The Presidency of James Monroe

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Filled with new insights and fresh interpretations, this is the richest study yet published on the presidency of James Monroe, the last Revolutionary War hero to ascend to that august office.

Noble Cunningham's history of the fifth presidency (1817-25) shows a young nation beset by growing pains and led by a cautious politician who had neither the learning nor the intellect of Jefferson or Madison, but whose actions strengthened both the United States and the presidency itself.

Cunningham makes clear that the mislabelled "era of good feelings" had more than its share of crises, including those resulting from revolutions in Latin America, Spanish possession of Florida, the depression of 1819, and the controversy over slavery in Missouri.

Monroe, he shows, successfully defused these potentially explosive situations, most notably by negotiating the 1820 Missouri Compromise and announcing in 1823 what came to be known as the Monroe Doctrine, a document that still guides American policy in the western hemisphere.

Cunningham effectively places these actions within the context of Monroe's life and times and sheds new light on the inner workings of his cabinet and his relations with Congress. In addition, he features the prominent roles of two future presidents: John Quincy Adams as secretary of state and Andrew Jackson as the controversial general whose actions in the Seminole War created a headache for the administration.

Though substantially informed by previous scholarship, Cunningham writes largely from the abundant primary source materials of the era to provide an illuminating new look at a president and a nation on the brink of greatness.

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Editorial Reviews

Times Literary Supplement
A splendid account. Few historians have succeeded so well in grasping the relationship between the constitutional structures of the United States and the ebb and flow of day-to-day politics.
Library Journal
Cunningham (In Pursuit of Reason: The Life of Thomas Jefferson, LJ 5/1/87) contributes another welcome reference in this latest volume in the University Press of Kansas's presidential series. Monroe was the last U.S. president to fight in the Revolution and the last of the Virginia presidential dynasty. Cunningham's portrait of Monroe emerges against a backdrop of the national drama that unfolded as power shifted. The author covers the major domestic and foreign policy issues of the two-term (1816-24) president: the First Seminole War, the Missouri Compromise, and the Monroe Doctrine. The treatment of the cabinet and the Congress especially will be welcomed by presidential scholars. The author portrays Monroe as a cautious politician without the education and intellect of Jefferson and Madison, but he views both terms as successful. This is a realistic picture of a slave-owning president who disliked political parties and who struggled with burdens imposed by demands of the presidency, personal financial stress, and an ill wife. Scholars and presidential buffs alike will find this a useful volume.-William D. Pederson, Louisiana State Univ., Shreveport
A richly detailed biography of the president whose Monroe Doctrine continues to guide American policy to the present day. Cunningham history, U. of Missouri uses primary sources to portray Monroe, the last Revolutionary War hero to become president, as a cautious man whose policies helped to avoid disasters during the crises of his presidential term, including revolutions in Latin America, the Spanish possession of Florida, the 1819 depression, and Missouri's slavery controversies. The biography also highlights the inner workings of Monroe's cabinet, his relations with Congress, and the influences that future presidents John Quincy Adams and Andrew Jackson exerted on Monroe's administration. Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, Or.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780700607280
  • Publisher: University Press of Kansas
  • Publication date: 1/28/1996
  • Series: American Presidency Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 272
  • Sales rank: 852,248
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.75 (d)

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations



1. The Road to the Presidency

2. The Election of a President

3. First Months in Office

4. The New President and a New Congress

5. Andrew Jackson and the First Seminole War

6. Widening Horizons and Deepening Problems

7. The Missouri Compromise

8. Transition to a Second Term

9. Monroe as Chief Executive

10. Life in Monroe's Washington

11. The Monroe Doctrine

12. Domestic Concerns

13. Closing a Presidency

The End of an Era


Bibliographical Essay


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