One evening in 1785, a woman “made so brilliant and lovely an appearance” that she caught the attention of the young congressman James Monroe as he was attending the theater in New York. By all accounts it was love at first sight, and within the year he and the woman—Elizabeth Kortwright– were married. The youngest daughter of a wealthy New York merchant, Elizabeth spent the next four decades accompanying her husband to Europe on diplomatic missions, to the Governor’s mansion in Richmond, and finally serving as the fifth First Lady of the United States. Elizabeth Monroe was well known for being a gracious and culturally refined woman, and during her time in France earned the nickname “La Belle Américaine.” By the time she became First Lady, however, poor health required her to retire from public life. As a result her legacy is largely overshadowed by her predecessor, Dolly Madison, and she is little remembered today. Join Sara Bon-Harper, Executive Director of James Monroe's Highland, as she examines the life of First Lady Elizabeth Kortwright Monroe.
The program will be held at Oak Hill, James and Elizabeth Monroe’s country estate in Loudoun County. Oak Hill served as a refuge for Elizabeth during the War of 1812, and again during her husband’s presidency when ill health prevented her from taking a more active role in Washington. Finally, it was at Oak Hill that Elizabeth Monroe died in 1830.
Following the talk visitors will have a chance to enjoy refreshments and tour the gardens where Elizabeth spent so much of her time. We hope that you can join us for this rare opportunity to enjoy this largely forgotten piece of presidential history! Tickets are $100 for MHAA members and $120 for non-members. For tickets click the link below or call (540) 687-5578.