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4147 HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

THE MONROE DOCTRINE

[Editor's Note: The brief extract here given is from the message of President

James Monroe to Congress, December, 1823. In these few simple words the

President gave expression to a policy forced upon the new nation by the circumstances of her situation. It marks the first seeming departure, as indicated in

the first paragraph, from the policy of avoiding all entanglements with European

nations, set forth so earnestly by Washington in his farewell address, and so

closely followed up to this time.

This policy, thus enunciated in simple phrase by President Monroe, was faithfully observed in letter and in spirit until, in 1917, the United States was compelled in self-defense to take up arms against the threatening aggressions of the

Prussian Powers of Europe. The war with Spain (1898) was in strict accord

with the Monroe Doctrine, since it was in opposition to Spanish aggression and

oppression in Cuba-American territory, though an island.]

In the wars of the European Power in matters relating to

themselves, we have never taken any part, nor does it comport

with our policy so to do. It is only when our rights are invaded, or seriously menaced, that we resent injuries, or make

preparations for our defense. With the movements 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 European 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.