American Culture: James Monroe Mini Biography
James Monroe was the last American president of the “Virginia Dynasty,” so named because four of the first five presidents were from Virginia. He was born on April 28, 1758, in Westmoreland County, Virginia, to Spence Monroe and Elizabeth Jones Monroe. Spence was a moderately prosperous planter and carpenter whose family emigrated from Scotland in the mid-1600s. First tutored by his mother at home, James attended Campbelltown Academy between 1769 and 1774, and was an excellent student.
As the eldest of several children, James was expected to inherit his father’s estate, but the events of 1774 turned his life in new directions. His father died that year, and young James soon enrolled at Virginia’s College of William & Mary with intentions of studying law, but dropped out just months later to fight in the American Revolution. His first act of rebellion was to join several classmates and raid the arsenal of the British royal governor, escaping with weapons and supplies that they turned over to the Virginia militia. He soon joined the Continental Army, becoming an officer in 1776, and was part of General George Washington’s army at the Battle of Trenton, where he was severely wounded.