The Monroe Doctrine was a key component of early American foreign policy. Monroe Doctrine APUSH questions will require background knowledge on the global political climate at the time, including the focus of European powers in Latin America.
What is the Monroe Doctrine?
The Monroe Doctrine was a policy set forth by President James Monroe indicating that further colonization by Europe in the Western Hemisphere would be considered a hostile act. The Monroe Doctrine was a declaration made within Monroe’s State of the Union Address in 1823. In his address, Monroe indicated that the U.S. would isolate itself from European affairs, which included not interfering in existing European colonies on the American continents. Conversely, Monroe declared that Europe should not make any attempt to further colonize the Western Hemisphere, and that if Europe did try to colonize or else interfere in the governance of an American nation, the U.S. would consider it a hostile act.
The doctrine was precipitated by the foreseen attempt by Spain to reassert control in Latin America after much of the continent had for years been in revolt of colonial rule. Monroe was also concerned by Russia’s claims along the west coast of North America. Great Britain, wanting to secure its economic interests by keeping Spanish mercantilism out of the Americas, proposed that the U.S. and Great Britain make a joint statement opposing Spanish interference. Secretary of State John Quincy Adams, however, advised the president to assert America’s independence by making the proclamation alone.
Important year to note for the Monroe Doctrine:
1823: President Monroe issues the Monroe Doctrine
Why is the Monroe Doctrine so important?
When Monroe first imparted his doctrine, it was largely ignored outside of the U.S. and Great Britain because the U.S. did not have the naval might to back up such a proclamation. The doctrine, however, greatly influenced American foreign policy through the twentieth century, most notably the Venezuelan Crises and the Cold War conflicts. While first meant to denounce European colonialism in the Americas, it later became widely used as justification for the U.S. to enact and maintain a dominating sphere of control in the Western Hemisphere.
What are some historical people and events related to the Monroe Doctrine?
- James Monroe: President who first expressed the policy
- John Quincy Adams: Secretary of State who helped Monroe conceive and write his declaration
What example question about the Monroe Doctrine might come up on the APUSH exam?
“In the discussions to which this interest has given rise, and in the arrangements by which they may terminate, 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 maintain, are henceforth not to be considered as subjects for future colonization by any European power.”
– Journal of the Senate of the United States of America, December 2, 1823 (Source)
The Monroe Doctrine dictated that the United States should
A) aid Latin American colonies in their fight for independence from Spain.
B) take action against Russia’s encroachment on any lands south of Alaska.
C) involve itself diplomatically in the French and Belgian revolutions.
D) seek to expand its influence and control beyond the Western Hemisphere.
The correct answer is (B). The Monroe Doctrine as an isolationist doctrine that dictated that Europe should not interfere in the affairs of the Americas, and vice versa. Monroe asserted that future colonization was off limits for Europe, and that the U.S. would consider any attempt to establish new colonies on the American continents a hostile act. Additionally, the doctrine stated that the U.S. would not interfere with colonies already established, or with affairs in Europe. In part, the catalyst for Monroe expressing this policy was the fear that Russia would begin claiming land south of the 54°40′ parallel, encroaching on America’s claim on the Oregon Territory.