Virtual Museum of Art | Virtual Museum of History | Virtual Public Library | Virtual Science Center | Virtual Museum of Natural History | Virtual War Museum



2001 James Monroe Scholarship Award Winner

1st Place

Robert Lalka

Roanoke, Virginia


George Washington. John Adams. Thomas Jefferson. James Madison. James… James…Monroe? Yes, yes…the Monroe Doctrine. Sure…of course. It was Monroe that led the way to limiting further colonization in America by European powers! It was Monroe that proclaimed the isolation of the Western Hemisphere from the rest of the world so that the United States would have time to grow and develop! Where would we be without the Monroe Doctrine?

While most Americans solely remember James Monroe for his successful declaration about detachment from Europe, the true Monroe Doctrine is not merely a concept about foreign policy. Rather, the doctrine that drove James Monroe was one that was based on honesty, ambitious courage, and modesty. , These values transcend time, and today, they are James Monroe's message for the new millennium.

"Monroe is so honest that if you turned his soul inside out, there would be no spot upon it." iii Thomas Jefferson, Monroe's predecessor and mentor, spoke words that were true about all of James Monroe's life. Like a resounding echo that reverberates throughout all of Monroe's days, Jefferson's words sum up one of Monroe's most crucial merits: his honesty. In everything he did, James Monroe tried to express the necessity of honesty in both the people's government and in their lives. iii In his first address to the nation as President, Madison stated that

"[i]t is only when the people become ignorant and corrupt, when they degenerate into a populace, that they are incapable of exercising the sovereignty…The people themselves become the willing instruments of their own debasement and ruin. Let us, then, look to the great cause, and endeavor to preserve it in full force."

James Monroe thought that the honor of all people was necessary to create and maintain a prosperous nation. In order to have the strongest nation, the people would have to act as the solid foundation on which it would stand. Moreover, that foundation would have to be made of the best material in order to be stable. During a later part of his First Inaugural Address, Monroe expressed this idea by stating that "[n]ational honor is national property of the highest value. The sentiment in the mind of every citizen is national strength. It ought therefore to be cherished."iv Monroe's message for the American people of yesteryear is the same proclamation to preserve the morality for the world today. Just as Monroe called for the betterment national honor so many years ago, the Monroe in the new millennium also calls for such a goal. If we model ourselves after the great Monroe's honesty, then we will find ourselves living lives which are brimming with truth and fairness.

In addition to his honesty, James Monroe was also incredibly courageous. In all probability, this boldness stemmed from the time he spent in the military. Monroe was not only disciplined and diligent, he was also very ambitious in his military endeavors. George Washington, a man who rarely spoke kindly of those in his army, stated that Monroe "has, in every instance, maintained the reputation of a brave, active, and sensible officer." Monroe met many challenges, and he did not succeed in all of them. In one instance, Monroe was assigned as the Virginia military commissioner, and he met utter failure in his attempt to recruit soldiers from his home state. For many, this would have meant the end of a career, but for Monroe, it was only the beginning. Lieutenant-colonel Monroe used this time to study law, and he seized the chance to become a student of then-Governor Thomas Jefferson.iii Repeatedly, those around him would dub him a failure, but Monroe would always rebound, more determined and confident than ever. James Monroe never lost his focus; it was this resiliency and persistence that afforded Monroe the opportunities which he had later in life. Truly, our nation's fifth President's early career reveals his courageous character; it was this attribute that made him such an excellent leader. In his First Inaugural Address, Monroe stated "[f]rom a just responsibility I will never shrink, calculating with confidence that in my best efforts to promote the public welfare my motives will always be duly appreciated and my conduct be viewed with that candor and indulgence which I have experienced in other stations."iv Throughout his two terms of office, James Monroe was true to this pledge that he made to the American people in 1821, and these very same words speak to us today. To the world of the new millennium, James Monroe's example of courage impels us to work hard, maintaining our focus all the while. By boldly moving into the future, mankind will accomplish the unimaginable, finding hope in the audacity which is exemplified by James Monroe.

While James Monroe was daring, it is important to note that he was also very modest. This combination of ambition and humility made Monroe excel in life; the intricate balance between the two made Monroe both an excellent, bold leader and an ever-mindful servant.. James Monroe never forgot his humble beginnings as a youth in Virginia, for his upbringing formed Monroe into the man he was. Monroe was the son of a planter and the oldest of five children, young James was dealt much responsibility very early on in life. Through helping with the crops or aiding in the family affairs, Monroe learned to appreciate both the good and the bad aspects of life. Monroe's background gave him a unique perspective on the world, and as he grew older, he clung to his humble roots for guidance. His beginnings would serve him well when he entered into positions of power, as, unlike many of those who have been called leaders, Monroe recognized the importance of being a public servant. In his Second Inaugural Address, Monroe proclaimed that

"In this great nation there is but one order, that of the people, whose power, by a peculiarly happy improvement of the representative principle, is transferred from them, without impairing in the slightest degree their sovereignty, to bodies of their own creation, and to persons elected by themselves, in the full extent necessary for all the purposes of free, enlightened and efficient government."

Truly, Monroe understood what it meant to be a great leader. By putting the will of the people before his own interests, Monroe realized what many leaders fail to recognize: one who leads must first know how to follow. It is this realization that sets Monroe apart from many U.S. Presidents, and it is the underlying principle behind this belief which speaks to society today. Monroe once addressed the American people with the following creed: "[t]o promote this harmony in accord with the principles of our republican Government and in a manner to give them the most complete effect, and to advance in all other respects the best interests of our Union, will be the object of my constant and zealous exertions."iv Monroe's vision of benevolence has endured through the years; today, following Monroe's example of humility and sacrifice can lead to a more fulfilling life for each and every one of us. In the twenty-first century, it is essential for the entire world to realize the benevolence of Monroe's message; only through humbleness and charity will the world thrive in the new millennium.

In this age of international business and active involvement in foreign affairs, the declaration of separation which Monroe so resolutely delivered to a fledgling nation has become increasingly less applicable. However, as the Monroe Doctrine has lost significance, Monroe's message to all generations remains undeviating. By striving for honesty, courage, and modesty in the new millennium, the world can find true improvement. In making Monroe's vision for moral success in his life our vision for success in each and every one of our lives, the progress of the world will be accompanied by the true satisfaction of righteousness. Under the banner of the values in which Monroe believed so firmly, a new Era of Good Feelings will be ushered in, with the expectant people of all lands having confidence in the future of all of mankind. Unlike the Monroe Doctrine delivered more than two-hundred years ago, Monroe's vision for the twenty-first century will unite citizens of all nations, proclaiming hope through values, declaring the message for all millennia. Let us press forward in the direction of Monroe's message, and, just as the great Virginian himself stated, "we can not fail, under the favor of a gracious Providence, to attain the high destiny which seems to await us".iv

"James Monroe". Online. Internet. 5 March 2001.<>.

"James Monroe". Online. Internet. 5 March 2001. <>.

McConnell, Burt and Jane McConnell. Presidents of the United States. New York: Thomas Y. Crowell Company, 1970. "First Inaugural Address of James Monroe". Online. Internet. 14 March 2001. <>.

Cooper, John S. "James Monroe: The Last Revolutionary President". Online. Internet. 11 March 2001. <>.

Hickey, Donald R. "Monroe, James". Online. Internet. 10 March 2001. <>.

"Encyclopedia Americana: James Monroe". Online. Internet. 10 March 2001.

Ferris, Robert C., ed. The Presidents. Washington, D.C.: United States Department of the Interior, 1977. "Second Inaugural Address of James Monroe". Online. Internet. 14 March 2001. <>.




Copyright© 2000 by Evisum Inc.TM. All rights reserved.
Evisum Inc.TM Privacy Policy


About Us




Virtual Museum of Art | Virtual Museum of History | Virtual Public Library | Virtual Science Center | Virtual Museum of Natural History | Virtual War Museum