Monday, April 28, 2008

Happy Birthday, James Monroe

Today marks the birthday of the fifth President of the United States -- James Monroe. President Monroe's signal accomplishment was the issuance of the Monroe Doctrine (a document that bears his name, but was actually authored by his Secretary of State, John Quincy Adams).

Monroe is also noteworthy for helping expose Alexander Hamilton's adulterous scandal with James Reynolds and (more commendably) being one of the only soldiers wounded at the pivotal battle at Trenton.

What do you think of Monroe's legacy?


Lori Stokes said...

Monroe is tricky, because while he was the person who came up with the plan to have the House be represented according to state population while the Senate had two reps from each state, which compromise saved the Constitutional Convention from collapsing, he's also the guy who made sure the southern states would leave the union if slavery was abolished.

So I have pretty mixed feelings about Monroe.

I'm also pretty sure Alexander Hamilton did not have a scandalous affair with James Reynolds. (!)

Hercules Mulligan said...

Hang on, I don't think Monroe was at the Constitutional Convention. It was Roger Sherman (delegate to the Convention from CT) who came up with this idea about the House and the Senate, and saved the Convention from collapse. That is why this compromise, "The Great Compromise," is also called the "Connecticut Compromise."

As for Monroe's legacy... I too have mixed feelings. He didn't even create the Monroe Doctrine for which he is famous -- Washington and Hamilton, his opponents, were the ones who invented the idea of the US being sovereign over its own territory, etc., although they did not dream of international empire.