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MEMORANDUM

ON THE MONROE DOCTRINE

MEMORANDUM ON THE MONROE DOCTRINE STATEMENT OF THE DOCTRINE®

The Monroe Doctrine was announced by President Monroe in his annual message of December 2, 1823. The President had two main situations in mind: that which existed on the northwest coast of this continent where Russia was proposing to extend her control; and that which existed with reference to the Spanish colonies in the Western Hemisphere which had thrown off the Spanish yoke and as to which there was some agitation in Europe for cooperation among certain European powers to resubject these Spanish colonies to Spanish or other monarchical rule. But the President seems also to have had in mind, in a relation other than that incident to colonization, the whole Western Hemisphere, outside of the United States.

As to our northwest coast-President Monroe first called attention to the desire of Russia "to arrange by amicable negotiation the respective rights and interests of the two nations on the northwest coast of this continent" as to which she had made a similar proposal to Great Britain and then affirmed the friendly disposition of the United States towards Russia and our solicitude to cultivate "the best understanding" with the Government of the Emperor of Russia. He then declared:

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 maintained, are henceforth not to be considered as subjects for future colonization by any European powers.1

Later in his message, President Monroe called attention to the unsettled condition of European affairs, particularly with reference to Spain and Portugal, where the result which attended an effort to improve the people was not such as had been anticipated; and to the friendly sentiments entertained by the United States towards the liberty and happiness of their fellow men on the European side of the Atlantic, though we had never participated in their wars, "nor does it comport with our policy to do so." President Monroe then continued:

It is only when our rights are invaded or seriously menanced that we resent injuries or make preparation for our defense. With the movements

Richardson's Messages and Papers of the Presidents, vol. II, p. 209.

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in this hemisphere we are of necessity more immediately connected, and by causes which must be obvious to all enlightened and impartial observers. The political system of the allied powers is essentially different in this respect from that of America. This difference proceeds from that which exists in their respective Governments; and to the defense of our own, which has been achieved by the loss of so much blood and treasure, and matured by the wisdom of their most enlightened citizens, and under which we have enjoyed unexampled felicity, this whole nation is devoted. 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 towards the United States.2

Finally, after calling attention to our neutrality in the war between Spain and her colonies, to which we should continue to adhere "provided no change shall occur which, in the judgment of the competent authorities of this Government, shall make a corresponding change on the part of the United States indispensable in their security"; to the interposition "by force" of the allied powers" in the internal concerns of Spain"; to our policy, with reference to European wars, not to interfere in the internal concerns of any of its powers; to consider the government de facto as the legitimate government for us; to cultivate friendly relations with it, and to preserve those relations by a frank, firm, and manly policy, meeting in all instances the just claims of every power, submitting to injuries from none," President Monroe further declared,

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But in regard to those continents circumstances are eminently and conspicuously different. It is impossible that the allied powers should extend their political system to any portion of either continent without endangering our peace and happiness; nor can anyone believe that our southern brethren, if left to themselves, would adopt it of their own accord. It is equally impossible, therefore, that we should behold such interposition in any form with indifference. . . . It is still the true policy of the United States to leave the parties to themselves, in the hope that other powers will pursue the same course.

THE SIX PRIME POINTS OF THE DOCTRINE

An analysis of these declarations reveals that six prime matters are covered by President Monroe's message.

1. The "American continents" were not subject to colonization by any European power. This in terms certainly includes North

'Richardson's Messages and Papers of the Presidents, vol. 11, p. 218.

3 Ibid., p. 219.

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