James Monroe (1758-1831) was the fifth president of the United States. He was born on April 28, 1758, in Westmoreland County, Virginia. At the age of 16, he went to the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg but dropped out in 1776 to join the Continental Army. He fought in the American Revolutionary War for independence from Great Britain. He fought in many battles in New York, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey, where he was wounded at the Battle of Trenton. He was also with General George Washington at Valley Forge.
Monroe became good friends with Thomas Jefferson and started studying law under him. In 1793, he bought a farm near Jefferson’s place in Virginia.
In 1792, James Monroe, James Madison, and Thomas Jefferson joined forces to form the Democratic-Republican Party. The group opposed Alexander Hamilton and the Federalists who wanted to increase federal power.
President George Washington, in 1794, appointed Monroe as minister to France. He did well, but was released from his post in 1796.
He returned to politics in 1799 when President Jefferson asked his help with France. Monroe found out that French leader Napoleon Bonaparte wanted to sell the entire Louisiana Territory for $15 million. Monroe and the U.S. minister to France bought the land in the 1803 Louisiana Purchase. This doubled the size of the United States.
Monroe was sworn into office on March 4, 1817, as the fifth president of the United States. He also bought Florida from the Spanish for $5 million.
Monroe became the third president to pass away. He died on July 4 in 1831, following Thomas Jefferson and John Adams.