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James Monroe was the fifth president of the United States.
1. In 1776 James Monroe left his studies at William & Mary to enlist in the 3rd Virginia Regiment. During the Revolutionary War, he served under General George Washington, fought in several major battles in the northeast, was wounded at the Battle of Trenton—from which he carried shrapnel in his shoulder for the rest of his life—and wintered at Valley Forge, eventually reaching the rank of Colonel in the Virginia service.
2. Monroe moved to Albemarle County, Virginia to be near his friend and mentor, Thomas Jefferson.
3. Monroe and his wife, Elizabeth Kortright Monroe, had a particularly close relationship. Their warm family life is illustrated by his wife and two daughters, Eliza and Maria, accompanying Monroe on nearly all his official travel, including diplomatic assignments in France and Great Britain.
4. Monroe had a strong interest in the American west and its importance to the growing United States. Not widely known is his significant role in the negotiation of the Louisiana Purchase for the Jefferson administration. In 1803, Thomas Jefferson sent him to France to assist Robert Livingston with the negotiation for the port of New Orleans, telling Monroe “All eyes, all hopes, are now fixed on you.” Finding Napoleon strapped for cash and willing to sell the entirety of the Louisiana Territory, Monroe took advantage of a deal that would double the size of the nation.
5. As Envoy to Spain, Monroe took the journey by mule from Paris to Madrid to negotiate with Spain for the Floridas. The negotiations trip was ultimately unsuccessful. Fifteen years later, Monroe was eventually able to oversee the peaceful acquisition of the Florida territory during his first presidential term when he signed the Adams-Onis Treaty in 1819.
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