Little Bits of History


Posted in History by patriciahysell on December 2, 2014
The Monroe Doctrine

The Monroe Doctrine

December 2, 1823: US President James Monroe formally announces to Congress what will become known as the Monroe Doctrine. The basic premise as stated by the President was the noninterference of America from future European affairs. The US would remain neutral in European wars and wars between European powers and/or their colonies. If European powers interfered with independent countries or attempted to colonize in the Americas, the US would consider these infringements to be hostile acts. The speech is considered to be Monroe’s greatest contribution to history. It was written by John Quincy Adams who designed the doctrine in agreement with Britain.

The doctrine established the separate natures of the Americas from Europe and allowed for the development of territories in North and South America without threat from European powers while guaranteeing those powers freedom in Europe to do as they so chose. By 1823, nearly all Latin American colonies of Spain and Portugal had gained independence with Peru and Bolivia close to achieving that status. Only Cuba and Puerto Rico remained under Spanish rule. The US and Britain were hoping no other European powers would colonize in the Americas. The term “Monroe Doctrine” was not imparted until the 1850s although it had already become the defining characteristic of US foreign policy.

In 1823, the US was not a military threat as it had neither a credible navy nor a standing army. Internationally, the doctrine was met with indifference by most of the world. The British government gave its approval, of course, since they were consulted in the formation of the policy. This was the first of many opportunities for the US and Great Britain to form a “Special Relationship” displayed over time with the two nations often working in concert. Latin America found the Monroe Doctrine to be a boon to their continuing movement toward independence from European control even as they realized the President of the US had little power, especially without the backing of Britain.

At the time of the speech, the proclamation was seen as a moral opposition to colonialism. This was especially so by the author, then Secretary of State and future President Adams. The Doctrine was reinterpreted by later leaders and as the United States became a world power, it became more important to European nations. The premise has been used throughout the rest of US history with John Kerry invoking the unified Americas ideal in a speech in November 2013 before the Organization of American States. The mutual partnership of American nations was more in line with the original intent of Monroe than some of the intervening uses of the doctrine.

The occasion has been judged proper for asserting, as a principle in which the rights and interests of the United States are involved, that the American continents, by the free and independent condition which they have assumed and maintain, are henceforth not to be considered as subjects for future colonization by any European powers.

We owe it, therefore, to candor and to the amicable relations existing between the United States and those powers to declare that we should consider any attempt on their part to extend their system to any portion of this hemisphere as dangerous to our peace and safety.

With the existing colonies or dependencies of any European power we have not interfered and shall not interfere.

But with the Governments who have declared their independence and maintained it, and whose independence we have, on great consideration and on just principles, acknowledged, we could not view any interposition for the purpose of oppressing them, or controlling in any other manner their destiny, by any European power in any other light than as the manifestation of an unfriendly disposition toward the United States. – all from the Monroe Doctrine

Also on this day: Cleanliness Is Next to Godliness – In 1970, the Environmental Protection Agency opens for business.
Colombian Coke – In 1993, Pablo Escobar was killed in a shootout.
Power Run – In 1956, Fiedel Castro and Che Guevara arrived in Cuba.
Prayer – In 1763, the Touro Synagogue, the oldest surviving synagogue in the US, was dedicated.


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