James Monroe Museum and Memorial Library
Explore the Life of our Fifth President
James Monroe
James Monroe

The James Monroe Museum and Memorial Library, located in historic downtown Fredericksburg, Virginia, is the largest repository in the country for artifacts, furniture, decorative arts and documents related to the fifth president of the United States. The public career of James Monroe (April 28, 1758 — July 4, 1831) ranged from distinguished service in the American Revolution — during which he was wounded at the battle of Trenton (he carried the bullet for the rest of his life), endured the winter encampment at Valley Forge, and was promoted three times, from lieutenant to lieutenant colonel — to two presidential terms, which were so free of partisan strife that they were called "The Era of Good Feelings." In between, Monroe served in virtually all branches of local, state, and national government. Among the positions he held were member of the Virginia House of Delegates, U.S. Senator, Governor of Virginia (four times), U.S. Minister to France and Great Britain, and U.S. Secretary of State and Secretary of War (concurrently from 1814-15).

The museum was opened in 1927 by James Monroe's great-granddaughter. Learning that the Fredericksburg property Monroe had owned as a young lawyer was about to be demolished, she bought the lot and the old buildings situated there and used them to display her personal collection of Monroe family furniture, clothing, decorative arts, books and documents. Today, the museum is owned by the Commonwealth of Virginia and operated by the University of Mary Washington. Highlights of the museum's collection include the Louis XVI secretary that is believed to be the desk on which Monroe penned his famous Doctrine; a furlough signed by Monroe as a Continental Army officer at Valley Forge; jewelry belonging to his fashionable wife Elizabeth, who was known by the French as "la belle Americaine;" a fully-restored 1810 Astor pianoforte that was a favorite of the Monroes' younger daughter Maria Hester; and a 48-piece collection of clothing worn by the Monroes, which provides an unprecedented glimpse into their personalities and daily lives.

The museum is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. During the months of December, January and February, the museum closes at 4 p.m. daily. The largely self-guided tour takes approximately 30 minutes. A variety of special events are presented throughout the year.

908 Charles Street
Fredericksburg, VA 22401
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