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JAMES MONROE: The Quest for National Identity by Harry Ammon

JAMES MONROE: The Quest for National Identity


Pub Date: April 1st, 1971
ISBN: 0813912660
Publisher: McGraw-Hill

James Monroe stands in bas relief against the political and economic currents of revolution, confederation, the national debt, the 1812 war, the 1819 panic, and his Doctrine. Unfortunately, in his painstaking reconstruction of Monroe's career, Ammon fails to discuss Monroe's basic motives for trying to deny the Northwest Territories statehood while extracting outlays for internal improvements from Congress. Monroe's Republicanism is viewed mostly in terms of a romantic love of freedom gleaned from his readings and his association with Jefferson; Hamilton's debt refunding proposals are taken as mere indicators of a monarchist streak, while the basis for the Republican-Federalist split is obscured. Thus when Monroe tours the Northwest upon his first inauguration and meets overwhelming affirmation of Federalist good will, Ammon attributes this to his ""charm."" In the disputes with Clay and Crawford, Ammon sticks to the immediate issues of contention rather than their causes, and concludes that Monroe acted honorably while his opponents did not. By consistently ducking analysis of Monroe's political motivations and the milieu in which he formulated his policies, Ammon provides simply a good ""personal"" biography without the political history implied by the subtitle.