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Presidents' Places: James Monroe
James Monroe was quite a guy. He joined the army when the American Revolution began; in a few days he was General George Washington's right hand man, at age 20. He kept moving right up, through the presidencies of Washington, Adams, Jefferson, and Madison; then he himself became president. Thomas Jefferson himself designed Monroe's plantation, Highland (now sometimes called Ashlawn), and later designed his retirement home, Oak Hill (which I didn't get to visit).
James married Elizabeth when he was 27 and she was only 17. She, like her predecessor First Lady, Dolley Madison, was a beauty. She was the daughter of a British officer, but when she and James were stationed in France, she adopted the mannerisms of the French upper classes, and as First Lady established a regal protocol for social events at the White House -- "Queen Elizabeth," their political enemies called her.
By and large, James, although he was probably the best-prepared president we have ever had, did not live up to his promise as president, and didn't accomplish much. However, he was well-liked; his presidency became known as "The Era of Good Feelings." He ran unopposed for a second term, and won re-election with only one electoral vote against him.
Statue of James Monroe at Highland