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he recorded a warm tribute to the patriotism, ability, and spotless integrity, of John Jay; and, in subsequent years, he expressed in warmest terms his perfect veneration for the character of George Washington.
Shortly after his return to this country, Col. Monroe was elected Governor of Virginia, and held that office for three years, -the period limited by the Constitution. In the year 1802, it was announced that Spain had ceded to France that vast territory, extending from the Mississippi to the Pacific, which was called Louisiana. Napoleon, then at the head of the armies of revolu tionary France, with "Liberté, Fraternité, Égalité," inscribed on their banners, was trampling down those despots who had banded. together to force back the execrated old régime of the Bourbons upon the emancipated empire. Most of our knowledge of what was transpiring on the continent of Europe came to us through the English press. Never had a story been more falsely told than that press had narrated, the struggle of the French people for equal rights, in the revolution and in the establishment of the empire.
The name of Bonaparte became a terror throughout the United States. Mothers frightened their disobedient children with the threat that Bonaparte would get them. It was proclaimed that the conqueror of Europe had only reserved us as his last victim; that, taking possession of this vast territory of Louisiana, and land- ing upon it countless legions of his triumphant veterans, he would sweep the country from New Orleans to Canada, establish his empire here, and trample our liberties in the dust. The writer of this well remembers his terror, when a child, in contemplation of this invasion by that Napoleonic monster whom we had been taught to regard as the embodiment of all evil.
Mr. Livingston was then our minister to France. He drew up a very able memorial to the First Consul, arguing that it would be for the true interest of both countries that France should cede the province of Louisiana to the United States. It was so manifest that the United States must have the control of the mouths of the Mississippi, through which alone the most majestic valley on our globe could have access to the ocean, that our most sagacious statsmen felt assured, that, if we could not obtain this province by treaty, it would inevitably involve us ere long in war.
Mr. Jefferson was then President. He was beloved in France.
The memory of James Monroe was cherished there with universal respect and affection. He was accordingly sent to co-operate with Chancellor Livingston, to endeavor to obtain by treaty, if possible, this vast possession. Their united efforts were successful. For the comparatively small sum of fifteen millions of dollars, though a very large one for us in those days, "the entire territory of Orleans, and district of Louisiana," were added to the United States. It has been truly said that this was probably the largest transfer of real estate which was ever made since Adam was presented with the fee-simple of Paradise. The country thus obtained was in extent equal to the whole previous territory of the Union. It is universally admitted that Mr. Monroe's influence was very prominent in this measure, and he ever regarded it as the most important of his public services. We have now such a territory in magnitude, and adaptation to human wants, as no other nation on this globe ever possessed.
From France, Mr. Monroe went to England to obtain from that government some recognition of our rights as neutrals, and to remonstrate against those odious impressments of our seamen which were fast rousing the indignation of the country to the highest pitch. But England was unrelenting. He then went to Spain, by way of Paris, where he saw Napoleon crowned. In Spain, he endeavored, though unavailingly, to adjust a controversy which had arisen respecting the eastern boundary of the territory, which that government had ceded to France, and France to us. Napoleon, in his cession, had copied the same words which Spain had used in conveying the territory to France.
Our relations with England were daily becoming more menacing. We would not willingly revive old griefs to perpetuate animosities we would gladly have past wrongs forgotten, that kindly sympathies may pervade the whole human brotherhood. But it is the duty of the biographer and the historian to hold up the errors of the past as a warning for the future. There is not a nation on this globe, savage or civilized, which regards with cordial friendship the British Government. For the last half-century, England has been the leading power among the nations. Her demeanor has been arrogant, haughty, and overbearing. The powerful have been repelled by her proud assumptions, and the weak have been trampled upon in undisguised contempt.
England is no longer the leading power in the world, and there are none who mourn to see her shorn of her strength.
Let America take warning. It is as important that a nation should have the good will of all surrounding powers as that an individual should be loved by his neighbors. Let us be courteous, obliging, and unselfish in our intercourse with the strong, and sympathetic, gentle, and helping to the weak. Let us try to prove the world's great benefactor, the friend and comforter of our brother man everywhere struggling beneath the heavy bur den of life.
England, despising our feeble navy, forbade our trading with France; and seized and confiscated mercilessly our merchant-ships bound to any port in France or Spain, wherever her cruisers could arrest them. Mr. Monroe again returned to England, almost in the character of a suppliant; for our Government was extremely averse to adopt any measures which could lead to war. The administration was even taunted with the declaration, that it "could not be kicked into a war." No redress could be obtained. Mr. Monroe returned to this country, bearing with him a treaty which was so very unsatisfactory, that the President was not willing to submit it to the Senate. Plundered merchants and ruined shipowners poured in upon Congress petitions and remonstrances, and there was a cry throughout the land that that government was recreant to its trust which did not protect its citizens from outrage.
At this time, Mr. Monroe, at the age of forty-eight, returned to his quiet home in Virginia, and with his wife and children, and an ample competence from his paternal estate, enjoyed a few years of domestic repose.
In the year 1809, Mr. Jefferson's second term of office expired. Many of the Republican party were anxious to nominate James Monroe as his successor. The majority were in favor of Mr. Madison. Mr. Jefferson also favored Mr. Madison, as being the more moderate man, and the more likely to carry the votes of the whole party. Mr. Monroe withdrew his name, and was soon after chosen a second time Governor of Virginia. He soon resigned that office to accept the position of Secretary of State, offered him by President Madison. The correspondence which he then carried on with the British Government demonstrated that there was no hope of any peaceful adjustment of our difficulties with
the cabinet of St. James. War was consequently declared in June, 1812. Immediately after the sack of Washington, the Secretary of War resigned; and Mr. Monroe, at the earnest request of Mr. Madison, assumed the additional duties of the War Department, without resigning his office of Secretary of State. It has been confidently stated, that, had Col. Monroe's energy been in the War Department a few months earlier, the disaster at Washington would not have occurred.
The duties now devolving upon Mr. Monroe were extremely arduous. Ten thousand men, picked from the veteran armies of England, were sent, with a powerful fleet, to New Orleans, to acquire possession of the mouths of the Mississippi. Our finances were in the most deplorable condition. The treasury was exhausted, and our credit gone; and yet it was necessary to make the most vigorous preparations to meet the foe. In this crisis, James Monroe, the Secretary of War, with virtue unsurpassed in Greek or Roman story, stepped forward, and pledged his own individual credit as subsidiary to that of the nation, and thus succeeded in placing the city of New Orleans in such a posture of defence, that it was enabled successfully to repel the invader.
Mr. Monroe was truly the armor-bearer of President Madison, and the most efficient business-man in his cabinet. His energy, in his double capacity of Secretary both of State and War, pervaded all the departments of the country. With the most singular unselfishness, regardless both of his private interests and his political popularity, he advocated every measure which in his judgment would aid in securing the triumph of his country. He proposed to increase the army to a hundred thousand men, a measure which he deemed absolutely necessary to save us from ignominious defeat, but which, at the same time, he knew would render his name so unpopular, as to preclude the possibility of his being a successful candidate for the presidency. He conversed freely with his friends upon the subject, and calmly decided to renounce all thoughts of the presidential chair, while he urged that conscription which would enter every dwelling in search of a soldier.
The happy result of the conference at Ghent in securing peace rendered the increase of the army unnecessary; but it is not too much to say, that James Monroe placed in the hands of Andrew Jackson the weapon with which he beat off the foe at New
Orleans. Upon the return of peace, Mr. Monroe resigned the Department of War, devoting himself exclusively to the duties of the Secretary of State. These he continued to discharge until the close of President Madison's administration, with zeal which never abated, and with an ardor of self-devotion which made him almost forgetful of the claims of fortune, health, or life.
Mr. Madison's second term of office expired in March, 1817; and Mr. Monroe, thoroughly acquainted with all the affairs of the nation, and perfectly versed in all the duties before him, succeeded to the presidency. He was the candidate of the Republican party, now taking the name of Democratic Republican; and was chosen by a large majority. There seemed to be for a time a lull in party strife. Mr. Monroe was a man of ability, at home in all statesmanlike duties, more familiar than perhaps any other person with our internal and foreign relations: he was a man of unblemished character, of honesty of purpose, and purity of patriotism which no man could question. A better choice could not have been made. His inaugural was conciliatory, and pleased all. The Constitution which he had opposed, wishing merely to introduce some amendments before it was adopted, he now admitted to be nearly perfect.
It has been said, happy is that nation which has no history; for history is but a record of revolutions and battles. There is but little to be recorded during the eight years in which President Monroe was at the head of the administration of our Government. They were years of prosperity and peace. In forming his cabinet, Mr. Monroe placed the Department of State in the hands of John Quincy Adams. Florida was purchased of Spain for five millions of dollars, by the exercise of that power which Mr. Monroe, in his inexperienced days, had been so reluctant to confer upon the General Government.
In June of 1817, President Monroe took a very extensive journey through the States, visiting all the fortifications. He was everywhere received with enthusiasm. He was conveyed up the Delaware from Wilmington to the navy-yard in Philadelphia in a barge of the "Franklin" (seventy-four). The barge was lined and trimmed with crimson velvet, and rowed by sixteen oarsmen, dressed in scarlet vests, white sleeves and trousers. The President wore a dark-blue coat, buff vest, doe-skin buff-colored breeches, and top-boots, with a military cocked-hat of the fashion of the