by Harry Ammon

ISBN 978-0-945707-21-9     $35.00

706 pages including notes and index.

   Out of print since 1971, this well-researched and highly-readable biography accords Monroe a far more important place in the history of the early years of the republic than has been given him by earlier writers.  Harry Ammon's evidence is voluminous and his treatment judicious; he awards plaudits where they are due but does not hesitate to point out Monroe's shortcomings.
   As a person Monroe was generous, sensitive to the feelings of others, able to work with individuals whose ideas and temperaments were very different from his own, and without malice.  He engendered respect, esteem, and gratitude rather than passionate devotion and was looked upon as a symbol of national unity rather than as a national hero.  His amour-propre, which took the form of an "undue sensitivity to criticism", led him to internalize and personalize disapproval of his actions and on occasions to unwarranted attacks on his superiors.
   Such "indiscretion" is best illustrated by his actions following the missions to France and to England where Monroe was faced with situations in which he felt compelled either to violate or ignore instructions.  Ammon's careful detailing of these incidents convinces one that earlier criticism of Monroe has been too harsh.  Whatever conclusion one reaches about Monroe's culpability, it seems fair to say that the best interests of the republic were always foremost in his thinking.

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