Elizabeth Kortright Monroe
Born: June 30, 1768 at New York City, New York
Died: September 23, 1830 (aged 62) at Oak Hill, Virginia
Spouse: James Monroe (m. 1786 – 1830)
Children: Elizabeth Kortright Monroe Hay, James Spence Monroe, Maria Hester Monroe Gouverneur
First Lady of the United States (1817 – 1825)
Facts about Elizabeth Kortright Monroe
As a young woman, Elizabeth Kortright Monroe was part of New York City’s elite circles. In Paris, as wife of the American Minister during the Reign of Terror, she helped secure the release of Madame La Fayette, wife of the Marquis de Lafayette, when she learned of her imprisonment and threatened death by guillotine.
This First Lady was known as “La Belle Americaine” because of her popularity in France due to her beauty and her fashionable appearance. She suffered a series of seizures and collapses (possibly epilepsy), which would plague her for the rest of her life, and gradually cause her to restrict social activities.
During Elizabeth’s illnesses, some of the social duties were carried out by her daughters. Although she was respected, many did not like her as much as previous First Lady Dolley Madison. The marriage of her daughter, Maria Hester Monroe to Samuel Lawrence Gouverneur, was the first to take place in the White House.
Through her mother, she is a first cousin twice-removed to President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Elizabeth Monroe’s coin was released in February 2008.
Elizabeth Kortright Monroe Childhood
Very little primary-source material exists on the life of Elizabeth Monroe, wife of U.S. president James Monroe. Most of what is known comes from the letters and writings of other people. She was born Elizabeth Kortright on June 30, 1768, in New York City, to an established New York family. Her father, Lawrence Kortright, was a British officer who had made a fortune as a privateer during the French and Indian War. Though a Loyalist, he took no part in the Revolutionary War and lost much of his wealth soon after.
Elizabeth acquired her education and social graces through the tutelage of her grandmother, a wealthy property owner in New York. At a petite five feet, Elizabeth was a beautiful 16-year-old with raven hair who caught the eye of young Congressman James Monroe in 1784.
Where is Elizabeth Kortright Monroe buried?
She was interred at the estate, but her husband later died in New York under their daughter’s care and was originally buried in that northern state. His remains were moved 25 years after his death to become a key attraction during the development of Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond, Virginia. Elizabeth’s remains were reinterred there in 1903, where both spouses remain buried.
How did Elizabeth Kortright Monroe die?
Sickly and suffering several long illnesses (including severe burns from a collapse near a fireplace a year after leaving the White House), Elizabeth died at Oak Hill on September 23, 1830 aged 62.