Changing Scholarship: Reconsidering Eliza Monroe’s Birthplace

Changing Scholarship: Reconsidering Eliza Monroe's Birthplace A recent review of a previously unknown manuscript has prompted a reconsideration of earlier scholarship regarding the birthplace of Eliza Monroe Hay. Her birth in early December 1786 had originally been understood to have occurred in Fredericksburg, but evidence now supports that she was instead born in King George County, likely at the farm of James Monroe's maternal uncle, Judge Joseph Jones. James Monroe met Elizabeth Kortright in New York during his service in Congress in 1785. They married in February the following year. Following the completion of his third Congressional term, Monroe proposed to move to Virginia with the intent of establishing a law practice, but vacillated between Richmond or Fredericksburg.[1] He was aided in this decision by Joseph Jones, a paternalistic figure to him, who counseled him regarding the saturated nature of the legal field and high cost of living in Richmond.[2] Alternatively, and … [Read more...]

In Memoriam—Marlena DeLong

In Memoriam—Marlena DeLong The staff of the Papers of James Monroe acknowledge with regret the recent passing of their longtime colleague Marlena DeLong. An assistant editor from 2000 to 2010, Marlena contributed to the preparation for publication of the first four volumes of the series. An obituary can be found in the Salt Lake Tribune. … [Read more...]

“Mr Monroe’s dying request”

“Mr Monroe’s dying request” By Bob Karachuk Assistant Editor, Papers of James Monroe   James Monroe died in New York City at the home of his younger daughter and her husband, Maria and Samuel Gouverneur, on Monday, July 4, 1831, at half past three in the afternoon. Although Monroe experienced an “easy death,” his decline was long and slow and unremitting. Nine-and-a-half months before his death, Monroe, in good if tender health, was dealt a blow that knocked him prostrate: On September 23, 1830, his wife, Elizabeth Monroe, died suddenly at Oak Hill, their plantation home in Loudon County, Virginia. Monroe was left in such distress by the loss of his wife that Maria Gouverneur and her sister, Eliza Hay, considered it unwise for their father to continue living at Oak Hill. Monroe moved to New York to live with the Gouverneurs in October. By the end of December, Monroe was too ill to leave his room. An incessant cough prevented him from resting properly. He grew weaker … [Read more...]

French Imposters, Diplomatic Double Speak, and Buried Archival Treasures

By Cassandra Good, Associate Editor of the Papers of James Monroe (This content originally appeared as a guest post on The Junto) The latest volume of The Papers of James Monroe covers a short but important period in Monroe’s life and career: April 1811 to March 1814. Monroe became Secretary of State in April 1811 and was tasked with trying to repair relations with both Great Britain and France. After war with Britain began in June 1812, his focus broadened to military affairs and included a stint as interim Secretary of War. The bulk of the volume, then, is focused on the War of 1812. However, there are a number of other stories revealed here that will be of interest to a range of historians.   To begin: what new information does the volume reveal about the War of 1812? We know that impressment was a key bone of contention with the British, but these documents suggest it played a bigger role in selling the war than in actually causing it. The correspondence with … [Read more...]

The Near-Duel Between James Monroe and Alexander Hamilton

By Cassandra Good, Associate Editor, Papers of James Monroe While Alexander Hamilton’s fatal duel with Aaron Burr in 1804 is well-known, Hamilton also came close to dueling with James Monroe several years earlier. The correspondence relating to this incident, part of a larger controversy historians call the Reynolds Affair, is published in volumes 3 & 4 of the Papers of James Monroe. In 1792, while serving as senator from Virginia, Monroe was on a committee with Frederick Muhlenberg, speaker of the House of Representatives, and Abraham Venable, a Virginia congressmen, to investigate charges of financial malfeasance against Alexander Hamilton. The committee met with the accusers, Muhlenberg’s clerk Jacob Clingman and a New York speculator named James Reynolds, to get their testimonies. When the committee met with Hamilton, he revealed that he was innocent of these charges and that his financial involvement with Reynolds was in fact to cover up an affair with Reynolds’ wife, … [Read more...]