JAMES MONROE: PUBLIC CLAIMANT by

JAMES MONROE: PUBLIC CLAIMANT

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Not a general biography, but one directed to a specific area, this has limited sales appeal. On January 6, 1825, President Monroe in a Message to Congress demanded a Congressional examination of all ""accounts and claims between himself and his country, over a period of more than forty years, with a view to eventual settlement""; in this carefully annotated study the author examines both the reasons for the demand and the nature of the claims. Nearly bankrupt in 1825, Monroe's reasons were two-fold: 1) To clear himself in the matter of $20,000 missing from the accounts of a Commissioner of Public Buildings who, as his agent, had bought furniture for the White House; 2) to present claims for personal expenses incurred on his two missions to Europe, in 1794 and 1803, on which Monroe, an extravagant man, had exceeded his official allowance. A third and less obvious reason was that Monroe had been accused of questionable actions by prominent men, among them Washington and Jefferson, and felt he should be recompensed for these ""insults"". The expense claims were eventually paid, plus interest, but the insults lingered, as did Monroe's ill-advised complaints. Not for average readers or average libraries, this clearly written study appeals to students and research historians of early American political and financial history.

Publisher: Rutgers University Press