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Elizabeth Monroe was popular in France as the wife of diplomat James Monroe. As first lady, her sophisticated style was often mistaken for aloofness.
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In 1817, James Monroe was elected president, and Elizabeth showed herself to be an accomplished first lady. Drawing upon their time in Europe, the Monroes introduced a more formal style to White House social events. However, during much of this time, Elizabeth's poor health forced her to decline many social invitations. This, and her reserved personality,
often led to the erroneous conclusion that she was neglecting her social duties or was aloof. Though there is little direct record of her influence in the Monroe administration, she was a constant partner to her husband and shared his passion for public service in the best interests of the country. Her elevating the social customs at the White House set the standard for first ladies who followed.
At the end of Monroe's two terms, Elizabeth was in such poor health that she and her husband had to remain in the White House three weeks after his administration expired. In 1825, they retired to their plantation estate in Virginia, where she concentrated exclusively on her family. A year later, she suffered a seizure and collapsed near an open fireplace and was severely burned. She lived only three years after and died on September 23, 1830, at her home.
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