December 02, 2009
It's Not What You Know
In this life, connections are everything, and it was no different in Revolutionary America. And I feel very safe saying that no person, now or then, has ever possessed references better than James Monroe's. As a 21 year old war veteran, he traversed the country looking for a regiment of troops he could command, and later sought a placement at University in France. He had with him three letters of recommendation.
Alexander Hamilton said this: "You know him to be a man of honour and a sensible man and a soldier. This makes it unnecessary to me to say anything to interest your friendship for him. You love your country too and he has the zeal and capacity to serve it."
George Washington: "[T]he esteem I have for him, and a regard for his merit, conspire to make me earnestly wish to see him provided for in some handsome way."
Thomas Jefferson called Monroe a man of "abilities, merit, and fortune" and a "particular friend."
Jefferson later became Monroe's legal mentor (after Monroe FAILED to get a job or place in school!) and pretty much invented the case method for teaching law, just for Monroe. That's what they now teach at every law school in the country, including Notre Dame, where I just left with three letters of recommendation from non-Founding Fathers.