Top of page

Collection James Monroe Papers

About this Collection

The James Monroe Papers at the Manuscript Division of the Library of Congress consist of approximately 5,200 items dating from 1758 to 1839. Monroe (1758–1831) was the fifth president of the United States, and one of 23 presidents whose papers are at the Library of Congress. Monroe's papers document his presidency and also his prior careers as secretary of state, secretary of war, delegate to the United States Continental Congress, diplomat, and governor of Virginia. Topics covered include the negotiations with France for the Louisiana Purchase (1803), the Monroe-Pinkney treaty with Great Britain (1806), the War of 1812 (1812-1815), the Missouri Compromise (1820), the purchase of Florida from Spain (1819–1821), the Monroe Doctrine (1823), and Virginia politics. Monroe's correspondents include John Adams, John Quincy Adams, François Barbé-Marbois, Nicholas Biddle, John C. Calhoun, Henry Clay, Charles James Fox, Andrew Jackson, Thomas Jefferson, the Marquis de Lafayette, Robert R. Livingston, James Madison, Thomas Paine, William Pinkney, Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord, George Washington, Carlos Martinez de Yrujo, and others.

The bulk of the collection (Series 1, General Correspondence, 1758-1839) was purchased by the federal government from Monroe's descendants in 1849. In 1903, these papers were transferred from the State Department (which had custody of them as well as other presidential papers) to the Library of Congress. The rest of the collection, Series 2 (1776–1838), Series 3 (1794–1806), and Series 4 (1778–1831) consists of papers that the Library acquired before or after the 1903 transfer and copies of original Monroe papers in private hands and other libraries. Series 1, 2, and 3 have been microfilmed and digitized copies of the microfilm are available on this Web site. Series 4 was not microfilmed, but the original documents in this series have been digitized and included here.

In this digital presentation each of the eleven reels of the microfilm is represented by its own web page or “object record.” Because the series are arranged by provenance (rather than by date, correspondent, or subject), it is sometimes necessary to look for items in more than one series. For more information about the contents of each reel and series and to view a name index, see the Index to the James Monroe Papers (Washington, D.C., 1963) and the finding aid to the collection. For additional guidance and examples of how to locate items listed in the published Index, see the Guide to Using the James Monroe Papers on this Web site. You may access the James Monroe Papers from the finding aid, or from the series list, below.

Description of Series

Series 1: General Correspondence, 1758–1839. Reels 1-9

Monroe’s correspondence, consisting of letters written and received by him. Also includes copies and drafts of Monroe’s letters, memoranda, notes, reports, and more. This series, which is arranged chronologically, constitutes the bulk of the collection. It was transferred from the State Department to the Library of Congress in 1903.

Series 2: Additional Correspondence, 1776–1838. Reels 9-10

Photostats of approximately 381 items of correspondence and related manuscripts owned by a Monroe descendant, Laurence G. Hoes. They are arranged chronologically and are reproduced here with his permission. Hoes gave the originals to the James Monroe Museum and Memorial Library in Fredericksburg, Virginia.

Series 3: Letterbooks and Account Book, 1794–1806. Reels 10-11

Letterbooks, 1803-1806, containing copies of diplomatic correspondence during the years Monroe served as minister to England, and an account book containing memoranda and accounts during his mission to France, 1794–1796. The center portion of the account book was used for personal accounts, Oct. 1801–Nov. 1802.

Series 4: Addenda, 1778–1831 and undated

Correspondence, photocopies and typescripts of correspondence, a presidential pardon, property and financial records, and miscellaneous documents. Arranged by the year the addition was processed, and alphabetically thereunder by type of material or topic. Not microfilmed with the rest of the collection in 1960, although original documents have now been digitized.