Appointed by President James Madison
Early in 1811 a door opened, and a previously maligned diplomat was invited at long last to the grand stage. After a tentative dance relying on crafty letters and go-betweens, two powerful old friends were reunited. James Monroe—soldier, statesman, politician, diplomat—accepted the call to service by President James Madison and became secretary of state as the most tenuous diplomatic crisis yet confronted by a fledgling nation exhausted the avenues for peaceful resolution. From his service in this vaunted post, Monroe would go on to become the fifth president, the last of the “Virginia Dynasty” (whereby four of the first five presidents were from that state) and the third statesman whose service as secretary of state would help to launch him to the presidency (his own secretary of state, John Quincy Adams would follow suit). As president, Monroe would preside over many successful diplomatic negotiations and would issue the foreign policy doctrine that bears his name. More than any president before him, Monroe dedicated his life service to pursuing sound diplomatic relations between the United States, a nation he saw arise from the shadows of a colonial mother England, and the world powers of the time. His service as secretary of state, therefore, provides an excellent case study of American diplomacy.
James Monroe was born in Westmoreland County, Virginia, on April 28, 1758. Monroe's father, Spence Monroe, oversaw a farming plantation of some 500 acres, enough to qualify him as an esteemed plantation owner, though he was a basement resident of this social class. (By comparison, the renowned Washingtons owned upwards of 6,000 acres). The family traced its lineage to a Scotsman, Andrew Monroe, who had settled in the colony in 1650 and established a farming stead of about 200 acres. Monroe's mother was the former Elizabeth Jones, whose Welsh-born father had acquired land in King George County. Elizabeth Jones inherited a portion of the property.
Prior to Spence, the Monroe forebears had been unable to afford a college edu-cation for their children. James attended Campbell Academy starting at age 11,