Skip to content


Ariana Alban Mejía

"What is the Monroe Doctrine?"

- The Doctrine is based on opposition to colonialism and states that any European intervention in the region would be considered an act of aggression against the United States

"What is the Monroe Doctrine?"

The Monroe Doctrine was elaborated by the Secretary of State, John Quincy Adams and was part of the North American message of President James Monroe made on December 2, 1823 in the United States Congress, where the motto was included: "America for the Americans ». At the beginning of its foreign policy, it did not have a predominant role due to the military weakness and the preponderance of the country's internal affairs during the 1800s (Casanueva 2007). Subsequently, based on this, anti-colonialist actions and the country's influence on the continent were strengthened. It should be noted that the Doctrine shaped the expansion of American thought around the geographical, economic and sociopolitical separation of America.

This is how the Doctrine lays its foundations against colonialism and provides that any European intervention in the region would be considered an act of aggression against the United States, as well as a process of expansion that endangered American peace and security. According to David Tah Ayala (2021), since its formation as a country, one of the US interests has been the search for influence over new territories in relation to its international affairs, through geostrategic positions, such as the Monroe Doctrine. The same author mentions that the doctrine has four essential points for its proper functioning:

  • The American continent as an independent agent and outside the European scope.
  • The non-intervention of the United States in the colonization or independence of the American countries from European powers.
  • Expansion attempts by European powers will be considered threats to US security
  • The non-intervention of the United States in the internal affairs of European countries.

Origins of the Doctrine

The background of the Monroe Doctrine can be traced back to 1815 before the defeat of Napoleon Bonaparte by the alliance between England, Russia, Austria and Prussia, since this historical event led to the reconfiguration of pre-revolutionary Europe. Subsequently, a system of congresses was established in 1818 with the aim of guaranteeing peace. One of the most controversial was the Verona Congress of 1822, where the leaders of the European restoration saw the new liberal government of Spain as a threat. That is why the armed intervention of France is approved and by 1823 the Spanish monarch, Fernando VII, is restored.

In this context, England feared that her interests were in danger due to the possibility of the support that the powers could provide to Spain for the recovery of her colonies in America. It should be noted that London had increased its commercial influence in the area since the region's independence. In this sense, England offers the United States the elaboration of a joint declaration of opposition against European interventionism in America. (Casanueva 2007) On the other hand, from the historical evolution of US policies, the search for an expansion of its system and ideas to influence the international scene is perceived. In relation to their society we find the emergence of values such as equality and ethnic belonging around a single language wrapped in the conceptions of democracy, individualism and morality. These values and conceptions shaped the daily life of Americans and the formation of a system that includes the development of capitalism, industrialization, and social mobilization (Tah Ayala 2021). In addition, it formed the basis of the national ideology, which has expanded through the country's foreign policy.

Impact of the Monroe Doctrine

The doctrine has determined the success of the United States to configure itself as an international power. It has even led to the formation of Manifest Destiny, the Roosevelt Corollary, and the shift in foreign policy toward "The Big Stick." As a first point, Marcos Moreira, Alcívar and Calderón (2014) detail that Manifest Destiny was publicly established in 1845 by journalist John Sullivan's article and established the propagation of the democratic system and freedom as the divine mission of the American country. This serves as a justification for US expansionism from an evangelical position.

Next, the Theodore Roosevelt Corollary was proclaimed in 1904 before the naval blockade of Great Britain, Germany and Italy on Venezuela. The president maintained a much more direct position on US intervention in the territory of the region, for which he argued for the protection of Latin American countries from European attacks, on the condition of generating regional stability. (Solana, 2020)

Likewise, through this corollary, the foreign policy called "El Gran Garrote" or "The policy of the Garrote" was modified and strengthened, which justified the intervention of the United States in defense of United States citizens who were in Latin American territory (Moreira, Alcívar and Calderón, 2014). On the other hand, it influenced the region to prioritize trade relations with North American companies, which was called "dollar diplomacy." In addition, it must be considered that, despite the continental protection plans against European intervention, the United States maintained a position in accordance with its interests, such as the annexation of Texas in 1845:


    Casanueva, Rocío. «La Doctrina Monroe: su significado y aplicación durante el Siglo XIX». *Universidad Iberoamericana*. 2007.

    Moreira Marcos, Carlos Alcívar y Juan Calderón. «El Destino Manifiesta y la Doctrina Monroe: Teorías que influyeron en la pérdida de influencia de la política norteamericana en los países de América Latina en el siglo 21», *Contribuciones a las Ciencias Sociales*. 2014.

    Solana, María. «6 de diciembre de 1904. De la Doctrina Monroe al Corolario de Roosevelt», *Instituto de Relaciones Internacionales Universidad Nacional de La Plata*. 2020.

    Tah Ayala, David. «El principio de no intervención en América Latina: el corolario Roosevelt y la Doctrina Drago», *El Colegio Jalisco*. 2021. 21: 173-195.

The best content in your inbox

Join our newsletter with the best of CEMERI

Related articles

Alban, Ariana. “¿Qué es la Doctrina Monroe?.” CEMERI, 6 sept. 2022,