Saturday, June 11, 2016

First Lady Profile #10~Elizabeth Monroe

Mrs. Monroe is an elegant, accomplished woman.  She possesses a charming mind and dignity of manners.~A Washington Paper in 1817

One of the guests, Auguste Levasseur, was taken by the First lady's charm, wit and beauty, despite her fifty-six years.~James E. Wootton
-I couldn't find any books written specifically about Elizabeth Monroe, the closest I got was a pamphlet written by a curator at the Ash Lawn home, James E. Wootton.  The reason:
Little is known of her personal insights into the remarkable life that she led as, according to family tradition, she burned her correspondence prior to her death.~The Papers of James Monroe
-Elizabeth was born on June 30, 1768 in New York City to a wealthy family.  She married James Monroe when she was 17 and he was 27, on February 16, 1786.
-They had 3 children, a boy named James Spence who died at age 2, and two girls--Eliza Hey and Maria Hester.  Maria would later get married in the White House.
-In 1794, President George Washington sent James Monroe to Paris to be U.S. Minister to France.  During their time there, both James and Elizabeth learned French and adopted many French customs.
-Elizabeth became a heroine when she helped get Madame de Lafayette released from a French prison.  The french gave her the name, La Belle Americaine (The American Beauty).
-In 1817, James Monroe was elected the 5th President of the United States.   His presidency was described as the "era of good feelings".
-Dolley Madison had just finished being the White House hostess for 16 years, she had been very popular and it would've been hard for anyone to follow her.
-Elizabeth refused to make excessive social calls and didn't attend public functions due to her health issues (headaches and possible epilepsy).  She also was "fiercely independent and seemingly unconcerned with conforming to public expectations."
-The public didn't know about her health issues and judged her as cold and aloof.  They were also critical of her and the President purchasing most of the White House furniture from France.  They nicknamed her "Queen Elizabeth".
It is a remark, which it would be unpardonable to withhold, that it was improbable for any female to have fulfilled all the duties of the partner of such cares, and of a wife and parent, with more attention, delicacy and propriety than she has done.~James Monroe 
-Yet, Daniel Preston says, "if she were to be compared to any contemporary first lady it would be Jackie Kennedy.  She brought a sense of style and elegance to the White House".
-Her husband valued her highly and said that she was his "partner in all things".  She was very literate and articulate and an advisor to him.
-She died in 1830 at their Oak Hill home in Virginia.

First Lady Links:
-National First Ladies Library
-C-Span Series on First Ladies

My Elizabeth Monroe Books:
-First Ladies: Presidential Historians on the Lives of 45 Iconic American Women--Susan Swain C-Span
-America's First Ladies--Diana Dixon Healy
-First Ladies--Betty Boyd Caroli
-First Ladies of the White House--Nancy J. Skarmeas
-Elizabeth Kortright Monroe--James E. Wootton

Reference Material that I checked out from the library:
-First Ladies: A Biographical Dictionary--Dorothy Schneider
-NPR American Chronicles: First Ladies--Cokie Roberts
-Faith of the First Ladies--Jerry MacGregor

Previous Profiles:
-Martha Washington
-Abigail Adams 
-Dolley Madison
-Louisa Adams
-Julia Grant
-Lucretia Garfield
-Frances Cleveland
-Edith Roosevelt
-Eleanor Roosevelt

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