NAME: James Monroe
PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION: Slightly over 6 feet tall, Monroe was sturdily built with broad shoulders and a large frame. He has a high forehead, and from early adulthood deep bays indented in his hairline. The dark wavy hair of his youth had grayed almost completely by the time he became president. Hi angular face was distinctive for its oversized nose, wide-set blue-gray eyes, and dimpled chin. He always appeared well groomed but did not keep up with fashion changes in clothes. His health generally was good.
PERSONALITY: Monroe’s greatest asset was his disarming, warm personality. Although conceding that Monroe lacked brilliance and a nimble mind, biographer Harry Ammon pointed out that he “had a rare ability of putting men at ease by his courtesy, his lack of condescension, his frankness, and by what his contemporaries looked upon as his essential goodness and kindness of heart.” Monroe at least partially overcame an early shyness but remained markedly low-key and reserved, especially among strangers. Acutely sensitive to criticism, he at times took offense where none was intended. Rather than lash back at his critics, however, he usually bottled up his feelings. “Operating as he did with such an elevated sense of his on integrity,” Ammon has written, “he could not easily adjust when old friends failed to approve his conduct.”
SOURCE: DeGregorio, William A. The Complete Book of U.S. Presidents. 7th ed. Fort Lee: Barricade Books, 2009.
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