James Monroe and the “Era of Good Feelings”

Luke Fraley, Journalist

James Spence Monroe was born in Westmoreland County, Virginia, in April 28, 1758. He served as one of the founding fathers and as the fifth President of the United States. He obviously holds an important place to our country given the fact that both our county and the local high school is named after him. He did some incredible things as the last living founding father: he crossed the Delaware with George Washington, served as Secretary of State and Secretary of War at the same time during the War of 1812, served two terms of a successful presidency, created the Monroe Doctrine, and much more. One thing that made him different was the way he attempted to run his presidency without relying on political parties.

Jame Monroe was an anti-Federalist during his whole political life, just like his mentor Thomas Jefferson. As he began his political life and later ran for president he was a founding member of the Democratic-Republicans, which in other words was a reformed anti-Federalist party. They had beliefs such as smaller government and no national banks. Before 1812 there was a bitterness between the two parties, but after the war people began to side with the Democratic-Republicans, resulting in James Monroe’s landslide wins in 1816 and 1820 (when he ran unopposed). Even though he belonged to a party he worked at eliminating parties in national politics. He did eliminate the partisan bickering between parties, resulting in the ¨Era of Good Feelings,¨ in which America felt united once again.

James Monroe left a legacy behind and helped form this country to what it is now. The question is, though, did his attempt to build a government without parties work? There are both sides to this question: on one side the country finally got along and had a smooth eight years. On the other hand many historians said he struggled to rely on anybody loyal because once he decided to not run for a third term as President (which was legal at the time) everyone went back to being partisan to try to replace him. Maybe one day we will have the same type of government that James Monroe had, because according to him,¨The best form of government is that which is most likely to prevent the greatest sum of evil.¨