TheMonroe Doctrinewas aUnited States policy of opposingEuropean colonialismin theAmericasbeginning in 1823. It stated that further efforts by European nations to take control of any independent state in North or South America would be viewed as “the manifestation of an unfriendly disposition toward the United States.” At the same time, the doctrine noted that the U.S. would recognize and not interfere with existing European colonies nor meddle in the internal concerns of European countries. The Doctrine was issued on December 2, 1823 at a time when nearly allLatin Americancolonies of Spain and Portugal had achieved, or were at the point of gaining,independencefrom thePortugueseandSpanish Empires.
PresidentJames Monroefirst stated thedoctrineduring his seventh annualState of the Union AddresstoCongress. The term “Monroe Doctrine” itself was coined in 1850. By the end of the 19th century, Monroe’s declaration was seen as a defining moment in theforeign policy of the United Statesand one of its longest-standing tenets. It would be invoked by many U.S. statesmen and several U.S. presidents, includingUlysses S. Grant,Theodore Roosevelt,John F. Kennedy, andRonald Reagan. The intent and impact of the Monroe Doctrine persisted with only small variations for more than a century. Its stated objective was to free the newly independent colonies of Latin America from European intervention and avoid situations which could make theNew Worlda battleground for theOld Worldpowers, so that the U.S. could exert its own influence undisturbed. The doctrine asserted that the New World and the Old World were to remain distinctly separatespheres of influence, for they were composed of entirely separate and independent nations.
After 1898, Latin American lawyers and intellectuals reinterpreted the Monroe doctrine in terms ofmultilateralismandnon-intervention. In 1933, under PresidentFranklin D. Roosevelt, the U.S. went along with the new reinterpretation, especially in terms of theOrganization of American States.
The U.S. government feared the victorious European powers that emerged from theCongress of Vienna(1814–1815) would revive themonarchicalgovernment.France had already agreed to restore theSpanish monarchyin exchange forCuba. As the revolutionaryNapoleonic Wars(1803–1815) ended,Prussia,Austria, andRussiaformed theHoly Allianceto defend monarchism. In particular, the Holy Alliance authorized military incursions to re-establishBourbonrule overSpainand its colonies,which were establishing their independence.
Great Britain shared the general objective of the Monroe Doctrine, albeit from an opposite standpoint and ultimate aim, and even wanted to declare a joint statement to keep other European powers from further colonizing the New World. The British Foreign SecretaryGeorge Canningwanted to keep the other European powers out of the New World fearing that its trade with the New World would be harmed if the other European powers further colonized it. In fact, for many years after the Monroe Doctrine took effect, Britain, through theRoyal Navy, was the sole nation enforcing it, the U.S. lacking sufficient naval capability. Allowing Spain to re-establish control of its former colonies would have cut Great Britain off from its profitable trade with the region. For that reason, Canning proposed to the U.S. that they mutually declare and enforce a policy of separating the New World from the Old. The U.S. resisted a joint statement because of the recent memory of theWar of 1812, leading to the Monroe administration’s unilateral statement.
However, the immediate provocation was the RussianUkase of 1821asserting rights to thePacific Northwestand forbidding non-Russian ships from approaching the coast.
Reference: “The Monroe Doctrine (1823)”.Basic Readings in U.S. Democracy. United States Department of State. Archived Herring, George C. (2008).From Colony to Superpower: U.S. Foreign Relations Since 1776. New York: Oxford University Press.ISBN9780195078220.