James Monroe

JAMES MONROE was born in Westmoreland County, Virginia, on 28 April 1758; attended private school and entered William and Mary College at sixteen; interrupted his education to become an officer in the Continental Army in 1776; participated in operations at Harlem, White Plains, Trenton, Brandywine, Germantown, and Monmouth; studied law under Governor Thomas Jefferson of Virginia, 1780–1783; served in the Virginia legislature, 1782–1786; served in the Confederation Congress, 1783–1786; married Eliza Kortright, 1786; was admitted to the Virginia bar and practiced at Fredericksburg; was a delegate to the state convention called to ratify the Constitution, 1788; served in the U.S. Senate, 1790–1794; served as minister to France, 1794–1796; was governor of Virginia, 1799–1802; was appointed special envoy to France in 1803 and participated in negotiations related to the Louisiana Purchase; served as minister to Great Britain, 1803–1807; headed a mission to Spain to negotiate American claims to Florida, 1804–1805; was offered and refused the governorship of Upper Louisiana, 1809; was again elected to the Virginia legislature, 1810; was again governor of Virginia, 1811; served as Secretary of State, 1811–1814; served concurrently as Secretary of War, 27 September 1814–2 March 1815; urged that conscription be introduced; was again Secretary of State, 1815–1817; was President of the United States, 1817–1825; enunciated the Monroe Doctrine restraining European intrusions into the Americas; was elected to and presided over the Virginia Constitutional Convention of 1829; moved to New York City after his wife’s death to live with his married daughter; died there on 4 July 1831.

The Artist

Robert Walter Weir (1803–1889) was born in New York City. He studied under John Wesley Jarvis and the English heraldic artist, Robert Cox. Weir established himself as a professional artist and studied in Florence, Italy, for three years before opening a New York studio in the late 1820’s. In 1834 he became instructor in drawing at the United States Military Academy and was made professor in 1846, a post he held for three decades. A portraitist as well as landscape and genre painter, he executed half a dozen likenesses for the Army gallery.


Portrait, James Monroe

Madison Administration
By Robert Walter Weir
Oil on canvas, 29½" x 24½", 1873


page created 1 March 2001

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