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More to Love About President Monroe

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While your article on James Monroe was generally excellent ("The Forgotten President," Cover Story, April 16) there are three more salient points about President Monroe that make him particularly noteworthy:

1. James Monroe came from a middle-class background, in contrast to other early Virginia leaders. While Abraham Lincoln is often portrayed as the first president to rise from humble circumstances, Monroe deserves that distinction. His father was a carpenter and small farmer, and Monroe grew up in a small farmhouse in Westmoreland County (which is now being restored by the James Monroe Memorial Foundation). He was able to rise to prominence based on his ability, despite lacking any personal wealth (and died a relatively poor man after a long life of public service).

2. Monroe's Revolutionary War career was remarkable, commencing with his role as a William and Mary student in seizing the Governor's Palace in Williamsburg to obtain arms for the local militia. Joining the Continental Line as a cadet, he rose to the rank of major and fought in six major battles, crossed the Delaware in an advance party for George Washington, was seriously wounded at Trenton in charging Hessian cannon, was praised by Washington for his bravery, wintered at Valley Forge, eventually served as a lieutenant colonel in the Virginia military, assisted Gov. Thomas Jefferson in diplomatic missions and established a military relay system into North Carolina. Monroe was the only president to serve in the regular army during the Revolutionary War, apart from George Washington.

3. Monroe was the first president to declare that rights of national self-determination belonged to all people, not just residents of the United States. He called for the independence of Greece (then under Ottoman rule) and in the Monroe Doctrine declared that the United States would seek to protect the rights of independent nations in the Western Hemisphere to self-determination, free from European domination. The Monroe Doctrine still stands as the cornerstone of American foreign policy today.

Please remind your readers of these three additional reasons as to why this remarkable man should not be forgotten.

Peter E. Broadbent Jr.
Richmond





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