Monroe Doctrine


The Monroe Doctrine can be considered as the United States first major
declaration to the world as a fairly new nation. The Monroe Doctrine was a
statement of United States policy on the activity and rights of powers in the

Western Hemisphere during the early to mid 1800s. The doctrine established the

United States position in the major world affairs of the time. Around the time
of the Napoleonic Wars in the 1820s, Mexico, Argentina, Chile and Colombia all
gained their independence from Spanish control ("Monroe Doctrine" 617). The

United States was the first nation to recognize their independence from Spain.

The European powers had still considered the new nations as still belonging to

Spain. The Americans had a sense of pride in the former Spanish colonies gaining
independence. They felt as if the American Revolution was a model for these new

Latin American nations (Faragher 265). After Napoleon went down, the monarchy in

Spain regained power ("Monroe Doctrine" 617). The Spanish had felt
embarrassed after losing their colonies to independence. In 1815 Tsar Alexander

I of Russia and the monarchs of Austria and Prussia formed the Holy Alliance.

This alliance was a group set out to maintain autocracy (Migill 594). Spain then
demanded the return of its colonies of the New World (Migill 594). With the
possibility of help from the Holy Alliance and France, Spain’s goal was
looking realistic. The Americans also feared that if the Spanish colonies were
recaptured the United States might be next ("Monroe Doctrine" 617). Great

Britain refused to let the Spanish take back their now independent colonies. As
free countries the new Spanish-American nations could trade more goods with

Great Britain. However, if Spain regains control of their former colonies then
trade with Great Britain would decrease drastically ("Monroe Doctrine" 617).

The Russian Tsar attempted to extend his interest of expansion in North America.

In 1821 Russia had claims on the North Western coast of the North American
continent as low as the 51st parallel, deep into the Oregon Territory (Migill

595). On September 14th of the same year Tsar Alexander I issued an Imperial

Ukase (decree), saying that no foreign vessels could come within 100 Italian
miles of Russian territory. Although the decree was never enforced, John Quincy

Adams, the Secretary of State at the time, strongly opposed it. Adams felt that
many regions of North America were still unexplored such as Alaska and North

Western Canada. On July 17th, 1823 John Q Adams declared that the United States
should contest Russia’s Imperial Ukase on the North American continent.

President James Monroe accepted John Q Adams’ statement and would go on to use
it in his message (Perkins 31). The British and the Americans both had reasons
to keep the Holy Alliance out of the New World. So, why not a joint declaration?

George Canning, a British Foreign Minister and a representative of British
trading interests, sent a message to the United States on August 20th, 1823. He
said that Spain would never recover their colonies, only time will allow the new
nations to be recognized and that England does not want the colonies nor wants
to see anyone else take control of them (Perkins 37). Richard Rush, an American

Minister, had been asked the question, by George Canning, if he could make a
joint declaration between the United States and Great Britain. Rush was startled
by Canning’s proposition, since it had been only 40 years since the American

Revolution and the War of 1812 was just awhile back (May 3). At first without
consulting John Q. Adams he had agreed to. President Monroe favored this idea
along with former presidents Jefferson and Madison. Jefferson had said with

Great Britain, "on our side, we not fear the world" ("Monroe Doctrine"

617). Although Great Britain and the United States were on the same track, they
had differences. The United States had recognized the colonies as new nations
and Great Britain had not (Perkins 37). George Canning said that Great Britain
would use their powerful Royal Navy to stop European intervention whether or not
they had a joint declaration ("Monroe Doctrine" 617). Then on October 12th,

1823 Canning had a number of meetings with Prince Jules de Polignac who was a

French ambassador in London. Their meetings concluded with the Polignac

Memorandum, saying that France would not help Spain regain her lost colonies.

All of this hindered the action toward cooperation. John Q. Adams had opposed
the issue of a joint statement with the British (Migill 595). Adams asked,

"Why should the United States appear as a cockboat in the wake of a British
man-of-war?" (Perkins