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Monroe Doctrine | Study Guide

James Monroe

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James Monroe

Year Delivered



Primary Source


History, Speech

At a Glance

  • By 1823, only 40 years after its independence from Britain, the United States sought to prevent European intervention and further colonization in North and South America.
  • U.S. president James Monroe (1758–1831) included a foreign policy declaration in his seventh annual speech to Congress on December 2, 1823. It would later become known as the Monroe Doctrine. Secretary of State John Quincy Adams (1767–1848) was instrumental in its formulation.
  • The doctrine made four main points. First, it closed off the Americas to additional colonization. Second, it said the United States would not get involved in the affairs of the Old World European powers. Third, it recognized established European colonies. Finally, it warned Europe that interference in the New World of the Americas would be viewed as an act of aggression.
  • Though the doctrine sparked debates, most Americans approved of it. Abroad, the doctrine had little immediate impact on foreign relations because the major European powers mainly ignored it. In time the doctrine would play an important role in American foreign policy.
  • In 1904 President Theodore Roosevelt (1858–1919) expanded the doctrine with his Roosevelt Corollary. This corollary allowed the United States to become a policing power over Latin America, leading the United States to frequently intervene in Latin American affairs in the 20th century.


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