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James Monroe (April 28, 1758 – July 4, 1831) was the fifth (1817–1825) President of the United States and the author of the Monroe Doctrine. He was the last President that was a Founding Father of the United States.
- 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.
- First Inaugural Address (4 March 1817)
- National honor is the national property of the highest value.
- First Inaugural Address (4 March 1817)
- Preservation, improvement, and civilization of the native inhabitants. The Hunter state can exist only in the vast uncultivated desert. It yields to the more dense compact form of and greater force of civilized population; and of right it ought to yield, for 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 then is necessary for their own support and comfort.
- Message to Congress (1817)
- The mention of Greece fills the mind with the most exalted sentiments and arouses in our bosoms the best feelings of which our nature is capable.
- Message to Congress (December 1822)
- Our relation to Europe, is pretty much the same, as it was in the commencement of the French Revolution. Can we, in any form, take a bolder attitude in regard to it, in favor of liberty, than we then did? Can we afford greater aid to that cause, by assuming any such attitude, than we do now, by the form of our example?
- Letter to Thomas Jefferson (1822)
- What was the origin of our slave population? 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. We declared our independence, and the prohibition of a further importation was among the first acts of state sovereignty. Virginia was the first state which instructed her delegates to declare the colonies independent. She braved all dangers. From Quebec to Boston, and from Boston to Savannah, Virginia shed the blood of her sons. No imputation then can be cast upon her in this matter. She did all that was in her power to do, to prevent the extension of slavery, and to mitigate its evils.
- Speech in the Virginia State Convention for altering the Constitution (2 November 1829)
The Monroe Doctrine (2 December 1823)
- The American continents, 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.
- In the wars of the European powers in matters relating to themselves we have never taken any part, nor does it comport with our policy so to do.
- We owe it, therefore, to candor and to the amicable relations existing between the United States and those powers to declare that we should consider any attempt on their part to extend their system to any portion of this hemisphere as dangerous to our peace and safety. With the existing colonies or dependencies of any European power we have not interfered and shall not interfere. But with the Governments who have declared their independence and maintain it, and whose independence we have, on great consideration and on just principles, acknowledged, we could not view any interposition for the purpose of oppressing them, or controlling in any other manner their destiny, by any European power in any other light than as the manifestation of an unfriendly disposition toward the United States.
Quotes about Monroe
- [T]he President while not believing it would come to war, was prepared to defend South American Liberty.
- John Quincy Adams, diary entry
- Monroe's greatest asset was his disarming, warm personality. Although conceding that Monroe lacked brilliance and a nimble mind, biographer Harry Ammon pointed out that he "had a rare ability of putting men at ease by his courtesy, his lack of condescension, his frankness, and by what his contemporaries looked upon as his essential goodness and kindness of heart." Monroe at least partially overcame an early shyness but remained markedly low-key and reserved, especially among strangers. Acutely sensitive to criticism, he at times took offense where none was intended. Rather than lash back at his critics, however, he usually bottled up his feelings. "Operating as he did with such an elevated sense of his own integrity," Ammon has written, "he could not easily adjust when old friends failed to approve his conduct."
- William A. DeGregorio, The Complete Book of U.S. Presidents (1984), p. 73