James Monroe (1758 - 1831)
James Monroe was a somewhat ordinary man in an age of giants; yet, he had a gift for cultivating the friendship of the influential and gifted. Becoming friendly with Virginia's Governor Thomas Jefferson at an early age, Monroe studied law under the influential man, remaining his close friend for life; he even built his home - - Ash Lawn -- near Monticello, Jefferson's estate.
Monroe served in the Virginia legislature (1782), and the Continental Congress (1783-1786). He was later named Secretary of State under President James Madison, and ultimately, elected President of the United States (1817 - 1825).