tv The Presidency James Monroes Life Legacy CSPAN April 5, 2021 12:27pm-1:15pm EDT
people, the idea of the white savior is often still central to the narrative. watch tonight at 8:00 p.m. eastern and enjoy american history tv every weekend on c-span3. next on american history tv, historian scott harris talks about james monroe's life. we hear about the fifth president's revolutionary war service, his path to the presidency and the monroe doctrine that carries his name. mr. harris is director of the james monroe museum and memorial library. the mosby heritage association hosted this 45-minute event in leesburg, virginia, which was part of a symposium called james monroe presidential inauguration, a bicentennial commemoration and reflection. >> our first speaker we're honored and privileged to have is scott harris, who is director
of the james monroe museum and memorial library and has been as such since july of 2011. this museum is operated by the university of mary washington in fredericksburg and it's the largest repository in the country for artifacts and documents related to the fifth president of the united states. previously scott was the director of the new market battlefield state historical park owned by vmi. and previous to that director of historic resources for the city of manassas. he received his ba with honors from university of mary washington and holds a masters degree from the college of william and mary. mr. harris. [ applause ]
>> well, i'm not going to drop the mic but i am going to lower it gently to the ground. there. thank you very much and good morning. oh, come on. good morning. >> good morning. >> if you will turn in your hymnals to number 61 -- oh, no, that's tomorrow. sorry. [ laughter ] i couldn't resist. i was talking about that earlier. i thought, why not and try. it is a pleasure to be here. if i may take the chance in a house of worship to say to spread the gospel of james monroe as my colleagues also will be doing today. any time that we have the opportunity to help raise awareness of the man that i like to call the hardest working president in show business we like to do so. so it's a real treat to be here today to do that. one of the iconic images of the revolutionary war is emmanuel's
gottlieb's painting washington crossing the delaware. it's the night of december 25, 1776. the continental army is being transported across the river to trenton, new jersey, some nine miles to the south. in the foreground, anonymous men and possibly one woman of varying nationalities and races, row an overloaded boat across the river pushing great slabs of ice out of the way. two of the boat's occupants are not anonymous. georgia washington standing resolutely near the bow and young lieutenant monroe holding the stars and strikes, james monroe. his painting is glorious and wrong in almost every detail. the river resembles the rhine more than the delaware. the boat is too small and of an inaccurate design. there is too much light for what was a night crossing. washington did not cross standing up.
the stars and stripes have not been adopted by the continental congress and james monroe was not holding a flag, not in the boat, not even present with the army. he was already across the river. and he was busy. washington's plan was a risky attempt to reverse the sagging fortunes of the patriot cause. during the summer of 1776 british forces including hechen mess naers had driven the continental army from new york into new jersey and bucks county, pennsylvania. enlistment and desertion had thinned the american ranks and many of those who remained were despondent. washington gambled at a successful attack against an isolated british outpost would boost the army's morale and stiffen the resolve of congress and the people. three hechen regiments comprised of 1400 men were stationed at trenton. washington planned to bring 2,400 continental soldiers across the river overnight at
maconke's ferry and attack at dawn. two other elements of the army were part of the plan, but they did not make it into the operation. the bad weather that occurred stopped both of those deployments, meaning that everything would depend on the main body's effort under washington and the army's password for the evening was victory or death. washington's plan included sending a small detachment of troops over the delaware first to secure the army's route of march. james monroe was with this contingent. in his autobiography, which he wrote in the third person late in life and actually did not complete before his death, monroe described the missional command of the vanguard of 50 men was given to captain washington. lieutenant monroe gave his service under him. on the 25th of december, 1776, they passed the delaware in
front of the army in the dusk of the evening at macon i can's ferry ten miles above trenton and hastened to a point 1 1/2 miles from it, above which the road enter seconded which led from trenton to princeton for obedience of orders cutting off all communication from them in the country to trenton. mr. monroe can be guilty of a run-on sentence every now and then. monroe noted that the night was temp pet yous and snow was falling. while manning their posts, the detachment was accosted by a local regiment who thought the troops were british troops. monroe recalled that the man, whose name was john riker, was, quote, determined in his manner and very profane. upon learning that the soldiers were americans, he brought food from his house and said to monroe, i know something is to be done and i am going with you.
id am a doctor and i may help some poor fellow. dr. riker proved remarkably precient. it took longer than planned meaning the attack would occur well after sunup. outside the town washington divided his force sending a division commanded by nathanial green to attack from the north and the other led by john s. sullivan to attack from the south. at 8:00 a.m. the assault began and we return to monroe's account from his autobiography. captain washington then moved forward with the vanguard in front and attacked the enemy picket, shot down the commanding officer and drove it before him. a general alarm then took place among the troops in town. the drones were beat to arms and two cannon were placed in the main street to bear on the head of our column as it entered. captain washington rushed forward, attacked and put the troops around the cannon to flight and took possession of them. moving on afterwards, he
received a severe wound and was taken from the field. the command then devolved upon lieutenant monroe who attacked in like manner at the head of the corps and was shot down by a muss kel ball which passed through his breast and shoulder. he was also carried from the field. monroe was brought to the same room where william washington lay and their wounds were dressed by the army surgeon general and dr. john riker. dr. riker repaired a damaged artery in monroe's shoulder. what neither man knew at the time is the surgeon saved the life of the future president. it shows monroe before being taken to the dressing station. the best commentary upon james monroe's service at trenton comes from no less than authority than the couldn't
neblgts army's commander. writing to an acquaintance in 1779 washington noted monroe's zeal he discovered by entering the service at an early period, the character he supported in his regiment and the manner in which he distinguished himself at trenton where he received a wound. the general concluded james monroe had in every instance maintained the reputation of a brave, active and sensible officer. the american revolution was a transformative experience for james monroe, one he described in a letter written late in his life. though young at the commencement of our revolution, i took part in it, and its principles have invariably guided me since. nothing can be more deeply fixed than the judgment and heart of anyone than are the principles of our free system of government in mine. james monroe was born april 28, 1758 in westmoreland county to
spence and elizabeth monroe. while not possessing the large land holdings or wealth like some of their neighbors like the lees and washingtons, the monroes lived comfortably and were able to send their son to the best local schools, campbell town academy. among his school mates was future u.s. supreme court justice marshall. monroe entered the college of william and mary in june of 1774. like many of his classmates, he was soon caught up in revolutionary fervor. monroe was part of a group of students who seized arms from the governor's palace on june 24, 1775. and in february of the next year, he was commissioned to lieutenant in the 3rd virginia infantry. the 3rd virginia under the commander colonel later brigadier george of fredricks berg. on accept 16th the renlment took
part in the victory at harlem heights. promoted to captain and then major after recovering from his trenton wound, monroe became an aide to camp to the american general william alexander, who claimed the british title lord sterling. the british had something else to say about that. on february 23, 1778, during the harsh winter encampment at valley forge, monroe signed this furlough for a pennsylvania soldier. the earliest known example of his signature on an official document. which i'm proud to say we have at the james monroe museum. we know who the soldier is. a gentleman who was able to leave the army for several weeks named john wallace and would found thetown. monroe served with young men who would figure in his later life. among them lafayette, whose greater rank did not prevent the two soldiers only a year apart
in age from becoming life-long friends. also his childhood friend and future chief justice john marshall, and aaron burr and alexander hamilton, destined to fight the most famous duel in american history and i think there was a musical or some other play, something, i seem to remember it in "people." during the ought item of 1707, monroe fought in the battles of brandywine and germantown, leaving a scouting party at the balgs of monmouth in june 1778, monroe sent messages to george washington that helped thwart a british move against the continental army's right flank. monmouth would be the last time monroe would be under fire in the revolutionary war. he became lieutenant colonel of virginia forces, a military aide to governor thomas jefferson but was unsuccessful in being able to recruit enough soldiers for a regiment of his own to command.
and seeing very little prospect for being able to further his military career, monroe left the army and began the study of law with jefferson. first in williamsburg and then in richmond, when the virginia capital moved to that city. 13 years older than his protege, jefferson became monroe's political mentor. describing monroe to another of his disciples, james and madison, jefferson declared, turn his soul wrong side outwards and there is not a speck on it. james married elizabeth courtwright of new york. they had two daughters and a son james spence monroe, who died in infancy. the monroe family was close-knit and stayed together even as james embarked on a political career in the united states and abroad. between 1778 and 1811 monroe
compiled a larger and longer public service resume than anyone who has ever been elected president of the united states. he practiced law in fredericksburg, served as a state and federal legislator, was a delegate to the virginia ratifying convention for the u.s. constitution and was elected to four terms as governor of virginia. he was u.s. ambassador to france twice, to great britain and to spain. he helped negotiate the louisiana purchase treaty, coming into attempt to help with the resolution of the treaty, which was only supposed to have been for the acquisition of the port of new orleans, and then being presented with the opportunity to buy all of louisiana. fortunately for the country's development, there was a quick decision on that part that later would prove very important. he also, with his wife, attended
the core nation of napoleon bone apart. he was trying to do shuttle diplomacy, trying to negotiate with the british over navigation of the seas and trade right, he was negotiating with spanish in trying to acquire florida. some of this diplomatic activity had taken him out of favor with the french and monroe complained he and his wife were put up in what we would call the cheap seats, way back in the back of this port rat somewhere is monroe complaining about where they were. they were exceedingly well dressed. they had on an elegant court outfit for monroe and a lovely dress of mrs. monroe that are in our collection. they give some indication of the satorial style he brought to his diplomatic career. in january of 1811, monroe began his fourth term as governor of virginia, but resigned in april to become secretary of state in
the administration of james madison. the united states was locked in a struggle with great britain over trade policies and impressment were the seizing of british deserters and american sailors by the royal navy. hostilities began when congress declared war on june 18, 1812. over the next two years, american victories at sea were offset by repeated defeats on land. as a british naval and military force entered the chesapeake region in the summer of 1814, monroe and others called for better defenses for the u.s. capitol. but little was done. british troops came ashore at benedict, maryland, on august 19, 1814 and began marching to blade ensberg when monroe's suggestion of couriers to report the enemies' movements disregarded, monroe went into the field himself. he used this telescope to count the numbers of ships and men in the british force and reported
back to president madison. at the battle of bladensburg on august 24th, the british quickly routed a regular force of regulars and poorly organized militia. monroe moved some on the field in a manner that did little to improve an already chaotic command structure. while the car soon at the above right proves madden fled from the british in panic, in fact, he and the most of the cabinet, including monroe, stayed on the field until the end and narrowly avoided capture. the british moved on to washington, d.c., where they burned many public buildings, including the white house. in the aftermath of this disaster, armstrong resigned as secretary of war and monroe assumed the office while remaining secretary of state. although the british soon fled washington, the possibility of another attack on the capitol finally spurred better preparations, which monroe
directed. the war ended in february 1815 with the u.s. ratification with the treaty of gent. monroe was elected president in 1816, the culmination of this public service career that had taken him through so many different offices, different experiences here and abroad. he and his wife elizabeth undertook the restoration and refurnishing of the white house, a project that would continue throughout his two terms in office. and it really cannot be overstated how significant the role of the monroes was in defining what we come to understand today as white house style. they were literally starting with a blank canvas. had to use, in fact, most of their own furniture initially while things purchased abroad became part of the white house furnishings. in later efforts at redecorating, trying to recapture the style lost over the centuries, really, right up to and including jacqueline kennedy's work, the monroe
example was what many of those subsequent efforts tried to recapture. mrs. monroe's experience as first lady was characterized by a fondness for european style salons that were not always well received by washington society. she also endured a range of physical ailments that often prevented her from serving as white house hostess. as president monroe urged congress to appropriate sufficient funds for an expanded army and navy in a modern system of coastal forts. though he didn't get everything that he wished for, work did begin on new installations, including one in 1819 that was named ft. monroe in his honor. during two regional tours of the country in 1817 and 1819, monroe inspected the nation's defenses and he also, perhaps inadvertently, at least at the start, brought something of the modern presidency to many parts of the country. we're very familiar today with the spectacle of a presidential
motorcade or presidential arrival within a community and all the things that can it imply. that was a novelty in 1817. and generated an immensely positive reaction. one that i think even monroe was probably not suspecting would happen. and that tour proved popular that it produced the catchphrase for his administration, the era of good feelings. monroe dealt with the perennial problem of relations with the native american peoples who were directly in the path of settlers moving west. in 1821 a large delegation of plains indian chiefs visited washington, where they were portraitized by charles byrd king and some of those wonderful images -- go back to that. some of those wonderful images, which later were destroyed in a fire at the smithsonian, but copies of them survive. monday be row, as presidents before and after had done,
presented the delegations with peace medals professing peace and friendship. as monroe sought to harmonize relations with the indians, he faced a greater challenge brought on by westward expansion. the bitter debate over slavery in territories west of the mississippi. when missouri sought admission to the union as a slave state in 1819, it precipitated a political crisis by threatening to upset the balance of power in congress between slave and free states. a series of agreements hammered out between henry clay and john c. calhoun in 1820 and 1821, collectively known as the missouri compromise, settled the issue for the time being. monroe signed off on the compromise with relief and expressed optimism that the slavery question would be resolved before it tore the union apart. his old mentor jefferson was less sanguchlts in calling it a
firebell in the night, that did not bode well for missouri's future. much as he believed separation was the solution to problems between indians and whites, monroe saw merit in efforts to send free blacks back to africa. although not as active within the movement as others, including his friend charles fenton mercer, monday row was present for the founding meeting in washington, d.c., on april 21, 1816. four years later the ship "elizabeth" took the first group of african-americans to the colony that would eventually be named liberia, the capital of which, monrovia is named for, you know who. by the end of the war of 1812 and the final defeat of napoleon had largely -- acquisition of florida had still not occurred when monroe entered the white house. in 1817 he sent general andrew
jackson into east florida to suppress seminole indians and fugitive slaves that were conducting raids into u.s. territory. jackson enlarged upon his original mission by attacking spanish forts in the region and he suspected of working against his army. now, whether jackson exceeded his orders or was simply doing what he was told to do in confidence, secretary of state john quincy adams was able to overcome spanish protests and negotiate the purchase of florida, which occurred in 1821. but this became a source of some controversy and contention between jackson and monroe and some degree adams later on. during the same period they recognized the independence of latin american republics that had fought for their independence from spain and portugal. the united states was one of the
first nation to recognize the newly independent republics of chile, peru, colombia, mexico and present day argentina. worried about stability in latin america and worried about wary of the russian claims on the coast of north america, monroe made a policy statement that would be among the most enduring of his presidency. his annual message to congress contained the usual run down of government expenditures, sort of run of the mill things. the message also declared that the american continents by the free and independent condition for which they have assumed and maintained are henceforth not to be considered as subjects for future colonization by any european power. this was followed a few sentences later with, in the
wars of the european powers in matters relating to themselves, we have never taken part nor does it comport with our policy to do so. it is only when our rights are invaded or seriously menaced that we resent injuries or make preparation for our defense. this policy position articulated is known of course as the monroe doctrine. i said the monroe doctrine. john quincy adams is often by many historians assumed or outright identified as the author of the monroe doctrine, a point that it will come as no surprise with which i respectfully disagree. adams did have crucial suggestions to make regarding the final form of this message, but monroe's own long diplomatic service, his experience on the world stage informed very much his thinking. and the final message, the final
responsibility of its issuance were monroe's. the immediate impact of the monroe doctrine was relatively low key although the import was clearly understood by leaders in europe and appreciated by those in latin america. although u.s. military and naval power at this time would not have been sufficient to counter a determined coalition of european aggressors, such a development was unlikely. the declaration also invoked the philosophy of george washington who'd warned the united states against engaging in any diplomatic commitments that could drag the country into a european war. advice that we followed until 1917. the monroe doctrine was a cornerstone of american foreign policy for much of the 19th and 20th centuries. teddy roosevelt introduced a corollary to the doctrine that sanctioned u.s. military intervention in conflicts between european countries and latin america to enforce legitimate claims of the
european powers. his cousin franklin contended with access attempts to infiltrate the western hemisphere before and after america's entry into world war ii. and the monroe doctrine famously came into play during the runup to and then the development of the cuban missile crisis in 1962. that lower right image is one of my all-time favorites. if you can't quite see it, it's a ship baring the flag of the monroe doctrine placidly sailing outside cuba while a frogman with a "k" on his shoulder is swimming to cuba underneath of it. this actually appeared before the discovery of the missiles in cuba, just a few weeks before. so it was remarkably foreshadowing what was about to happen. in the 21st century, the monroe doctrine has -- it's had some rough handling. it's had some interesting interpretations. president george w. bush confronting a post-9/11 world, a doctrine for wide ranging u.s. military intervention around the world often without regard
necessarily to the opinion of parts of the world. in 2013 secretary of state john kerry told the organization of american states, quote, the era of the monroe doctrine is over. and there was sort of a surprised reaction and scattering of applause and kerry said, yes, that's a good thing. his statement was intended to acknowledge the independence of latin american countries though many conservatives have taken issue with the speech. whatever the future holds for the monroe doctrine in this century and going forward, it is nonetheless nonetheless remarkable that a presidential policy made in 1823 can still be a matter of debate nearly two
centuries later. although he refused most ini have -- invitations to hold public office he did in 1929. he did agree to chair the constitutional convention in 1829. he was joined there by other lifelong friends, james madison who is addressing the body here and former chief justice who is seated immediately behind madison. but monroe was ill for much of the time and had to resign before the convention adjourned in 1830. elizabeth monroe died in 1830. her grieving spouse went to new york city physically unable to return to virginia, monroe died on july 4, 1831, five years to the day after the deaths of thomas jefferson and john adams. after an elaborate funeral in which there was an estimated 70,000 attendees, monroe was buried in new york city's marble cemetery. commonwealth of virginia had his remains exhumed in 1858 and
re-entered into cemetery. their daughter is actually buried in paris. the ornate gothic revival tomb, the bird cage as it's called over the monroe tomb there in hollywood cemetery is a familiar landmark, if you ever been there. this is in 1865 photograph soon after richmond's fall. the tomb has been restored and going through an extensive process of refurbishment in which almost 30% of the original iron has been replaced. and i'm hopeful that it's going to be ready in time for monroe's birthday observance later oncoming up this april. because it desperately needed the work to save this treasure. over the years james monroe has been memorialized in many ways from commemorative coins, postage stamps, a cracker jack prize, symbols of education and military might.
he ranks near the top in the number of places named for a u.s. president. as we observed, he's the only american for whom a foreign capital is named. in 1927, monroe's great a building at 1908 charles street in fredericksburg, virginia from demolition. the threat came from ironically the monroe service station. that always gets a laugh. having saved the building, they established a museum depicting monroe's law office and library that he had during his years in fredericksburg, 1786 to 1789. the museum's first director served for 51 years and augmented the family's collection of heirlooms.
1948, the james monroe memorial foundation was created to administer the site. the foundation transferred ownership to the commonwealth of virginia in 1864. the university of virginia was the initial administrative authority until 1972 when uva's women's division, mary washington college, became independent. in 2004, the college became the university of mary washington. and the law office depiction was converted into a gallery format in 2006 because it was discovered that the building we occupy, which is actually three buildings that merged over time, all of it post dates monroe's ownership of the property. so we're not the first monroe site to have to come up with a few different approaches about what to do with our property. i hope we're the last, but we've had some interesting developments about that.
in any case, though, it has given us an opportunity by going to this gallery based showcase of artifacts which is the largest in the country related to our fifth president. the bicentennial of monroe's presidency offers a wealth of opportunities to highlight the apex of his career. the museum staged a joint press conference on presidents day with monroe character interpreter jay harrison and our new president at the university of mary washington troy peno. he will be inaugurated in april of this year. what we were also struck by is the remarkable similarity in the writings of these men 200 years apart about education, leadership, about civic responsibility. and so the press conference turned out to be a really engaging program that we were very happy to be a part of.
on march 4th we commemorated monroe's inauguration, exactly 200 years after the historical event. we inspired at least one young man to want to wear his campaign button. on the same day of highland, excerpts from monroe's inaugural address in a fitting citizen tribute to a leader who dedicated his life to serving our democratic republic. another bicentennial initiative that involves students in the museum's studies program at the university of mary washington is one of which i'm extremely proud. they have designed a traveling exhibit that will visit some of the places monroe went to during his 1817 northern tour. this is a joint project between the james monroe museum and the papers of james monroe. it is particularly rewarding and meaningful to me to know that we are helping students hone their skills in the areas of museum studies, of historic preservation in working on this
and letting us share this exhibit with a wider audience. we're in the process now of booking the sites of where this all will go. and we're in the process of booking the '18-'19 southern tour as it comes up on its anniversary. many other exciting opportunities also lie ahead over the next eight years as we commemorate the bicentennial of james monroe's presidency. i want to thank you for your kind attention. i don't know in we're doing questions now. okay. we will do questions at this point before the break, which i hope i've not run up against too much. [ applause ] thank you. yeah. go ahead. [ inaudible ]
>> i think that given the fact that president monroe tried to be as at oak hill as much as he could during the presidency, that is certainly plausible. i think dan preston might have more intimate knowledge of whether that was something that happened exclusively or at least in part. see how i pivoted right to you, dan, on that question? thank you. [ inaudible ]
>> the message itself, though, was really honed in washington when he was meeting with his cabinet in late november into early december just before his presentation. as with anybody writing a speech, of course they're always doing it the night before. when he first started discussing the issue, though, certainly he was down this way. so partly, yes, partly no. >> it's an answer everybody can be happy with. yes, sir? >> where did monroe rank in the importance as far as -- >> well, i would say here and then everybody -- no. it's interesting. james monroe has typically over the years that there have been rankings of presidents, been near the top of the second tier, i think is the best way to say it. you've got your top ten. and anywhere from 11 to 15 or so is generally where monroe has fallen.
i'd say in the last 50 years he's migrated up. there was a recent ranking of presidents and he was at -- >> six. >> that's not fake news. it's real. i think the appreciation of monroe's accomplishment is partly as a result of scholarship getting to resources that weren't previously accessed and to some degree trying to read across the debates going on across some of these issues and appreciating that monroe was a quietly effective leader, was not always necessarily looking for the limelight. i think that monroe's effectiveness is being more recognized. sir? >> how long did monroe hang onto his support of the french revolution? did it carry past 1792? >> i think that monroe saw his belief in and adherence to the revolutionary principles of france as a logical extension of what the american revolutionary experience meant to him. he, as many of the democratic republicans viewed it, saw the two as almost like a binary organism, that the one was an organic product of the other.
as the excesses of the revolution became particularly bloody and violent, he did recoil from that, yet he never lost appreciation for the french devotion to liberty and republican principles. his hope was there could be a reconciliation of those, a harmony of those with american interests. the washington administration, alexander hamilton is the leader, developer of the federalist party, saw a different future, one more closely aligned to great britain. that not only set the tone for our first real political party evolution here, it set the tone for a lot of conflict that monroe had with a number of his contemporaries. but i do think he stayed very devoted to those principles and his affection for france was genuine and personal as well as
philosophical. yes, ma'am? >> i'm not a native virginian, so i'm surprised that at one point monroe was governor for four terms when currently it's only one term. was this changed during this constitutional convention from 1830? >> it wasn't changed then. the evolution of the governorship of virginia has had several periods. when we look at it from the independence, from 1776, when our first constitution as being governors could be elected for one-year terms to which they were eligible for two subsequent elections. and some people call it a term of three years if they're reelected. we choose to look at it as three elected terms because there's the possibility he would not have been in years two and three. so he did have those three
initial ones and then he had been elected to a fourth which presumably could have set up a fifth and a six had he stayed, except he went and joined the madison administration. patrick henry just beat him out. patrick henry, i believe, ended up having five terms. i showed an image in that when i referred to it of the governor's mansion in richmond which monroe never got to stay in. he signed the legislation that had it built, but he didn't stay in the governor's position long enough to actually enjoy the new house that he authorized. sir? >> can you say a few words about the relationship between monroe and lafayette? >> it was a friendship born of shared service during the revolution and it also coincided the monroe's awakening to the wider political and social world of the philosophies, the french thinkers and writers who had such an impact on revolutionary thought. and lafayette helped share that, that and the fact they were both masons, that they were young soldiers confronting this great
adventure in their lives. it really cemented a bond between them. lafayette had wonderful relationships with many of his contemporaries as well. the affection and correspondence between the two continued. monroe's presence in france actually coincided with the time lafayette was in exile and away. monroe and mrs. monroe were instrumental in paying a very publicized visit to madame lafayette's imprisonment to help convince the french authorities not to execute her, as they did members of her family previously, but to let her go eventually. so they had a role in engineering that. when monroe was president and lafayette did his famous visit here in 1824, monroe received him at the white house. although trying to keep it
somewhat low key, not make a big state visit affair of it, he made it known he would have a place to stay basically and a hot meal whenever he wanted to come by. it was truly a lifelong friendship that went right up to monroe's death. >> he spoke french? >> he did speak french. as i understand, a smattering of italian and was competent in parsing some other languages too, i guess spanish as well to some degree. but, yes, french -- i'm sorry. >> and of course latin and greek. >> of course latin and greek, yes. but i think that the use of french was both something useful in his diplomatic career and something that the family employed for their own edification too. i saw one more -- well, rich? >> i was going to ask about the idea of him being considered a founding father because he was of the revolutionary generation. as president, having been a revolutionary war veteran and
wounded at one of the very famous battles, did he trade on that? did he use that with his -- >> it's probably instructive to know that even as president he liked to be called colonel monroe. his style of dress when he was on his northern tour was not a military uniform, but it was buff britches and a dark coat. a big hat of the revolutionary style, which we have in our collection actually. and there's a wonderful story i'm going to share because you've given me the opening. that hat is very napoleonic, very big wide brimmed hat. we've made a reproduction of it for our interpreter jay harrison to wear. we were contacted recently by the connecticut historical society about borrowing the hat because the american school for the deaf in connecticut was
founded during monroe's tour in 1817 and he visited there. and they did not have a sign in american sign language yet for president. so the stories related to us is the sign was created that day and this is still today the asl sign for president. it's this. and the story is it's because of the hat he was wearing. i wish we could claim we made that up. we didn't. the story was brought to us. we're about to loan the hat for that purpose for that school. i think it's a wonderful visual image that has helped influence something that has endured here for 200 years. even if it's not true, it's a great story. i love it. [ inaudible ] >> packed with real stuff. [ inaudible ] >> thank you. unsolicited endorsement there
from my friend tracy. we have brochures and our program schedule out in the hallway. i encourage you to take those if you haven't already. and i thank you. [ applause ]. weeknights this month we're featuring american history tv programs as a preview of what is available every weekend on c-span 3. tonight hampton city college professor looks at depictions of slavery. he talks about how early films glorified the lost cause, and he argues while recent films shows the horrors of the idea of the white saver is often still central to the narrative, and
enjoy the american history tv every weekend on c-span 3. next on american history tv, the fifth president attended the college. william and mary is also mr.kray's alma mater. our final speaker today is gordon kray. gordon and i go way back to our days at william & mary when we realized that there were several people on the virginia campus that talked funny. he was from redding,