James Monroe   (1758-1831)

By John Vanderlyn, 1816. National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution

Fifth President, 1817-1825

The last patriot of the Revolutionary era to become president, Monroe was elected at a time when the nation was at peace. His presidency was called the "Era of Good Feelings," yet the economic depression of 1819 and ongoing debates about the extension of slavery to new states and territories belied the name. Monroe is best remembered for his declaration that the United States would behave unfavorably toward European countries that tried to interfere with North and South American affairs, warning against any attempts by European powers to establish colonies in America. This pronouncement is now known as "The Monroe Doctrine."