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The Obscure Originator of a Perennial Policy

June 14, 2018

Secretary of State is a demanding enough job, but when war came, this individual continued in that office and was also Secretary of War for a few months.  Only after the war concluded did he surrender the War Department portfolio.

Twice his state had honored him with the governorship.  He had also served them as U.S. Senator.  His résumé included military and diplomatic service.

He was elected President by a significant majority.  He was re-elected with 99.6% of the Electoral College vote.  Unlike most Presidents, he had a very successful second term.  Like two of his predecessors, he died on the 4th of July.

We know a lot about all his predecessors, but certain facts about him have escaped us.  When were his parents born?  What exactly were his religious beliefs?  How much of his success was due to luck and how much was due to political craft?

There are two phrases associated with his Presidency: one is an eponymous policy which persists to this day; the other pertains to the unusual national harmony that prevailed during his second term.

The war he saw to conclusion was the War of 1812.  His personal military service had been during the Revolution.  The state which elected him governor and U.S. Senator was Virginia.  The Era of Good Feeling, that period of national harmony that prevailed during his second term, did not last; but the foreign policy precept that bears his name has stood the test of time.  Most people know little about the man, but nearly everyone has heard of the Monroe Doctrine.

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