January 2016: Why Was President James Monroe the 18th-Century Forrest Gump?
The last president who is considered a Founding Father is James Monroe, the fifth president of the United States (1817-1825).
His image is depicted in many famous paintings from the Revolutionary War era — including the iconic image by German American artist Emanuel Gottlieb Leutze of George Washington crossing the Delaware.
Born in Westmoreland County, VA, Monroe was wounded in the Battle of Trenton, taking a musket ball in the shoulder. He served under Washington — and in fact is the only other president who was a soldier in the Revolutionary War.
We visited one of Monroe’s homes, Ash Lawn-Highland, in Albemarle County, VA, where we interviewed historian Cassandra Good, associate editor of the Papers of James Monroe at the University of Mary Washington.
Good (pictured right) explains how the former governor of Virginia rose to national prominence as a diplomat in France and eventually became president. We also learn more about the man who:
- Studied law under Thomas Jefferson — Monroe’s lifelong friend, mentor, and political ally,
- Served as a delegate in the Continental Congress, and
- Changed the direction of America’s foreign policy.
Scroll down for our Q&A with Good to find out why President Monroe was the Forrest Gump of the 18th century.
— Hope Katz Gibbs, executive producer, and David Bruce Smith, founder of the Grateful American™ Foundation, dedicated to restoring enthusiasm in American history for kids, and adults!