Many different documents have worked to shape our nation, including the Monroe Doctrine. American foreign policy has always remained relatively standardized, but few people know, or remember, the reason why this is the case. The Monroe Doctrine, included in “President James Monroe’s 1823 annual message to Congress contained the Monroe Doctrine, which warned European powers not to interfere in the affairs of the Western Hemisphere” (OurDocuments.gov, 2013).
The American Revolution had taken place, followed in quick succession by the Latin American countries breaking free, after decades of oppression, from their colonizers in Europe. Monroe, having studied at the side of Jefferson, wished to work to make sure that a situation could not reoccur wherein any of the Americas came under colonial rule by Europe once more. The purpose of the creation of the Monroe Doctrine was to work to distance America from the affairs of Europe; not only did “European mercantilism pose the greatest obstacle to economic expansion” and the European countries would try to “reassert colonialism over the Latin American people who had just overthrown European rule” (Office of the Historian, 2013).
By working to address the issue before it became an issue, the major provisions demanded by Monroe included “separate spheres of influence for the Americas and Europe, non-colonization, and non-intervention, creating “a clear break” between the two regions (Office of the Historian, 2013).
The Monroe Doctrine worked to clearly address the American concern regarding peace and safety. The new nation wished the surety that Europe would not attempt to take over once more, providing it with the availability of focusing on working to build up the country instead of having to watch their backs. The Monroe Doctrine, in essence, gave Americans the ability to be free, to work to do what they needed to do without constant fear of the past repeating itself.
The Monroe Doctrine worked not only to offer a measure of peace and safety to the American public, but worked at the same time to continue to spread the message of and the policy of neutrality firmly established by George Washington. The Doctrine divides the world in two, stating that the Americas will concern themselves with the Americas and Europe should concern itself with Europe; it indicates that Europe should not meddle in the business of the Americas, and America will not meddle in the business of the Europeans. This type of clean split, this message of neutrality, works to ensure that Europe could handle its own affairs without fear of repercussion from the Americas, providing Europe with its own measure of security as well.
The Monroe Doctrine had long term effects as well; “by the mid-1800s, Monroe’s declaration, combined with the ideas of Manifest Destiny, provided precedent and support for U.S. expansion on the American continent. In the late 1800s, U.S. economic and military power enabled it to enforce the Monroe Doctrine. The doctrine’s greatest extension came with Theodore Roosevelt’s Corollary; which inverted the original meaning of the doctrine and came to justify unilateral U.S. intervention in Latin America” (Office of the Historian, 2013). Monroe’s work served not only to protect a budding nation, but to protect the interests of the Western hemisphere, allowing the country time to grow into what she would become. It served as a basis for foreign policy, and served to benefit neighboring countries in their time of need, making it one of the great and important documents of our nation.