Forging these United States
James Monroe, December 2, 1823 Seventh Annual Message (Monroe Doctrine)
About This Text
Author: James Monroe
Composed: 1823 CE
The “Monroe Doctrine” is the name given to the approach to foreign policy outlined in President James Monroe’s seventh State of the Union Address. Written largely by his Secretary of State John Quincy Adams, Monroe’s address came at a time when many Central and South American colonies were gaining independence from their former European colonizers. Monroe declared that the United States would take steps to ensure they remained independent and that the U.S. would not tolerate future intervention or colonization by European powers in the Americas. This posture was a matter of both moral principle and strategic interest: European intervention in a neighboring nation could be a harbinger of direct threats to America, and America was duty bound to defend the sovereignty and liberty of its fledgling democratic neighbors. While the Monroe doctrine was difficult to enforce in the years immediately following the State of the Union Address, the strategic posture endorsed by Monroe in this speech has been the basis of U.S. foreign policy in the Western Hemisphere ever since.