James Monroe

Binge reading continues with James Monroe. Fifth president. Two terms. Served as an officer in the Revolutionary War under Washington. Became governor of Virginia and ambassador to France, Spain and England. Negotiated the Louisiana Purchase between the United States and Napoleon, thereby doubling the size of our country. Secretary of state under Madison and became acting secretary of war during the War of 1812 against the British.

As president, he worked closely with his secretary of state John Quincy Adams and general Andrew Jackson to wrest control of Florida and the Oregon Territory from Spain, thereby establishing territorial security for the nation. His most lasting achievement was delivering the Monroe Doctrine during his seventh annual address to congress, which declared the entire Western Hemisphere off limits to future colonization by European countries.

Fred Michmershuizen

As presidential biographies go, I found “The Last Founding Father” by Harlow Giles Unger to be well-written and easy to read, complete with maps. It was a bit skimpy in parts, but I feel it hit all the main points. On to No. 6.

John Jay

Just finished “John Jay: Founding Father” by Walter Stahr. This is a well-written and well-researched biography. John Jay served as president of the Continental Congress. He was principal negotiator (along with Franklin and Adams) of the treaty that ended the Revolutionary War. He was instrumental in the writing and ratification of the constitution, and he was first chief justice of the United States. He also served as governor of New York State. Working closely with Washington, Hamilton and many others, he was a key player in the founding of our country.

Fred Michmershuizen