The Last Founding Father: James Monroe and a Nation's Call to Greatness

The Last Founding Father: James Monroe and a Nation's Call to Greatness

by Harlow Giles Unger

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The Last Founding Father: James Monroe and a Nation's Call to Greatness by Harlow Giles Unger

In This Cripping Biography, award-winning author Harlow Giles Unger reveals the epic story of James Monroe (1758-1831)-the last of America's Founding Fathers-who transformed a small, fragile nation beset by enemies into a powerful empire stretching "from sea to shining sea."

Emerging from the battlefields of the Revolutionary War a decorated soldier, Monroe went on to serve America as its first full-time politician-a member of Congress, minister to France and Britain, governor of Virginia, secretary of state, secretary of war, and, finally, fifth president of the United States. Monroe took command of a nation nearly bankrupt, its people divided, its borders under attack, and its capital in ashes after the British invasion in the War of 1812. During two formative terms he rebuilt national defenses, expanded the military, extended national boundaries, and startled the world by proclaiming the landmark Monroe Doctrine, closing the Americas to foreign incursions and colonization. His leadership ushered in an "Era of Good Feelings" never seen before or since in American history. A superb read based on stellar scholarship, The Last Founding Father sheds light not only on the remarkable life of Monroe, but on a key chapter in the story of America. The result is an action-filled history in the grand tradition.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780306819186
Publisher: Da Capo Press
Publication date: 09/28/2010
Edition description: First Trade Paper Edition
Pages: 400
Sales rank: 85,117
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

Acclaimed historian Harlow Giles Unger is a former Distinguished Visiting Fellow at George Washington's Mount Vernon. Named one of the nation's premier presidential biographers for his biography of James Monroe (The Last Founding Father), Unger is the author of twenty-four books, including eleven biographies of America's Founders and three histories of the early republic.

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations vii

Acknowledgements and Dedication ix

Chronology xi

Prologue 1

Chapter 1 "To Be Free…We Must Fight" 7

Chapter 2 "A Brave…and Sensible Officer" 25

Chapter 3 "I May Lose My Scalp" 41

Chapter 4 "A Most Interesting Connection" 61

Chapter 5 "A Subversion of Liberty" 77

Chapter 6 "One Continuous Scene of Riot" 91

Chapter 7 La Belle Américaine 109

Chapter 8 "Let Calumny Have Its Course" 129

Chapter 9 "To Prevent this Greatest of Evils" 143

Chapter 10 "Some Outrages Had Been Coomitted" 159

Chapter 11 "Nothing but Simple Justice" 177

Chapter 12 "To Repair an Injury" 195

Chapter 13 "We Have Met the Enemy…" 213

Chapter 14 "The Poor Capital…Crack'd and Broken" 237

Chapter 15 The "Era of Good Feelings" 261

Chapter 16 "Embroidered with Gold" 277

Chapter 17 "Winked Away by Compromise" 287

Chapter 18 A Momentous Decision 305

Chapter 19 Rejoice! 317

Chapter 20 "A Plain and Gentle Man" 333

Appendix 349

Notes 353

Bibliography 371

Index 377

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The Last Founding Father: James Monroe and a Nation's Call to Greatness 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 27 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Everyone should read about our forefathers and learn how our nation was born. Very well done. I learned some new facts.
Craigmeade More than 1 year ago
Historical presidential biographies, if well written, tend to spell bind me. This one did not fail. I felt invited into President Monroe's life in a rich and exciting way. I learned more about Monroe, his family, and his accomplishments than I ever did in history class. This book will not disappoint!
Ozarkian More than 1 year ago
One should not be surprised when reading history or biography to learn new things about men or events. What surprised me was how very little I actually knew either of James Monroe or his era. WOW!!! This book truly filled in some major gaps in my knowledge of both the Madison and the Monroe presidencies, the War of 1812, the Era of Good Feelings and enough other matters to make me want to know even more. James Monroe--what a man. His Revolutionary War exploits of heroism were enough to have made his life significant; but his efforts as both Secretary of State and interim Secretary of War (and practically de facto President)during the last 2 years of the Madison presidency) as chronicled in chapters 13 and 14 are alone worth the price of the book. The account of how his own enormous popularity and the genuine goodwill he generated caused an end of political party divisions by actually causing the end (or at least the suspension) of political parties themselves is beyond comprehension to the "modern mind" of this man. In the absence of a totalitarian or authoritarian personality to dominate the void left by the end of party-ism, personal factionalism of the most virulent kind ensued and resulted in the inevitable re-emergence of political parties. A gentleman, a hero, a visionary, a statesman, a patriot. Where are the likes of James Madison today when we so greatly need them?
ErikTheBigKMan More than 1 year ago
I have thoroughly enjoyed this single volume narrative of the life and especially the presidency of James Monroe. Having been on an early republic biographical kick for the past couple of months, I have knocked off R.N. Smith's Patriarch about Washington, R. Chernow's Alexander Hamilton (fantastic and exhaustive), E.P. Crapol's John Tyler, J. Meacham's American Lion, with W.R. Borneman's Polk waiting on the shelf. Unger's Monroe has been a wonderful read, but I wish that editors would do a better job of correcting copy before going to print. As I got to the end, on page 314, there is a glaring error as the narrative states that "On December 2, 1783, Monroe strode into Congress to deliver his seventh annual message to that body." Well, I do not know exactly what James Monroe was doing on December 2, 1783 (most likely, he was hanging out with fellow Virginian Thomas Jefferson because they had both been elected to Congress, but Monroe was broke and Jefferson had money), but he was certainly not addressing Congress as the President, since the excecutive branch did not yet exist and the only Congress was the Confederation Congress rapidly showing its inability to effectively deal with the issues of a new nation of sovereign states. However, on December 2, 1823, James Monroe was in fact the president and was addressing a joint session of the Senate and House of Representatives for the seventh time as the chief executive officer. I was so enjoying the narrative until this derailment over a simple editorial oversight in the chronology. Otherwise, an excellent book.
regina77004 More than 1 year ago
James Monroe, as the last founding father to serve in the White House truly does close an era of history. Unfortunatley both he and Elizabeth Monroe have been largely overlooked by history to our detriment since there is much to learn from this family. As a young man Monroe joined the revolutionary cause and fought bravely for this country, surviving a life threatening wound. Following in Washington's footsteps he didn't accept payment for his service. This would set the stage for a lifetime of financial sacrifice in his country's service. His political career included serving as a foreign diplomat, senator, and as a governor that forever changed the role of Governor of Virginia, and finally Preisdent of the United States. Unger portrays Monroe as an affable man who knew how to nurture relationships, queit until pushed by passion to act boldly even disregarding the Constitution at times, politically astute, a true unifer as he destroyed the two party political system for a time, and a visionary who successfully increased the land mass of the country and set forth the famous Monroe Doctrine. Elizabeth Monroe is portrayed as a fascinating, beautiful, highly educated and courageous woman. Thier marriage and dedication to each other rival John and Abigail Adams. Unger does an incredible job of completely telling the story of James Monroe and providing important details where they belong. For those who find biographies fraught with too much detail that will not be an issue here. Those who want a complete understanding of the subject will find it with Unger.
ZachWilliams More than 1 year ago
Unger is an underrated biographer. An executional book, that is absolutely worth reading. Mr. Monroe, one of the more forgotten founders, is certainly deserving of more acclaim. This wonderful book is at least a start.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great pesident
AaronF More than 1 year ago
After reading Mr Unger's book on Patrick Henry, this book about James Monroe failed to keep me as riveted. While The Last Founding Father was equally as informative and written in a compelling fashion, there were portions which were not so captivating. It was likely my lack of interest in some of the minutia which Mr Unger comprehensively describe; in spite of my view, the whole of this book was educational. Page after page, it is clear Mr Unger painstakingly researched and understood not only the man, James Monroe, but the political climate and events which influenced decisions and outcomes. In light of my reservation of this book, I will continue to purchase Mr Unger's books.
John_Repub More than 1 year ago
It is an excellent biography of James Monroe. The story is written in an exciting fashion and it is an easy read.
RussianInNYC More than 1 year ago
What a wonderfully written book!
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