to America.[17]

He managed to free all the Americans held in French prisons, including Madame Lafayette. He issued American passports for the Lafayette family, (since they had been granted citizenship), before she traveled to Lafayette’s place of imprisonment, in Olmutz.[18]

A strong friend of the French Revolution, Monroe tried to assure France that Washington’s policy of strict neutrality did not favor Britain. But American policy had come to favor Britain, and Monroe was stunned by the signing of the Jay Treaty in London. With France and Britain at war, the Jay Treaty alarmed and angered the French. Washington discharged Monroe from his office as Minister to France due to inefficiency, disruptive maneuvers, and failure to safeguard the interests of his country.[19]

Monroe had long been concerned about untoward foreign influence on the presidency. He was alarmed at Spanish diplomat Don Diego de Gardoqui who in 1785 tried to convince Congress to allow Spain to close the Mississippi River to American traffic for 30 years. Here Monroe saw Spain over-influencing the republic, which could have risked the loss of the Southwest or dominance of the Northeast.[20] Monroe placed faith in a strong presidency and the system of checks and balances. In the 1790s he fretted over an aging George Washington being too heavily influenced by close advisers like Alexander Hamilton who was too close to Britain. Monroe favored France and so opposed the Jay Treaty in 1795. He was humiliated when Washington criticized him for his support of revolutionary France while he was minister to France.[21] He saw foreign and Federalist elements in the genesis of the Quasi War of 1798–1800 and in efforts to keep Thomas Jefferson away from the presidency in 1801. As governor he considered using the Virginia militia to force the outcome in favor of Jefferson.[22] Federalists responded in kind, some seeing Monroe as at best a French dupe and at worst a traitor.[23]


Out of office, Monroe returned to practicing law in Virginia until elected governor there as a Republican, his first term serving from 1799 to 1802. He was reelected Virginia’s governor four times.[24] He called out the state militia to suppress Gabriel’s Rebellion. Gabriel and 26 other enslaved people who participated were all hanged for treason.

President Jefferson sent Monroe to France to assist Robert R. Livingston to negotiate the Louisiana Purchase. Monroe was then appointed Minister to the Court of St. James (Britain) from 1803 to 1807. In 1806 he negotiated a treaty with Britain, known as the Monroe–Pinkney Treaty. It would extend the Jay Treaty of 1794 which had expired after ten years; Jefferson had fought the Jay Treaty intensely in 1794–95 because he felt it would allow the British to subvert American republicanism. The treaty had produced ten years of peace and highly lucrative trade for American merchants, but Jefferson was still hostile. When Monroe and the British signed a renewal in December 1806, Jefferson decided to reject it, and not submit it to the Senate. Although the new treaty called for ten more years of trade between the U.S. and the British Empire, and gave American merchants certain guarantees that would have been good for business, Jefferson refused to give up the potential weapon of commercial warfare against Britain and was unhappy that it did not end the hated British practice of impressment of American sailors. Jefferson did not attempt to obtain another treaty, and as a result, the two nations moved from peace toward the War of 1812.[25]

The Republican Party was increasingly factionalized with “Old Republicans” or “Quids” denouncing the Administration for abandoning true republican principles. The Quids, seeing that Monroe’s foreign policy had been rejected by Jefferson, tried to enlist Monroe in their cause. The plan was to run Monroe for president in the 1808 election in cooperation with the Federalist Party, which had a strong base in New England. John Randolph of Roanoke led the Quid effort to stop Jefferson’s choice of James Madison. However, the regular Republicans overcame the Quids, kept control of the party in Virginia, and protected Madison’s base. Monroe did not run and Madison was elected president.[26]

Monroe returned to the Virginia House of Delegates and was elected to another term as governor in 1811, but only served four months. He became Secretary of State in April of that year. He had little to do with the War of 1812, as President Madison and the War Hawks in Congress were dominant. The war went very badly, and when the British burned the capitol building on August 24, 1814, Madison removed John Armstrong as Secretary of War and turned to Monroe for help, appointing him Secretary of War on September 27.[27] Monroe resigned as Secretary of State on October 1, but no successor was ever appointed, so he continued doing the work. Thus from October 1, 1814, to February 28, 1815, Monroe effectively held both cabinet posts. Monroe formulated plans for an offensive invasion of Canada to win the war, but a peace treaty was ratified in February 1815, before any armies moved north. Monroe therefore resigned as Secretary of War on March 15, 1815 and was formally reappointed Secretary of State. Monroe stayed on at State until March 4, 1817, when he began his term as the new President of the United States.[2]


The congressional nominating caucus experienced little opposition during the administrations of Jefferson and Madison, but this situation changed in the election year of 1816. An indeterminate number of anti-Virginia Republicans, led by the New York delegation, objected to the caucus system along with the Federalists. Disorganization and failure to agree on William H. Crawford, Daniel Tompkins, Henry Clay or another possible contender weakened opposition to Monroe. The boycott by Virginia delegates of the March 12 caucus removed the chances of Monroe’s opponents, and he received the caucus nomination four days later.[28] With the Federalist Party in disarray due to the unpopularity of their opposition to the War of 1812, he was easily elected.[29] The Federalists did not even name a candidate, though Rufus King of New York did run in opposition to Monroe under the Federalist banner.[29] King carried only Connecticut, Delaware, and Massachusetts and won only 34 of 217 electoral votes cast.[29]

The collapse of the Federalists left Monroe with no organized opposition at the end of his first term, and he ran for reelection unopposed,[29] the only president other than Washington to do so. A single elector from New Hampshire cast a vote for John Quincy Adams, preventing a unanimous vote in the electoral college.[29]


Monroe as he appears in the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C.

Monroe largely ignored old party lines in making appointments to lower posts, which reduced political tensions and enabled the “Era of Good Feelings”, which lasted through his administration. He made two long national tours in 1817 to build national trust. Frequent stops on these tours allowed innumerable ceremonies of welcome and expressions of good will. The Federalist Party continued to fade away during his administration; it maintained its vitality and organizational integrity in Delaware and a few localities, but was no longer a national factor. Lacking serious opposition, the Republican party’s Congressional caucus stopped meeting, and for practical purposes the Republican Party stopped operating.[30]

Monroe’s popularity was undiminished even when following difficult nationalist policies as the country’s commitment to nationalism was starting to show serious fractures. The Panic of 1819 caused a painful economic depression. The application for statehood in 1819 by the Missouri Territory as a slave state failed. An amended bill for gradually eliminating slavery in Missouri precipitated two years of bitter debate in Congress. The Missouri Compromise bill resolved the struggle, pairing Missouri as a slave state with Maine, a free state, and barring slavery north of latitude 36/30′ N forever. The Missouri Compromise lasted until 1857, when it was declared unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court as part of the Dred Scott decision.

Congress demanded high subsidies for internal improvements, such as for the improvement of the Cumberland Road, during Monroe’s presidency.[31] Monroe vetoed the Cumberland Road Bill, which provided for yearly improvements to the road, because he believed it to be unconstitutional for the government to have such a large hand in what was essentially a civics bill deserving of attention on a state by state basis. This defiance underlined Monroe’s populist ideals and added credit to the local offices that he was so fond of visiting on his speech tours.[32]

Monroe sparked a constitutional controversy when, in 1817, he sent General Andrew Jackson to move against Spanish Florida to pursue hostile Seminole Indians and punish the Spanish for aiding them. News of Jackson’s exploits ignited a congressional investigation of the 1st Seminole War. Dominated by Democratic-Republicans, the 15th Congress was generally expansionist and more likely to support the popular Jackson. Ulterior political agendas of many congressmen dismantled partisan and sectional coalitions, so that Jackson’s opponents argued weakly and became easily discredited. After much debate, the House of Representatives voted down all resolutions that condemned Jackson in any way, thus implicitly endorsing Monroe’s actions and leaving the issue surrounding the role of the executive with respect to war powers unanswered.[33]

Monroe believed that the Indians must progress from the hunting stage to become an agricultural people, noting in 1817, “A hunter or savage state requires a greater extent of territory to sustain it than is compatible with progress and just claims of civilised life.”[34] His proposals to speed up the assimilation process were ignored by Congress.[35]

Relations with Spain over the purchase of Spanish Florida proved to be troublesome, especially after General Andrew Jackson invaded that territory on what he believed to be the president’s authorization, which Monroe later denied giving. But largely through the skillful work of John Quincy Adams, a treaty was signed with Spain in 1819 that ceded Florida to the United States in return for the assumption of $5,000,000 in claims and the relinquishment of any claims to Texas.[36] Florida was ceded to the U.S. in 1821.


After the Napoleonic wars (which ended in 1815), almost all of Spain’s and Portugal’s colonies in Latin America revolted and declared independence. Americans welcomed this development as a validation of the spirit of Republicanism. Secretary of State John Quincy Adams suggested delaying formal recognition until Florida was secured. The problem of imperial invasion was intensified by a Russian claim to the Pacific coast down to the fifty-first parallel and simultaneous European pressure to have all of Latin America returned to its colonial status.

Monroe informed Congress in March 1822 that permanent stable governments had been established in the United Provinces of La Plata (present-day Argentina), Chile, Peru, Colombia and Mexico. Adams, under Monroe’s supervision, wrote the instructions for the ministers (ambassadors) to these new countries. They declared that the policy of the United States was to uphold republican institutions and to seek treaties of commerce on a most-favored-nation basis. The United States would support inter-American congresses dedicated to the development of economic and political institutions fundamentally differing from those prevailing in Europe. The articulation of an “American system” distinct from that of Europe was a basic tenet of Monroe’s policy toward Latin America. Monroe took pride as the United States was the first nation to extend recognition and to set an example to the rest of the world for its support of the “cause of liberty and humanity.”

Monroe formally announced in his message to Congress on December 2, 1823, what was later called the Monroe Doctrine. He proclaimed that the Americas should be free from future European colonization and free from European interference in sovereign countries’ affairs. It further stated the United States’ intention to stay neutral in European wars and wars between European powers and their colonies, but to consider new colonies or interference with independent countries in the Americas as hostile acts toward the United States.

Although it is Monroe’s most famous contribution to history, the speech was written by Adams, who designed the doctrine in cooperation with Britain.[37] Monroe and Adams realized that American recognition would not protect the new countries against military intervention to restore Spain’s power. In October 1823, Richard Rush, the American minister in London, advised that Foreign Secretary George Canning was proposing that the U.S. and Britain jointly declare their opposition to European intervention. Britain, with its powerful navy, also opposed re-conquest of Latin America and suggested that the United States join in proclaiming a “hands off” policy. Galvanized by the British initiative, Monroe consulted with American leaders and then formulated a plan with Adams. Ex-Presidents Jefferson and Madison counseled Monroe to accept the offer, but Adams advised, “It would be more candid … to avow our principles explicitly to Russia and France, than to come in as a cock-boat in the wake of the British man-of-war.” Monroe accepted Adams’ advice. Not only must Latin America be left alone, he warned, but also Russia must not encroach southward on the Pacific coast. “…the American continents,” he stated, “by the free and independent condition which they have assumed and maintain, are henceforth not to be considered as subjects for future colonization by any European Power.”

The Monroe Doctrine at the time of its adoption thus pertained more to the Russians in North America than to the former Spanish colonies. The result was a system of American isolationism under the sponsorship of the British navy. The Monroe Doctrine held that the United States considered the Western Hemisphere as no longer a place for European colonization; that any future effort to gain further political control in the hemisphere or to violate the independence of existing states would be treated as an act of hostility; and finally that there existed two different and incompatible political systems in the world. The United States, therefore, promised to refrain from intervention in European affairs and demanded Europe to abstain from interfering with American matters. There were few serious European attempts at intervention.[37]

Monroe made balanced Cabinet choices, naming a southerner, John C. Calhoun, as Secretary of War, and a northerner, John Quincy Adams, as Secretary of State. Both proved outstanding, as Adams was a master diplomat[38] and Calhoun completely reorganized the War Department to overcome the serious deficiencies that hobbled it during the war of 1812.[39] Monroe decided on political grounds not to offer Henry Clay the State Department, and Clay turned down the War Department and remained Speaker of the House, so Monroe lacked an outstanding westerner in his cabinet.

Monroe appointed one Justice to the Supreme Court of the United States, Smith Thompson. He appointed 21 other federal judges, all to United States district courts, as no vacancies occurred on the one circuit court existing at the time.


Monroe once owned a farm at the location of the University of Virginia in Charlottesville

When his presidency ended on March 4, 1825, James Monroe resided at Monroe Hill on the grounds of the University of Virginia. This university’s modern campus was Monroe’s family farm from 1788 to 1817, but he had sold it in the first year of his presidency to the new college. He served on the college’s Board of Visitors under Jefferson and then under the second rector and another former President James Madison, almost until his death.

Monroe had racked up many debts during his years of public life. As a result, he was forced to sell off his Highland Plantation (now called Ash Lawn-Highland; it is owned by his alma mater, the College of William and Mary, which has opened it to the public). Throughout his life, he was not financially solvent, and his wife’s poor health made matters worse.[40]

For these reasons, he and his wife lived in Oak Hill, Virginia, until Elizabeth’s death on September 23, 1830. In August 1825, the Marquis de Lafayette and President John Quincy Adams, were guests of the Monroes there.[41]

Upon Elizabeth’s death in 1830, Monroe moved to New York City to live with his daughter Maria Hester Monroe Gouverneur who had married Samuel L. Gouverneur in the White House. Monroe’s health began to slowly fail by the end of the 1820’s and John Quincy Adams visited him there in April 1831.[42] Adams found him alert and eager to discuss the situation in Europe, but in ill health. Adams cut the visit short when he thought he was tiring Monroe.

Monroe died there from heart failure and tuberculosis on July 4, 1831, thus becoming the third president in a row who died on Independence Day, July 4. His death came 55 years after the U.S. Declaration of Independence was proclaimed and 5 years after the death of two other Founding Fathers who became Presidents: John Adams and Thomas Jefferson. Monroe was originally buried in New York at the Gouverneur family’s vault in the New York City Marble Cemetery. Twenty-seven years later in 1858 the body was re-interred to the President’s Circle at the Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond, Virginia. The James Monroe Tomb is a U.S. National Historic Landmark.


Statue of Monroe at Ash Lawn-Highland

“When it comes to Monroe’s thoughts on religion,” Bliss Isely notes, “less is known than that of any other President.” No letters survive in which he discussed his religious beliefs. Nor did his friends, family or associates comment on his beliefs. Letters that do survive, such as ones written after the death of his son, contain no discussion of religion.[43]

Monroe was raised in a family that belonged to the Church of England when it was the state church in Virginia before the Revolution. As an adult, he frequently attended Episcopalian churches, though there is no record he ever took communion. He has been classified by some historians as a Deist because he used deistic language to refer to an impersonal God.[44] Unlike Jefferson, Monroe was rarely attacked as an atheist and infidel for his deistic views. An exception came in 1832 when James Renwick Willson, a Reformed Presbyterian minister in Albany, New York, criticized Monroe for having “lived and died like a second-rate Athenian philosopher.”[45]

As Secretary of State, Monroe dismissed Mordecai Manuel Noah from his post as consul to Tunis in 1815, for the apparent reason that he was Jewish.[46] Noah protested and gained letters from Adams, Jefferson, and Madison supporting church-state separation and tolerance for Jews.[47]

Monroe owned dozens of slaves, and according to William Seale, took some of his slaves to serve him when he resided at the White House from 1817 to 1825; this was not unique, as other slave owning presidents also had the custom of bringing their slaves to work for them since there was no domestic staff provided for the presidents at that time.[48]

On October 15, 1799, some slave traders attempted to transport a group of slaves from Southampton to Georgia when the slaves revolted and killed the slave traders.[49] According to Scheer’s article on the subject, a nearby slave patrol responded and killed ten slaves on the spot in extra judicial killings without the benefit of trial. Of the initial group, there were five men taken alive. They were tried in an oyer and terminer court without the benefit of a jury,[50] and four were convicted (the fifth pleaded benefit of clergy and was flogged and branded). Governor Monroe postponed their executions to check their identities, granting a pardon to one, and allowing two to hang, while the other died in jail from exposure to the cold. Scheer’s argument is that Monroe “help[ed] secure a modicum of civil protection for slaves sentenced to death for capital crimes.”[51]

When Monroe was Governor of Virginia in 1800, hundreds of slaves from Virginia intended to kidnap Governor Monroe, take Richmond, and negotiate for their freedom. Due to a storm on August 30, they were unable to attack. This is known as Gabriel’s slave conspiracy.[52]

In response, Governor Monroe called out the militia; the slave patrols soon captured some slaves accused of involvement. Sidbury says some trials had a few measures to prevent abuses like an appointed attorney, but were “hardly ‘fair'”. Slave codes prevented slaves from being treated like whites, and had quick trials without a jury.[53] Governor Monroe influenced the Executive Council to pardon and sell some slaves instead of hanging them.[54] Nonetheless, historians say the Virginia courts executed between 26 and 35 slaves. None of the executed slaves actually killed any whites because the uprising had been foiled before it could begin.[49]

As president of Virginia’s constitutional convention in the fall of 1829, Monroe reiterated his belief that slavery was a blight which, even as a British colony, Virginia had attempted to eradicate. “What was the origin of our slave population?” he rhetorically asked. “The evil commenced when we were in our Colonial state, but acts were passed by our Colonial Legislature, prohibiting the importation, of more slaves, into the Colony. These were rejected by the Crown.” To the extreme chagrin of states’ rights proponents, he was even willing to accept the federal government’s financial assistance in emancipating and deporting the slaves. At the convention, Monroe made his final public statement on slavery, proposing that Virginia emancipate and deport its bondsmen with “the aid of the Union.”[55]

Monroe was part of the African Colonization Society formed in 1816, which included members like Henry Clay and Andrew Jackson. These men were not abolitionists, but they did find common ground with some abolitionists who supported colonization, and together they helped send several thousand freed slaves to Africa from 1820 to 1840. The concern slave owners like Monroe and Jackson had was to prevent free blacks from influencing slaves to rebel in southern states. With about $100,000 in Federal grant money, the organization also bought land for those people in what is today Liberia.[56] The capital of Liberia was named Monrovia after him.[57]

During his years of service in the U.S. Government James Monroe was noted for a number of famous quotes. Some of the more notable ones are listed below:

  • “It is only when the people become ignorant and corrupt, when they degenerate into a populace, that they are incapable of exercising their sovereignty. Usurpation is then an easy attainment, and an usurper soon found. The people themselves become the willing instruments of their own debasement and ruin.” [58]
  • “Peace and good will have been, and will hereafter be, cultivated with all, and by the most faithful regard to justice. They have been dictated by a love of peace, of economy, and an earnest desire to save the lives of our fellow-citizens from that destruction and our country from that devastation which are inseparable from war when it finds us unprepared for it.”[59]
  • “The best form of government is that which is most likely to prevent the greatest sum of evil.”[60]
  • “Never did a government commence under auspices so favorable, nor ever was success so complete. If we look to the history of other nations, ancient or modern, we find no example of a growth so rapid, so gigantic, of a people so prosperous and happy.” [59]
  • “Such, then, being the highly favored condition of our country, it is in the interest of every citizen to maintain it. What are the dangers which menace us? If any exist, they ought to be ascertained and guarded against.” [59]
  • “The earth was given to mankind to support the greatest number of which it is capable, and no tribe or people have a right to withhold from the wants of others more than is necessary for their own support and comfort.” [59]
  • “We must support our rights or lose our character, and with it, perhaps, our liberties. A people who fail to do it can scarcely be said to hold a place among independent nations. National honor is national property of the highest value. The sentiment in the mind of every citizen is national strength. It ought therefore to be cherished.”


Monroe Hall at the University of Virginia; Monroe once owned the land on which the university sits.

  • Monroe Hall, a freshman dormitory in Presidents Park at George Mason University is named after him
  • Monroe Hall, an academic building at the George Washington University is named after him
  • The City of Monroe, Michigan is also named for him.
  • James Monroe High School in Los Angeles, California is named after him.
  • Monroe County, PA, created in 1836, is named for him.
  • The City of Monroe, Georgia, incorporated in 1821, is named for him.


First Monroe Postage stamp, Issue of 1904


  • Monroe was the last U.S. President to wear a powdered wig tied in a queue, a tricorne and knee breeches according to the old fashioned style of the eighteenth century.[61][62]
  • Monroe served two full terms, succeeding James Madison who served two full terms, who succeeded Thomas Jefferson who served two full terms. He would be the last two-term President to succeed another two-term President until George W. Bush succeeded Bill Clinton nearly 200 years later. Moreover, Bush and Clinton belonged to rival political parties, whereas Jefferson, Madison and Monroe were in the same party, and Madison and Monroe had each served in their predecessors’ cabinets, making Monroe the last two-term president to succeed a member of the same party.
  • Monroe was the last president who had never been photographed and whose portraits are preserved today only on paintings.[63]


  • Ammon, Harry. James Monroe: The Quest for National Identity. (1971, 2nd ed. 1990). 706 pp. standard scholarly biography excerpt and text search
  • Ammon, Harry. “James Monroe” in Henry F. Graff ed., The Presidents: A Reference History (1997)
  • Bemis, Samuel Flagg. John Quincy Adams and the Foundations of American Foreign Policy (1949), the standard history of Monroe’s foreign policy.
  • Cresson, William P. James Monroe (1946). 577 pp. good scholarly biography
  • Cunningham, Noble E., Jr. The Presidency of James Monroe. 1996. 246 pp. standard scholarly survey
  • Dangerfield, George. Era of Good Feelings (1953) excerpt and text search
  • Dangerfield, George. The Awakening of American Nationalism: 1815–1828 (1965) standard scholarly survey excerpt and text search
  • Elkins, Stanley M. and Eric McKitrick. The Age of Federalism (1995). most advanced analysis of the politics of the 1790s. online edition
  • Heidler, David S. “The Politics of National Aggression: Congress and the First Seminole War,” Journal of the Early Republic 1993 13(4): 501–530. in JSTOR
  • Finkelman, Paul, ed. Encyclopedia of the New American Nation, 1754–1829 (2005), 1600 pp.
  • Gilman, Daniel Coit. James Monroe (1911) 312 pages; old barely adequate biography. online edition
  • Hart, Gary. James Monroe (2005) superficial, short, popular biography
  • Howe, Daniel Walker. What Hath God Wrought: The Transformation of America, 1815–1848 (2007), Pulitzer Prize; a sweeping interpretation of the entire era
  • Holmes, David L. The Faiths of the Founding Fathers, May 2006, online version
  • Kranish, Michael. “At Capitol, slavery’s story turns full circle”, The Boston Globe, Boston, December 28, 2008.
  • May, Ernest R. The Making of the Monroe Doctrine (1975), argues it was issued to influence the outcome of the presidential election of 1824.
  • Morgan, George. The Life of James Monroe (1921) 484 pages; old and barely adequate biography. online edition
  • Perkins, Bradford. Castlereagh and Adams: England and the United States, 1812–1823 (1964)
  • Perkins, Dexter. The Monroe Doctrine, 1823–1826 (1927), the standard monograph about the origins of the doctrine.
  • Powell, Walter & Steinberg, Richard. The nonprofit sector: a research handbook, Yale, 2006, pg 40.
  • Renehan Edward J., Jr. The Monroe Doctrine: The Cornerstone of American Foreign Policy (2007)
  • Scherr, Arthur. “James Monroe and John Adams: An Unlikely ‘Friendship'”. The Historian 67#3 (2005) pp. 405+. online edition
  • Skeen, Carl Edward. 1816: America Rising (1993) popular history
  • Scherr, Arthur. “James Monroe on the Presidency and ‘Foreign Influence;: from the Virginia Ratifying Convention (1788) to Jefferson’s Election (1801).” Mid-America 2002 84(1–3): 145–206. ISSN 0026-2927.
  • Scherr, Arthur. “Governor James Monroe and the Southampton Slave Resistance of 1799.” Historian 1999 61(3): 557–578. ISSN 0018-2370 Full text online in SwetsWise and Ebsco.
  • Styron, Arthur. The Last of the Cocked Hats: James Monroe and the Virginia Dynasty (1945). 480 pp. thorough, scholarly treatment of the man and his times.
  • Unger, Harlow G.. “The Last Founding Father: James Monroe and a Nation’s Call to Greatness” (2009), a new biography.
  • White, Leonard D. The Jeffersonians: A Study in Administrative History, 1801–1829 (1951), explains the operation and organization of federal administration
  • Whitaker, Arthur P. The United States and the Independence of Latin America (1941)
  • Wilmerding, Jr., Lucius, James Monroe: Public Claimant (1960) A study regarding Monroe’s attempts to get reimbursement for personal expenses and losses from his years in public service after his Presidency ended.
  • Wood, Gordon S. Empire of Liberty: A history of the Early Republic, 1789–1815 (2009)


  • Monroe, James. The Political Writings of James Monroe. ed. by James P. Lucier, (2002). 863 pp.
  • Writings of James Monroe, edited by Stanislaus Murray Hamilton, ed., 7 vols. (1898–1903) online edition at books.google.com


  1. Harlow Unger, James Monroe: The Last Founding Father (2009).
  2. Hart, Gary, ‘James Monroe’ (2005), p.68
  3. Harry Ammon, James Monroe: the quest for national identity (1990) p. 577
  4. Ammon, James Monroe pp 3-8
  5. Holmes, David R. (2006). The faiths of the founding fathers. Oxford [Oxfordshire]: Oxford University Press. p. 104. ISBN 0-19-530092-0.
  6. Pessen, Edward (1984). The Log Cabin Myth: The Social Backgrounds of the Presidents. Yale University Press. p. 79. ISBN 0-300-03166-1.
  7. “Presidential Trivia”. Vernonkids.com. http://www.vernonkids.com/cedarmountain/4thgradelinks/President%20Trivia/Presidential%20Trivia.htm
  8. “James Monroe Museum and Memorial Library | James Monroe Museum and Memorial Library Home Page”. Umw.edu. http://www.umw.edu/jamesmonroemuseum/default.php
  9. “Homes Of Virginia – James Monroe’s Law Office”. Oldandsold.com. http://www.oldandsold.com/articles11/virginia-homes-13.shtml
  10. “How many wedding ceremonies have been held at the White House?”. While House History web site. The White House Historical Association. http://www.whitehousehistory.org/whha_history/history_faqs-06.html
  11. Doug Wead (2008). “Murder at the Wedding Maria Hester Monroe”. http://www.whitehouseweddings.com/murder.htm. Retrieved March 13, 2011. Excerpt from All The President’s Children: Triumph and Tragedy in the Lives of America’s First Families. Simon and Schuster. 2004. ISBN 978-074344633-4.
  12. Gerard W. Gawalt, “James Monroe, Presidential Planter,” Virginia Magazine of History and Biography 1993 101(2): 251–272
  13. Morgan, George, The life of James Monroe, (1921) p.94
  14. Jon Kukla, “A Spectrum of Sentiments: Virginia’s Federalists, Antifederalists, and ‘Federalists Who Are for Amendments,’ 1787–1788,” Virginia Magazine of History and Biography 1988 96(3): 276–296.
  15. Harry Ammon, James Monroe (1971) p. 89
  16. “MONROE, James – Biographical Information”. United States Congress. http://bioguide.congress.gov/scripts/biodisplay.pl?index=M000858
  17. Morgan, George (1921), ‘The life of James Monroe’, p.75
  18. Ammon, James Monroe pp 137–8
  19. Herbert E. Klingelhofer, “George Washington Discharges Monroe for Incompetence,” Manuscripts 1965 17(1): 26–34
  20. Ammon, James Monroe pp 55–56
  21. Ammon, James Monroe p. 151
  22. Ammon, James Monroe p. 193
  23. Arthur Scherr, “James Monroe on the Presidency and ‘Foreign Influence;: from the Virginia Ratifying Convention (1788) to Jefferson’s Election (1801).” Mid-America 2002 84(1–3): 145–206
  24. Morgan, George, ‘The life of James Monroe’, p.xvi
  25. Alan Axelrod, Profiles in Folly: History’s Worst Decisions and Why They Went Wrong (2008) p. 154
  26. David A. Carson, “Quiddism and the Reluctant Candidacy of James Monroe in the Election of 1808,” Mid-America 1988 70(2): 79–89
  27. Hart, Gary, ‘James Monroe’ (2005), p.52
  28. William G. Morgan, “The Congressional Nominating Caucus of 1816: the Struggle Against the Virginia Dynasty,” Virginia Magazine of History & Biography 1972 80(4): 461–475
  29. “America President: James Monroe: Campaigns and Elections”. Miller Center of Public Affairs. http://millercenter.org/academic/americanpresident/monroe/essays/biography/3
  30. Arthur Meier Schlesinger, Jr., ed. History of U.S. political parties: Volume 1 (1973) pp. 24–25, 267
  31. “The administration of James Monroe.” Bancroft, Hubert H., ed. (1902). “The Great Republic by the Master Historians”. http://www.publicbookshelf.com/public_html/The_Great_Republic_By_the_Master_Historians_Vol_III/jamesmonr_bd.html.
  32. “Cumberland Road”. Cyclopædia of Political Science, Political Economy, and the Political History of the United States by the Best American and European Writers. 1899. http://www.econlib.org/library/YPDBooks/Lalor/llCy338.html.
  33. David S. Heidler, “The Politics of National Aggression: Congress and the First Seminole War.” Journal of the Early Republic 1993 13(4): 501–530.
  34. Francis Paul Prucha, The great father: the United States government and the American Indians (1986) p. 65
  35. Ammon, James Monroe, pp 536–40
  36. Ammon, James Monroe, pp 409–48
  37. Ammon, James Monroe, pp 476–92
  38. Samuel Flagg Bemis, John Quincy Adams and the foundations of American foreign policy, (1944) pp 244–61
  39. Charles Maurice Wiltse, John C. Calhoun: Nationalist, 1782–1828 (1944) pp 142–53
  40. “Ashlawn website”. Ashlawnhighland.org. http://www.ashlawnhighland.org
  41. Auguste Levasseur. Alan R. Hoffman. ed. Lafayette in America. p. 549.
  42. Jon Meacham. American Lion. p. 181.
  43. Bliss Isely, The Presidents: Men of Faith (2006) p 99-107, quote on p 105
  44. Holmes, David L. (Autumn 2003). “The Religion of James Monroe”. Virginia Quarterly Review 79 (4): 589–606. http://www.vqronline.org/articles/2003/autumn/holmes-religion-james-monroe/
  45. “Prince Messiah’s Claims to Dominion Over All Governments”. Covenanter.org. http://www.covenanter.org/JRWillson/princemessiah.htm
  46. Bassett, Charles Walker; Maisel, Louis Sandy; Forman, Ira N.; Altschiller, Donald (2001). Jews in American politics. Lanham, Md: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers. p. 30. ISBN 0-7425-0181-7.
  47. Richard H. Popkin, “Thomas Jefferson’s Letter to Mordecai Noah,” American Book Collector 1987 8(6): 9–11
  48. Kranish, Michael. “At Capitol, slavery’s story turns full circle”, The Boston Globe, Boston, December 28, 2008.
  49. Aptheker, Herbert (1993). American Negro Slave Revolts (6th ed.). New York: International Publishers. pp. 219–225. ISBN 978-0717806058. http://books.google.com/books?id=PkCwK3Uv71IC&lpg=PP1&pg=PA219#v=onepage&q&f=false.
  50. Sidbury, James. “Ploughshares into swords: race, rebellion, and identity in Gabriel’s Virginia, 1730–1810. “, Cambridge, 1997, pg 128.
  51. Scheer, Arthur. “Governor James Monroe and Southampton Slave Resistance of 1799″, The Historian, Vol. 61, 1999, available on Questia
  52. Rodriguez, Junius. “Slavery in the United States: a social, political, and historical encyclopedia”, , Santa Barbara, 2007, pg 428.
  53. Sidbury, James. “Ploughshares into swords: race, rebellion, and identity in Gabriel’s Virginia, 1730–1810. “, Cambridge, 1997, pg 127–128.
  54. Morris, Thomas. ” Southern Slavery and the Law, 1619–1860 “, 1996, pg 272.
  55. Ammon, 1990, pp 563–66
  56. Powell & Steinberg . “The nonprofit sector: a research handbook”, Yale, 2006, pg 40.
  57. Ammon, 1990, pp 522–23
  58. Ammon, Harry, ‘James Monroe, the quest for national identity’, (1990), p.177
  59. Great Presidential Quotes. “Great Presidential Quotes”. Great Presidential Quotes. http://www.greatpresidentialquotes.com/index.php?set=details&id=5&page=1
  60. “James Monroe Quotes”. Brainyquote.com. http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/j/james_monroe.html
  61. Digital History, Steven Mintz. “Digital History”. Digitalhistory.uh.edu. http://www.digitalhistory.uh.edu/database/article_display.cfm?HHID=567
  62. Real Life at the White House: 200 … – Google Knihy. Books.google.cz. May 3, 2002. ISBN 9780415939515. http://books.google.com/?id=p1unoHtahSsC&pg=PA37&lpg=PA37&dq=James+Monroe++in+wig&q=James%20Monroe%20%20in%20wig
  63. “Presidents of the United States (POTUS)”. Ipl.org. http://www.ipl.org/div/potus/jqadams.html.

Dabney Carr, nephew of Thomas Jefferson

April 27, 2013

Dabney Carr was born on April 27, 1773, at Spring Forest, a Goochland County, Virginia, plantation just three weeks before the death of his father, also named Dabney Carr, brother-in-law and close friend of Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson took an active role in the support and education of his nephew after his father’s death. He attended Hampden-Sydney College and returned home to study law with William Wirt, who was just one year older. The two men remained friends for the rest of their lives. An extensive collection of their letters can be found in the Manuscripts Department, Library of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.


Letter from Thomas Jefferson to Dabney Carr, 1826. Library of Congress

He married his paternal cousin, Elizabeth Carr in June of 1802.

Carr started practice in Albemarle County and, in 1811, became Chancellor of the Winchester District. Using the pseudonym Obediah Squaretoes, Carr contributed an article to William Wirt’s The Old Bachelor (1814). In 1824, he was elected a judge of the Court of Appeals and held this office until his death on January 8, 1837.


He is interred in Richmond’s Shockoe Hill Cemetery.

His nephew, Dabney Smith Carr, was a newspaper publisher and later was U.S. Minister to Turkey (1843–49).


John Patten, Delaware soldier and politician

April 26, 2013

Major John Patten was an American farmer and politician from Dover, in Kent County, Delaware. He was an officer of the Continental Army in the American Revolution, a Continental Congressman, and a member of the Jeffersonian Republican Party, who served in the Delaware General Assembly and as U.S. Representative from Delaware.


Patten was born on April 26, 1746, at Tynhead Court, near Dover, Delaware, son of John Patten and Ann Maxwell. This property was on the present Dover Air Force Base, near the farms of Caesar Rodney and John Dickinson. He was a farmer, who after the American Revolution married Ann Haslet, daughter of the first Colonel of the 1st Delaware Regiment, John Haslet. She died soon thereafter, and he married Mary Miller Loockerman, daughter of the Rev. John Miller and widow of Vincent Loockerman.

Patten was commissioned a first lieutenant in Captain John Caldwell’s 2nd Company of the 1st Delaware Regiment at the beginning of the American Revolutionary War. He was soon promoted to captain of the 1st Company and in February 1779 and was promoted to the rank of major. He fought in every major battle from the Battle of Long Island until the Battle of Camden, where the Delaware Regiment suffered grievous losses, and he was taken prisoner. Paroled in 1781, after the fighting was over, he is said to have walked home alone in rags from Charleston, South Carolina.

Patten was elected in 1785 to the State House or House of Assembly, as it was then known, and represented Kent County, during the 1785/86 session. At the same time he was elected to the Continental Congress in 1785 and served there one year. He won a closely contested election to the U.S. House in 1792 and took his seat in the U.S. House on March 4, 1793. However, Henry Latimer, the Federal candidate contested the election, claiming that many ballots were invalid because they were filled out incorrectly. After a lengthy study the Federalist majority in the U.S. House voted on February 14, 1794 to invalidate enough ballots to award the seat to Latimer. A few months later Patten again defeated Latimer, and this time served the whole term, from March 4, 1795 until March 3, 1797. Brought out of political retirement in 1800, Patten was defeated for the U.S. House seat by the incumbent Federalist James A. Bayard.

Patten died at his home, Tynhead Court, near Dover, on December 26, 1800, and is buried in the Old Presbyterian Cemetery, which is at Dover, on the grounds of the Delaware State Museum. He had a home on the north side of Front Street, between Orange and Tattnall Streets in Wilmington, Delaware, but was always a legal resident of Kent County. He was active in the Philadelphia Society for promoting Agriculture, the Society of the Cincinnati, and the Lyceum of Delaware.


  1. election successfully contested and seat awarded to Henry Latimer


  • Martin, Roger A. (2003). Delawareans in Congress: The House of Representatives, Vol. One 1789-1900. Newark: Roger A. Martin. ISBN 0-924117-26-5.
  • Martin, Roger A. (1995). Memoirs of the Senate. Newark: Roger A. Martin.
  • Munroe, John A. (2004). The Philadelawareans. Newark: University of Delaware Press. ISBN 0-87413-872-8.
  • Munroe, John A. (1954). Federalist Delaware 1775-1815. New Brunswick: Rutgers University.
  • Ward, Christopher (1941). The Delaware Continentals. Wilmington, DE: Historical Society of Delaware. ISBN 0-924117-21-4.
  • Wilson, W. Emerson (1969). Forgotten Heroes of Delaware. Cambridge, MA: Deltos Publishing Company.

Gunpowder Incident

April 25, 2013

The Gunpowder Incident (or Gunpowder Affair) was a conflict early in the American Revolutionary War between Lord Dunmore, the Royal Governor of the Colony of Virginia, and militia led by Patrick Henry. On April 20, 1775, one day after the Battles of Lexington and Concord, and well before news of that event reached Virginia, Lord Dunmore ordered the removal of the gunpowder from the magazine in Williamsburg, Virginia to a Royal Navy ship.

This action sparked local unrest, and militia companies began mustering throughout the colony. Patrick Henry led a small militia force toward Williamsburg to force return of the gunpowder to the colony’s control. The matter was resolved without conflict when a payment of £330 was made to Henry. Dunmore, fearing for his personal safety, later retreated to a naval vessel, ending royal control of the colony.


The powder magazine in Williamsburg from which the gunpowder was removed

Military tensions began to rise in the British colonies of North America in 1774 when a series of legislative acts by the British Parliament known as the Intolerable Acts began to be implemented in the colonies. The colonies, in solidarity with the Province of Massachusetts Bay, which had been singled out for punishment by those acts in the wake of the Boston Tea Party, had organized a Congress to meet in September 1774.[1] During the meeting of the First Continental Congress word arrived of a militia uprising in Massachusetts that became known as the Powder Alarm. In early September, General Thomas Gage, the royal governor of Massachusetts, had removed gunpowder from a powder magazine in Charlestown (in a location now in Somerville), and militia from all over New England had flocked to the area in response to false rumors that violence had been involved.[2][3] One consequence of this action was that the Congress called for the colonies to organize militia companies for their defense.[3] Another was that Lord Dartmouth, the Secretary of State for the Colonies, advised the colonial governors to secure their military supplies, and prohibited importation of further supplies of powder.[4]

In early 1775, Virginians began to organize militia companies and seek out military supplies (weapons, ammunition, and gunpowder) to arm and equip them. Lord Dunmore, Virginia’s royal governor, saw this rising unrest in his colony and sought to deprive Virginia militia of these supplies.[4] It was not until after Patrick Henry’s “Give me liberty or give me death” speech at the Second Virginia Convention on March 23 that Dunmore “[thought] it prudent to remove some Gunpowder which was in a Magazine in this place.”[5] Although British Army troops had been withdrawn from Virginia in the wake of the Powder Alarm, there were several Royal Navy ships in the Virginia waters of Chesapeake Bay. On April 19, Lord Dunmore quietly brought a company of British sailors into Williamsburg and quartered them in the governor’s mansion. Dunmore then ordered Captain Henry Collins, commander of HMS Magdalen, to remove the gunpowder from the magazine in Williamsburg.[6]


Drawing of the octagonal Williamsburg Magazine

On the night of April 20, royal marines went to the Williamsburg powder magazine, loaded fifteen half barrels of powder into the governor’s wagon, and transported it to the eastern end of the Quarterpath Road to be loaded aboard the Magdalen in the James River. The act was discovered by townsfolk while underway, and they sounded an alarm. Local militia rallied to the scene, and riders spread word of the incident across the colony. Dunmore had as a precaution armed his servants with muskets, and it was only the calming words of Patriot leaders, including the Speaker of the House of Burgesses, Peyton Randolph, that prevented the assembling crowd from storming Dunmore’s mansion.[6] The city council demanded the return of the powder, claiming it was the property of the colony and not the Crown. Dunmore demurred, stating that he was moving the powder as protection against its seizure during a rumored slave uprising, and would eventually return it. This seemed to satisfy the assembled crowd, and it dispersed peacefully.[7]

Unrest however persisted in Williamsburg and spread throughout the countryside. After a second crowd was convinced to disperse by Patriot leaders, Dunmore reacted angrily, warning on April 22 that if attacked, he would “declare Freedom to the Slaves, and reduce the City of Williamsburg to Ashes.”[6] He also told a Williamsburg alderman that he had “once fought for the Virginians” but “By God, I would let them see that I could fight against them.”[8]


Patrick Henry, portrait by George Bagby Matthews c. 1891 after an original by Thomas Sully

By April 29, militia mobilizing in the countryside had learned of the battles at Lexington and Concord. Nearly 700 men mustered at Fredericksburg, and decided to send a messenger to Williamsburg to assess the situation before marching on the capital. Peyton Randolph advised against violence, and George Washington, a longtime leader of the Virginia militia, concurred. In response to their advice, the Fredericksburg militia voted by a narrow margin not to march.[9] However, militia from other parts of the colony did march to Williamsburg. The Hanover County militia, led by Patrick Henry, voted on May 2 to march on Williamsburg. Henry dispatched a small company to the home of Richard Corbin, who was the Deputy Collector of the Royal Revenue in Virginia, in a bid to force him to pay for the powder from Crown revenue in his possession; the remainder of the Hanover County militia, numbering about 150, marched toward Williamsburg, arriving about 15 miles away on May 3.[10] That day Dunmore’s family escaped Williamsburg to Porto Bello, Lord Dunmore’s hunting lodge on the York River, and from there to the HMS Fowey, lying at anchor in the York River.[11]

Corbin was not at home—he was in Williamsburg, meeting with Dunmore.[10] Henry was advised by Carter Braxton, Corbin’s son-in-law and a Patriot member of the House of Burgesses, not to enter the city, while Braxton rode into the city and negotiated a payment.[12] The next day, May 4, Henry received a bill of exchange for £330 signed by a wealthy plantation owner, as payment for the powder (he refused the offer of payment from Crown accounts).[9] Henry then departed to take his place as a member of Virginia’s delegation to the Second Continental Congress, promising to deliver the money to “the Virginia Delegates at the General congress”.[13] On May 6 Dunmore issued a proclamation charging Henry with extortion of the £330, and forbidding the citizenry to assist Henry in any way.[9] Henry was offered protection by several counties, and was escorted by several companies of militia to the Maryland border as he made his way to Philadelphia.[12]

The incident burnished Henry’s reputation while worsening Dunmore’s popularity.[12][14] Although his family briefly returned to Williamsburg on May 12 as a sign of good faith, relations between Dunmore and the House of Burgesses continued to deteriorate. On June 8, Dunmore and his family fled the governor’s mansion in the middle of the night and took up residence aboard the Fowey.[15] The Burgesses had been deliberating the Conciliatory Resolution, a proposal that was an attempt by the North Ministry to divide the colonies. In the wake of Dunmore’s flight, the Burgesses rejected the proposal.[16]

Dunmore continued to make vigorous attempts to regain control of the colony, but after a decisive defeat of British forces at Great Bridge in December, he was reduced to raiding operations and eventually abandoned the colony for good in August 1776.[17] Virginia’s government was first taken over by a Committee of Safety, chosen by the Third Virginia Convention in July 1775; Patrick Henry became the independent state’s first governor in July 1776.[18]


  1. Russell, pp. 45–46
  2. Richmond, p. 6
  3. Russell, p. 48
  4. Selby and Higginbotham, p. 1
  5. Williamson, p. 54
  6. Russell, p. 52
  7. Selby and Higginbotham, p. 2
  8. Selby and Higginbotham, p. 3
  9. Russell, p. 53
  10. Selby and Higginbotham, p. 4
  11. Kibler, J. Luther (April 1931). “Numerous Errors in Wilstach’s ‘Tidewater Virginia’ Challenge Criticism”. The William and Mary Quarterly, 2nd Ser. (Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture) 11 (2): 152–156. doi:10.2307/1921010. JSTOR 1921010.
  12. Selby and Higginbotham, p. 5
  13. Vaughan, p. 88
  14. Vaughan, p. 89
  15. Selby and Higginbotham, pp. 41–43
  16. Selby and Higginbotham, p. 44
  17. Russell, pp. 68–76
  18. Selby and Higginbotham, pp. 52,121


  • Richmond, Robert P (1971). Powder Alarm 1774. Princeton, NJ: Auerbach. ISBN 9780877690733. OCLC 162197.
  • Russell, David Lee (2000). The American Revolution in the Southern colonies. Jefferson, NC: McFarland. ISBN 9780786407835. OCLC 248087936. http://books.google.com/?id=5DFy0eWaPxIC&pg=PA72&lpg=PA72.
  • Selby, John E; Higginbotham, Don (2007). The Revolution in Virginia, 1775–1783. Williamsburg, VA: Colonial Williamsburg. ISBN 9780879352332. OCLC 124076712. http://books.google.com/books?id=WfCBYZs_jIMC&pg=PA62.
  • Vaughan, David (1997). Give Me Liberty: the Uncompromising Statesmanship of Patrick Henry. Nashville, TN: Cumberland House Publishing. ISBN 9781888952223. OCLC 36372369.

Major Henry Latimer, Revolutionary War "Flying Hospital" mobile surgical unit

April 24, 2013

Dr. Henry Latimer was a physician and politician from Newport, in New Castle County, Delaware. He was elected to the Continental Congress from Delaware, and was a member of the Federalist Party, who served in the Delaware General Assembly, as U.S. Representative from Delaware, and U.S. Senator from Delaware.


Latimer was born April 24, 1752 in Newport, Delaware, son of James Latimer, Sr. and Sarah Geddes. His father was a wealthy grain shipper and politician, who was a member of the House of Assembly in the 1778-79 session and a member of the Delaware convention that ratified the U.S. Constitution on December 7, 1787. Latimer’s brother, George, also served in the House of Assembly from the 1779-80 session through the 1781-82 session. Later he moved to Philadelphia where he became Speaker of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives in 1794.

Latimer studied medicine, and attended the College of Philadelphia (now the University of Pennsylvania) in Philadelphia and graduated in 1770, going to Edinburgh College in Scotland in 1775 to complete his education. Returning in the midst of the American Revolution, he served in the “Flying Hospital,” a mobile surgical unit of the Continental Army. He was at the Battle of Brandywine and continued through the end of the war.

Elected to the Continental Congress on April 8, 1784, Latimer never attended the session that spring in Annapolis, Maryland and was replaced. Like his father and brother, he was elected to the House of Assembly and served from the 1787-88 session through the 1790-91 session. He was the Speaker in that last session.

Latimer lost the 1792 election for the U.S. House to Major John Patten by thirty votes, but contested Patton’s election to the U.S. House. The Federalist majority there reviewed the ballots cast, and based on a confusing law requiring the names of two candidates on the ballot, disqualified enough of Patton’s votes to award the seat to Latimer. Amidst considerable bitterness, he was seated February 14, 1794. After once again losing an election to Patten in 1794, Latimer resigned from the U.S. House on February 7, 1795 when he was elected by the Delaware General Assembly to the disputed and long vacant U.S. Senate seat of retired U.S. Senator George Read. After finishing Read’s term, he was reelected in 1796, and served until February 28, 1801, when he also resigned. Some believe that the reason for his resignation was that he was unhappy over the tactics of his political opponents who were still bitter over the circumstances of the contested election in 1792.

At various times Latimer was a member of the Wilmington Academy board, director of the Bank of Delaware, president of the First Agricultural Society of New Castle County, and president of the Board of Trustees of Newark College. He was a charter member of the Delaware Medical Society.

Latimer died December 19, 1819 at Philadelphia and was buried first in the Presbyterian Cemetery in Wilmington. This cemetery is now the location of the Wilmington Institute Library and his remains were then moved to the Wilmington and Brandywine Cemetery.


Even though he was a physician and a Presbyterian, Latimer was a member of a prominent and well-to-do merchant family and was very much in agreement with the prevailing Federalist positions on such controversial issues as the Jay Treaty and other measures of the Adams administration. The burgeoning party of Thomas Jefferson, now known as the Democratic-Republicans, was increasingly popular and vocal in heavily Irish and “Country Party” New Castle County, and they never seemed to forgive him his apparent theft of the 1792 congressional election. Consequently, upon celebrating election victories in 1802, they fired cannon, loaded with potatoes and herring, in mock salute to Latimer, remembering his reputed statement that “the laboring classes lived too well to be happy and should be reduced to the fare of the Irish.” [2]


  1. this seat was vacant from September 18, 1793 until February 7, 1795.
  2. Munroe, John A. (1954). Federalist Delaware 1775-1815. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University.
  3. contested election, seated February 14, 1794, resigned February 7, 1795
  4. elected to fill vacancy, February 7, 1795


  • Martin, Roger A. (1995). Memoirs of the Senate. Newark, DE: Roger A. Martin.
  • Martin, Roger A. (2003). Delawareans in Congress. Middletown, DE: Roger A. Martin. ISBN 0-924117-26-5.
  • Munroe, John A. (1954). Federalist Delaware 1775-1815. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University.
  • Wilson, W. Emerson (1969). Forgotten Heroes of Delaware. Cambridge, MA: Deltos Publishing Company.


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