Aim: Topic: United States Foreign Policy, President James Monroe Document #1 – New Crisis for the United States

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Topic: United States Foreign Policy, President James Monroe

Document #1 – New Crisis for the United States

After being recognized as a respectable country by Great Britain after the War of 1812, there were still other countries who wanted to test the young nation. This crisis came in the late 1810-1820’s when Latin American colonies (following the United States’ example) began to revolt against their mother countries (mostly against Spain’s large new world Empire). After they revolted, other European countries were preparing to re-conquer Spain’s old colonies. The United States did not want these countries (such as France and Portugal) to start coming into the Western Hemisphere and re-conquering and conquering new colonies, and re-establishing (re-creating) European control of politics and trade in the Western Hemisphere.

  1. What was the new crisis the United States faced after the war of 1812?

  1. Why did the United States not want the Europeans to create new colonies in the Western Hemisphere?

Document #2 - The Monroe Doctrine

Many United States politicians saw this threat as a chance to demonstrate the power and strength of the United States to the world. In 1823, President James Monroe, in his State of the Union Address (speech the President gives to Congress once a year), issued what would become known as the Monroe Doctrine – a powerful message to Europe stating the a new, more aggressive foreign policy of the United States.

Below, are excerpts from the Monroe Doctrine. Read the excerpts and identify the main points of the Monroe Doctrine

The Americans are no longer open for colonization by any European country”

. . . In the wars in Europe, the US has never gotten involved, nor do we plan to get involved. It is only when our rights are in danger that we will prepare our own defense. With any activities in the Americas, we have a reason to be involved. The political system of Europe is different from that in America. We declare that if Europe tries to spread its political system to any place in America, then the US will see that as a threat to our peace and safety. We will not interfere with any European colonies that already exist. But if Europe interferes, in countries that have declared their independence (Latin America), then we will see that as an unfriendly act toward the US.

. . . Our policy is to not interfere in the problems of Europe. But the problems of the Americas are different. Any action taken by Europe to get involved in the Americas is a direct threat to the peace and happiness of the US.”
What are the main points of the Monroe Doctrine?

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Document #3 -- Impact of the Monroe Doctrine

Fortunately for the United States, Great Britain wanted to trade with these new independent Latin American nations and supported President Monroe and enforced the Monroe Doctrine with the British Royal Navy. With Britain’s help, all of the European powers followed the Monroe Doctrine and stayed out of Latin America. However, the real importance of the Monroe Doctrine may be its many long term effects: the United States became a policeman to Latin America and would use its growing military and economy to both protect the new independent nations and influence many of their policies. Also, the idea of the United States controlling the Western Hemisphere would be the basis of American foreign policy for a long time - future Presidents would invoke (use) the Monroe Doctrine such as Theodore Roosevelt to build America’s foreign policy.

  1. How did the Monroe Doctrine increase the status and power of the United States?

  1. How did the Monroe Doctrine help to shape America’s future?

Document #4 - Isolationism or Imperialist?

Many people debate if the Monroe Doctrine was an example of President Monroe following George Washington’s policy of isolationism or if he was creating a new policy of American Expansionism and Imperialism (where a country expands its influence and expands at the expense of other countries).

Below are two opinions on the debate:

Opinion A: “Its [the Monroe Doctrine’s] object is to…keep out of our land all foreign powers, or never permitting those of Europe to [interfere] with the affairs of our nations. It is to maintain our own principles…”

From Thomas Jefferson’s private letters

Opinion B: “The Monroe Doctrine’s purpose was to commit the United States to a leadership [role] in world politics…especially over Latin America.”

George Dangerfield, historian, in his book, The Era of Good Feelings.

  1. What is the debate over the Monroe Doctrine?

  1. What does Quote “A” by Thomas Jefferson mean?

  1. What does Quote “B” by George Dangerfield mean?

  1. Who do you think has the best interpretation of the Monroe Doctrine? Why?

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