President James Monroe

The Federalist party fell into disgrace after the War of 1812 because it had not supported the nation's efforts to win the war. In the election of 1816 the Republican candidate for President, James Monroe, defeated his Federalist opponent by a very large margin. In 1817 Monroe took office as our nation's fifth President.

Monroe, like his predecessors, had been active in politics and government throughout his life. Like Washington, Jefferson, and Madison, he was from Virginia. He had fought with distinction in the Revolutionary War and served in the Virginia legislature. In 1790 he was elected to the United States Senate from Virginia and served as minister to France from 1794-1796. Later, Monroe would use his ties to France to help negotiate the Louisiana Purchase. Monroe served as Secretary of State and, for a time, Secretary of War for James Madison, performing both duties at the same time!

The year after his election President Monroe toured New England, the stronghold of the Federalists. He was greeted everywhere by cheering crowds. More and more Americans, with a growing sense of national pride and patriotism, put their support behind the President.

In the presidential election of 1820 the Federalist party did not even name a candidate. President Monroe, running for a second term, received every electoral vote except one! Soon afterward the Federalist party disappeared. For a time, the Republicans were left as the only political party. For this reason, Monroe's presidency has been called the "Era of Good Feeling".

Adapted from Exploring Our Nation's History (Globe Book Company, 1984)

Video Review