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Elected to Congress. - His course in relation to the constitution. Elected governor of Virginia state, he was found among the volunteers; and when, in 1780, Charleston fell into the hands of the British, he repaired to the southern army as a commissioner appointed by the governor of Virginia, to collect information for Congress and the commander-in-chief, respecting its strength, and its ability to rescue and defend that portion of the Union.
In 1782, he was elected a member of the Virginia legislature, and was soon after chosen by that body a member of the executive council. The following year, although only twenty-five years of age, he was chosen a delegate to represent Virginia in the Continental Congress. He was present when Washington surrendered his commission to that body; and he continued to represent his state there until 1786.* In 1785, he took the incipient step in Congress toward the framing of a new constitution, by moving to invest Congress with the power of regulating trade and of levying an import-duty. These movements finally brought about the convention to revise the Articles of Confederation.
According to a rule of the old Continental Congress, a member of that body was ineligible for a second term; and when, in 1786, Mr. Monroe's terni expired, he retired to Fredericksburg, with a view of practising law. But he was soon after elected a member of the Virginia legislature; and in 1788, he was chosen a delegate to the state convention to decide upon the adoption of the constitution. Not being satisfied with that instrument, although conscious of the inefficiency of the Articles of Confederation, he opposed its adoption. In 1789, he was elected to a seat in the senate of the United States, in which station he. continued until 1794, always acting with the anti-federalists, and opposed to Washington's administration.
In 1794, he was appointed to succeed Gouverneur Morris as minister to France, but not conforming to Washington's views, he was recalled in 1796. In 1799, he was elected governor of Virginia, and served the constitutional term of three years. In 1803, Mr. Jefferson appointed him envoy extraordinary to France, to act with Mr. Livingston, and he was a party to the treaty for the cession and purchase of Louisiana. Disputes concerning boundaries having occurred with Spain, he went to Madrid to settle the difficulty, but he was unsuccessful. In 1807, he and Mr. Pinckney negotiated a treaty with Great Britain, but it proved unsatisfactory, and was never ratified; and during the year he returned to the United States.
* During his attendance at New York as a member of Congress. he became acquainted with and married the daughter of Mr. L. Kortright, celebrated in the fashionable circles of London and Paris for her beauty and accomplishments. Bhe was a most estimable woman, in both public and private life.
t On his relurn, he published a vindication of his course while in France, in which he cen. sured the conduct of the administration toward that republic.
#Mr. Pinckney was then minister to Spain, but their joint efforts proved ineffectual
Elected president of the United States. The Seminole war. In 1811, Mr. Monroe was again elected governor of Virginia, but was soon after appointed by Mr. Madison secretary of state, which office he held during Madison's administration. After the capture of Washington, he took charge of the war department (still remaining secretary of state), and in that position he exhibited great energy.
Mr. Monroe was elected president of the United States in 1816, and was inaugurated on the 4th of March, 1817.* Impressed with the necessity of frontier defences, he started in May on a tour of inspectionextending eastward as far as Portland, in Maine, northward to the St. Lawrence, and westward to Detroit. He was absent about six months, and was everywhere greeted with distinguished honors.
The first session of the fifteenth Congress commenced on the 1st of December, 1817, when Mr. Clay was re-elected speaker of the house of representatives. The democratic majority in both houses was so overwhelming, that the old federal party seemed hardly to have an existence; in fact, it was scarcely known as such after the peace of 1815. In December, the Mississippi territory was divided : the western portion was admitted into the Union as the state of Mississippi, and the eastern was erected into a territorial government and called Alabama.t
About the close of 1817, the depredations in Georgia and Alabama, of the Seminole Indians, called for hostile measures, and General Gaines was sent to reduce them to submission. He was soon after reinforced by General Jacksont with a considerable number of troops, and the Indians were readily subdued.
The state of Illinois was admitted into the Union on the 3d of December, 1818. In February, 1819, a treaty was negotiated, by which Spain ceded to the United States the whole of East and West Florida and the adjacent islands. Early in the year, the territory of Arkansas was erected out of a portion of Missouri; and the people of Michigan were authorized to send a delegate to Congress. On the 4th of December, 1819, Alabama was admitted into the Union. Early in May, 1820, Maine was separated from Massachusetts and made an independent state.
• Daniel D. Tompkins, of New York, was elected vice-president. John Quincy Adams, of Massachusetts, was appointed secretary of state; William H. Crawford, of Georgia, secretary of the treasury ; John C. Calhoun, of South Carolina, secretary of war; and William Wirt, of Virginia, attorney-general. W. W. Crowninshield, of Massachusetts, was continued secretary of the navy until November, 1818, when Smith Thompson, of New York, was appointed in bis place. General Jackson, who was a warm friend of Monroe, advised him to disregard party influence in bis appointments, and choose the best men in the country. But he selected chiefly from among his political friends.
† Congress passed an act about the close of 1817, fixing the number of stripes, alternate red and white (first adopted in 1777), at thirteen, and directed that the Union be represented by stars equal to the number of states -- white on a blue field.
General Jackson marched into the Spanish territory of Florida, and seized St. Marks and Pensacola. This act gave rise to much discussion in Congress, and diplomacy between the two governmenta.
Re-elected president. -His death and character. In 1820, Mr. Monroe was re-elected president with great unanimity Notwithstanding general prosperity prevailed (and immigration was fast peopling new states and adding them to the Union), the currency became much deranged, and private banking-companies flooded the country with paper money. In August, 1821, Missouri, the twentyfourth state, was admitted into the Union.* In January, 1822, our government acknowledged the independence of Mexico and five Spanish provinces of South America ; and money sufficient to defray the expenses of envoys to each was appropriated. During the year a treaty concerning navigation and commerce was made with France. An alarming system of piracy having grown up in the West Indies, a naval force was sent there under the command of Commodore Porter, and upward of twenty piratical vessels were destroyed on the coast of Cu
ba, and their retreats were broken up. During the sum
mer of 1824, La Fayette visited this country as the “ guest of the nation," and made a tour of nearly five thousand miles.
The election of Mr. Monroe's successor was an exciting topic for nearly three years. There were five candidates in the field, all of the democratic party : John Quincy Adams, Henry Clay, William H. Crawford, John C. Calhoun, and Andrew Jackson. The choice devolved upon the house of representatives, and John Quincy Adams was the successful one.
On the 3d of March, 1825, Mr. Monroe retired from the presidential chair, his administration having been an eminently harmonious and prosperous one. He retired to his residence in Loudon county, in Vir. ginia, where he resided until 1831, when he removed to the city of New York and took up his residence with his son-in-law, Samuel L. Gouver
He was soon after seized with severe illness; and on the 4th of July, 1831, he expired, in the seventy-second year of his age, making the third president who had died on the national anniversary.
Mr. Monroe was about six feet high and well formod, with light complexion and blue eyes. Honesty, firmness, and prudence, rather than superior intellect, were stamped upon his countenance. He was industrious and indefatigable in labor, warm in his friendships, and in manners was a good specimen of the old Virginia gentleman. His long life was honorable to himself and useful to his country.
* On the subject of the admission of this state, Congress, and indeed the whole country, was greatly agitated by the question whether slavery should be allowed to exist in the new state The north and eouth were for the first time arrayed against each other. The matter was finally compromised.
t During his administration, so rapid bad been the tide of immigration, that six new states were aided to the Union.