The University of Mary Washington has been awarded a three-year, $345,000 National Endowment for the Humanities grant for continued publication of The Papers of James Monroe.
The grant, among those announced Aug. 15, 2023, will support the preparation for publication of Volumes Eight and Nine of a projected ten-volume series of Monroe’s papers. Since 1989, UMW researchers have collected, transcribed, annotated and published documents bearing on the life and legacy of Monroe, the nation’s fifth president. Seven volumes have been published to date.
The latest NEH grant runs from October 2023 to September 2026 for work on volumes detailing Monroe’s two presidential terms during what has been called the Era of Good Feelings – actually a period of social and political ferment.
“Volumes Eight and Nine of The Papers of James Monroe are arguably the most consequential of the entire series,” said Robert Karachuk, current project director and editor.
Covering Monroe’s presidency, from March 1817 to February 1825, the volumes “will open new avenues for the study of Monroe, the presidency and the nation,” Karachuk said. “They will present Monroe as a mature statesman striving to craft practical solutions affording immediate relief to complex problems having long-term implications.”
Of particular interest in these volumes is the “hydra-headed challenge” of slavery.
Monroe was an enslaver, and the volumes will illuminate “the inherent contradictions of a man who saw himself as trying to act humanely and justly while embracing a system of oppression that was, in its very nature, inhumane and unjust,” Karachuk said.
The volumes also will deal with the nation’s fraught Indian policy during the period, fueled by the prevalent Euro-American belief that the United States had the sovereign right to control native territory.
The historical research and publishing project is sponsored by UMW and administered under the James Monroe Museum. The project began in 1989 under the direction of founding editor Daniel Preston and is expected to conclude in 2035 with the publication of the final installment, Volume Ten, covering Monroe’s retirement.
Altogether, the volumes will include more than 5,000 documents placed in historical context and published both in print and online. The digital edition is produced by Rotunda, the digital imprint of the University of Virginia Press.