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This mural depicts a discussion among the president and members of his cabinet; from left to right are President James Monroe, Secretary of State John Quincy Adams, Attorney General William Wirt, Secretary of War John Calhoun, and Secretary of the Navy Samuel L. Southard. Left: Simón Bolívar, who fought for the independence of many Spanish colonies in South America, represents a commitment to liberty. Right: Greek freedom fighters, who were aided by Russia, Britain, and France in gaining autonomy from the Ottoman Empire, symbolize the struggle for freedom around the globe.
The Monroe Doctrine, 1823. Allyn Cox. https://www.aoc.gov/explore-capitol-campus/art/monroe-doctrine-1823

The 200th Anniversary of the Monroe Doctrine – Pic of the Week

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Tomorrow, December 2, 2023, marks 200 years since President Monroe addressed Congress at the State of the Union and articulated what would become the Monroe Doctrine. This doctrine shaped the United States’ foreign policy for the next century.

In the address, President Monroe outlined a new foreign policy with three main concepts:

  • “separate spheres of influence for the Americas and Europe,
  • non-colonization,
  • and non-intervention.”

Additionally, the doctrine served as a warning to European powers against interfering with the newly independent Latin American states.

script in longhand writing
Message of President James Monroe at the commencement of the first session of the 18th Congress (The Monroe Doctrine), 12/02/1823; Presidential Messages of the 18th Congress, ca. 12/02/1823-ca. 03/03/1825; Record Group 46; Records of the United States Senate, 1789-1990; National Archives.

 

Although initially largely ignored outside the United States and invoked rarely, this doctrine was expanded under President Polk to the idea of Manifest Destiny and President Theodore Roosevelt added the Roosevelt Corollary to the Monroe Doctrine, expanding Monroe’s original ideas.

Print shows James Monroe, head-and-shoulders portrait, facing slightly left; in oval.
James Monroe, born 1758, died 1831 – president 1817-1825, author of the Monroe doctrine. Feb. 20, 1897. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/pga.07238

 

For more information, the Library of Congress has a research guide with great primary sources and a search result on our website brings up many interesting perspectives including editorial cartoons and rebuttals.

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