of political control over these countries. For the middle school DBQ, students will also analyze
an excerpt of the Monroe Doctrine and President Washington’s Farewell Speech of 1796.
The Hook: What motivates countries to respect the sovereignty of other countries? A good option to approach this question could be through classroom or small group discussion, journaling, or quick writes. Possible prompts are:
Countries as a role model (fair foreign policy, justice, democracy)
Student Background Information:
When the United States became a nation, its first President, George Washington, believed the
U.S. should isolate itself and U.S. foreign policy should focus on not interfering in foreign affairs, particularly in Europe. In 1823, President James Monroe and his Secretary of State John
Quincy Adams (who later became President) took this foreign policy statement a step further.
They not only wanted to avoid getting tangled in European conflicts, but the statement also gave a stern warning to Europe not to interfere in Western Hemisphere affairs. This “Monroe
Doctrine” asserted United States’ dominance in the Western Hemisphere, despite the fact that we were a young nation. Initially, British political and military support of this political stance made the assertion credible (and enforceable) in spite of the obvious weaknesses of the United States and its fledgling military.
At the time that Monroe crafted his speech (which later became known as the Monroe Doctrine), many European colonies in Central and South America (Latin America) had broken free from their European imperial powers (namely Spain and Portugal) in an outburst of independence movements. The United States was first to recognize and acknowledge the newly formed countries. In response, the Monroe Doctrine boldly prohibited any European effort to re-take former colonies or form new colonies in the Western Hemisphere. President Monroe stated that any new attempt by European imperial powers to take territory in the Western Hemisphere would be considered “dangerous to our peace and safety.” In turn, the U.S. promised not to intervene in European conflicts or to interfere in colonies that were already in existence.
Document 1:President George Washington’s Farewell Address, 1793
The Great rule of conduct for us, in regard to foreign nations is in extending our commercial relations to have with them as little political connection as possible…
relation… Why quit our own to stand upon foreign ground? – Why, by
interweaving our destiny with that of any part of Europe, entangle our peace and prosperity in the toils of European ambition… Tis our true policy to steer clear of permanent alliances, with any portion of the foreign world…
1. What does President Washington suggest the United States’ foreign policy should be?
2. What does Washington think is the danger of foreign entanglements?