Our first five presidents considered themselves “`caretakers” of the new republic, not politicians. What do you understand they meant by this statement? With what you remember about American history, how would you compare the future presidents to these men? The first five presidents of the United States of America – Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Madison, and Monroe – were true innovators in the craft of statesmanship in the newly created country they were elected to lead.
The primary concerns of these leaders of the land was the survival of the country they’d all helped to piece together from a cluster of colonies that had been largely controlled by those in the Old World through puppet governors in the New World. In making their primary concern the country rather than their position within the company, they transcended political games as they were waged in the Old World – very similar to the types of games still played by politicians today – and truly made those decisions they thought best for the United States.
These decisions were not always the most popular choice – in fact, the Bill of Rights, authored by James Madison during his tenure in the House of Representatives – were meant to be an appeasement to those influential citizens who were unhappy with the omission of certain enumerated rights in the Constitution. In the time that has gone by since the first five presidencies in the United States of America, the behavior and leadership styles of the next 38 Commanders in Chief have changed drastically.
The prevailing change is that in leadership, with the use of position power being more preeminent that the use of personal power. Whereas the first five presidents influence the new nation to good based on their own personal reputations and histories, those that followed instead exerted the power afforded by their election to the presidency to influence. A lot of the differences in style can be attributed to the turmoil that surrounded their presidencies.
Those presidents that followed after the first five who were most similar in behavior and leadership style were the ones who lead in other times of turmoil: Lincoln during the Civil War, Wilson during World War I, FDR during World War II, Reagan during the end stages of the Cold War and perhaps Bush after the terrorist attacks of September 11th. Because these future leaders had inherited a largely stabilized nation, however, they could concentrate more on political concerns rather than caretaking of a nation. Provide a brief history of James Monroe before he was president. Focus primarily on his accomplishments.
James Monroe, who would become the fifth president of the United States of America, had a long and distinguished career as a scholar, a soldier, a lawyer and a statesman prior to his election to the highest office in the land. He attended the College of William and Mary in Virginia before going on to fight “with distinction” during the Revolutionary War. Upon the successful conclusion of this historic conflict, Monroe went on to become a successful lawyer in Fredericksburg, Virginia. Although Monroe dropped out of his studies at the College of William and Mary, he did so with the intent of joining the fight of the Revolutionary War.
His leadership skills and abilities as a soldier led him to rise swiftly to the rank of major. He fought with George Washington in the Battle of Trenton, after crossing the Delaware by his side, and went on to serve as aide-de-camp for Lord Stirling as the Continental Army settled in for the winter at Valley Forge. After two years of distinguished service, he resigned his commission in 1778 and went on to become the Military Commissioner for the Commonwealth of Virginia as an appointee of Governor Thomas Jefferson.
Monroe used his position as Military Commissioner to launch his career as a statesman, -going on to serve in the Virginia Assembly from 1782-1783 and the Continental Congress from 1783-1786. After practicing law in private practice from 1786-1790, he was elected as a Senator from Virginia, serving from 1790-1794. Expanding upon his statesmanship abilities, he was sent by Washington as a Foreign Minister to France for two years before returning to serve as Governor of Virginia and later negotiator of the Louisiana Purchase, Foreign Minister to England, Secretary of State and Secretary of War.
Explain the economic, political, and social atmosphere of the country at the time James Monroe was president. Under the leadership of the first four Presidents of the United States of America, the country was on much more even ground than just after the end of the Revolutionary War. During the period of time that James Monroe served as President, the country was experiencing what would be called the “Era of Good Feelings”. This even-keeled time was largely due to a sense of cooperation among the politicians elected to lead the country and a lack of partisan political feelings.
Monroe ran largely unopposed in his first election and entirely unopposed in his second. Although the financial status of the country was relatively good when Monroe assumed the presidency, the United States experienced its first period of economic depression from 1819-1921. This caused panic among many, but as a result of Monroe’s leadership ability, order was restored in short order, as well as faith in the financial system. Socially, society was settling into more readily identifying themselves as members of the United States as a country, rather than as citizens of their particular state or of the a country in the Old World.