QUESTION: Discuss the creation of the Monroe Doctrine and how its birth shaped U.S. foreign policy from the 1820’s through the American Civil War. Be sure to include the key players and their various motives in creating or using this important document.
The Monroe Doctrine
History during the early 1800’s found the American people very interested in the situation involving the Latin American countries found in central, South America, and Mexico. Though these Latin countries tried to establish their own government and proclaimed their independence, certain European countries continued to fight and reinstate their force and power over them. A major factor to consider was that France and Spain were considering joining forces to create a large and powerful military force, also in hopes of moving in to reclaim the areas of Latin states in which French or Spanish power had slipped.
Americans were showing equal concern to the defense of their own country, their coastlines and the states and territory of the North American continent. This defense, not only in the meaning of protecting their colonized states from invasive forces, but defense also to protect the available land on the continent from the future possibilities of settlement and control by European countries or the Holy Alliance (Russia, Prussia and Austria.)
During President James Monroe’s term, the president realized the States should start to exert power in the world. The States must develop a policy to protect his country’s interests. President Monroe chose to consult with many of those he found wise and those whose opinions he valued (former President Thomas Jefferson, John Calhoun and James Madison, and Secretary John Quincy Adams.
Great Britain tried to collaborate with the United States, hoping to send out a joint message to other European countries and the Holy Alliance. All but the Secretary of State agreed it would be in the best interest of the States to ally with Great Britain. The thought was to create a document or declaration stating the land on the northern continent of America could no longer be claimed by any European country, or the Holy Alliance. It was also clearly expressed Europe or the Holy Alliance should not interfere with into American affairs and could expect the United States would not become involved in the business of other countries. There would be no tolerance of those who chose to ignore or interfere with all that was set forth in this document. Colonization of the land and territories by Americans was acceptable; growth was expected, especially to the north and west. The population of the states, at that time, was expanding and settled land was becoming crowded.
Great Britain, though perhaps not too happy to relinquish any powers or rights to colonize any territory in the American territory, offered support to the implementation of a diplomatic document issued regarding this issue.
President James Monroe governed the States with an intelligent and fair leadership. There are two things for which he is named and perhaps best known, Fort Monroe and the Monroe Doctrine. Both Fort Monroe and the Monroe Doctrine were both created in the hopes of deterring future attacks on the States, seen in the burning of Washington and during the colonization of the territories of the country. Fort Monroe developed as a coastal defensive port, a stronghold against foreign military advances. The Monroe Doctrine developed as a defensive mechanism against European countries and the Holy Alliance, countries dominating in world power and continuing to pursue land in the western hemisphere.
James Monroe grew up as a planter and later became a military officer. His military career was considered unsuccessful by most, his job was to enlist soldiers into the war and his success rate was low. He later served as senator and governor of Virginia and was assigned to duty overseas by President Thomas Jefferson. He increased his political knowledge by gaining valuable knowledge in his legal profession and while performing as a liaison to foreign countries. However, along with this knowledge he brought the character traits of honest and integrity, along with respect for the government and for his country. Combined, President Monroe possessed many attributes which helped to pave the way for his future career as the nation’s president.
Monroe served for two presidential terms. He led the country with these traits, placing the rights of the people above his own. “One of his lasting achievements was the Monroe Doctrine, which became a major tenet of U.S. foreign policy in the Western Hemisphere.” (para 1, Biography: A Life in Brief) During his second term he, along with his Secretary of State. John Quincy Adams, worked together to create the Monroe Doctrine. During President Monroe’s last message to Congress, in 1823, the Monroe Doctrine was presented.
JOHN QUINCY ADAMS
John Quincy Adams played a very important part in the production of the Monroe Doctrine. Very early in his career Mr. Adams, a Harvard graduate, was selected and assigned overseas to diplomatic posts overseas. Many years were spent abroad; Mr. Adams achieved success serving in political assignments. “One of the most important lessons he learned while serving abroad was that the United States should not become caught become rivalries that exist between European companies.” (para 2, John Quincy Adams) Remaining in politics, John Quincy Adams decided to run for the Senate. He was elected with the support of the Federalist Party. He later lost their support when he vocalized support for President Thomas Jefferson and his embargo. True to Mr. Adam’s lessons learned while serving overseas, the embargo was for neutrality while England and France were at war.
Mr. Adams was chosen to become the Secretary of State for President James Monroe. John Quincy Adams believed the States should remain neutral and should protect the natural resources; these ideas were very similar to those shared by President Monroe. The Secretary of State’s knowledge and philosophies were very instrumental in many political negotiations and in the development of documents and treaties. His career as Secretary of State was considered very successful. One of his great accomplishments (other than the Monroe Doctrine) was the peace treaty of Ghent.
While serving as Secretary of State during the early 1800’s, Mr. Adams helped to negotiate the acquisition of land which had previously owned by other countries, to include the purchase of Florida. It was during this term that President Monroe and Secretary of State Adams felt it was in the best interest of the States for the declaration, later to be known as the Monroe Doctrine, to be created. Hoping to stop the advancement of colonization by Europe and the Holy Alliance, the government would issue this doctrine during Monroe’s second term. The declaration announcing the States would not become entangled in or take sides during disputes between other countries would also allow the American country a chance to build a reputation as an independent nation. While others counseled President Monroe during the creation stages of the document, it was the opinion of Mr. Adams on which the president relied. The ideas used were more truly devised by both the president and Mr. Adams.
They were in agreement that not only should the doctrine include a warning, there would be no future colonization of the States by European countries or the Holy Alliance, but also that there should be no involvement in United States affairs and the United States would not get involved in the affairs of other countries.
John Quincy Adams also had some political motives for implementing the doctrine during the term of President Monroe. Mr. Adams planned to run for the presidency as a Republican. Having the doctrine issued by Monroe, Adams was able to have the policies put into effect and yet he would not seem to the public as though he was pro-British, at a time when the Republicans would not have approved.
President Monroe chose Thomas Jefferson for advice. He asked what Jefferson’s opinion was towards allowing Great Britain be a joint party in the development of a doctrine. Mr. Jefferson answered by writing a letter to the president. Thomas Jefferson also felt it was time the States controlled their own continent, without interference from other powers. He also stated he continued to think that Great Britain was such a powerful force that if they were not included, they may take action against the States.
He wrote it would be a huge step in the forward movement of the United States if they were to have the ability to expand to their borders and have the opportunity to increase their states and colonies by decreasing the hold of other countries. He was hesitant because of the power of these same countries. “Both Jefferson and former president James Madison, whom Monroe also consulted, recommended cooperation with Britain. However, Monroe’s Secretary of State, John Quincy Adams, was more cautious.” (para 4, Today in History)
GEORGE CANNING (British Foreign Minister)
During the development of the Monroe Doctrine Great Britain was extremely concerned with Spain and France and their pressure on the Latin countries. Great Britain did not want to lose ground, many of their politicians worked and negotiated against these countries, decreasing their control in the western hemisphere. Both France and Spain were once again trying to assert their power over these countries in Central, South America, and Mexico.
Great Britain did not want this to happen. “Britain, prospering from newly opened Latin American trade, opposed this move. In 1823, Foreign Minister George Canning proposed, through Richard Rush, the American minister, the two nations jointly express their hostility to intervention.” (para 2, Monroe, James) They presented their developing idea of a proclamation protecting the interests of the States. Trying to preserve some political interests of Great Britain, George Canning presented an idea that together the States and Great Britain present a joint proclamation, this would allow Great Britain the rights to colonize Latin countries.
Great Britain would benefit from the increased commerce from the Latin countries and the continued trade with the states, so, even though President Monroe gave a negative response to the offer of a joint declaration, Great Britain was still supportive of the Monroe Doctrine. How the Birth of the Monroe Doctrine Shaped US Foreign Policy from 1820’s through the Civil War.
The Monroe Doctrine was issued in 1823 by President Monroe during his last address to Congress. Later in history it was realized there may have been no way to actually implement the consequences, if the Monroe Doctrine was dismissed by Europe and the Holy Alliance. However; it was successful, those countries did accept and abide by the doctrine initially.
In later years, during the country’s expansion the doctrine became less substantial. There were times when it was used to the benefit of the country and other occasions when it did not prove to be the answer.
During the early 1830’s Great Britain claimed alliance with Texas and the Monroe Doctrine was interjected, as reminder and a means of substantiating the diplomatic rights of the United States. When the Doctrine was issued Great Britain still controlled colonies and territories in the west (Oregon, California). Settlers began to move west and challenged the British rights. Two succeeding presidents, President Tyler and President Polk were determined to find a means to loosen the control of Britain in the west. Evoking the Monroe Doctrine, each president faced Great Britain, requesting acknowledgement of the proclamation. Using the doctrine to protect the Latin states was not so positive, when used to address the fight between Spain and the Dominican Republic.
The creation of the Monroe Doctrine changed not only the history of the States but perhaps the history of the world. Declaring that Europe and the Holy Alliance could no longer interfere with the Latin countries allowed these new countries the time they needed to develop their countries, their business, and their trade and shipping markets. Since commerce and shipping was no longer dominated by the larger countries, this allowed the States an opportunity to grow and develop in the trade market also. This time and confidence allowed them to develop their own naval military powers also. The initiation and implementation of such a wise first move in foreign policy was one of many that helped to build the United States into a forceful power.
Biography: A Life in Brief. James Monroe. American Presidents. para 1. Updated April 26, 2005, from: http://www.americanpresident.org/history/jamesmonroe/
“John Quincy Adams”. John-Quincy-Adams.com. para 2. Retrieved September 7, 2005, http://www.john-quincy-adams.com
Today in History, October 17. American Memory. Library of Congress, para 4. (Retrieved September 7, 2005 from: http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/today/oct17.html
Monroe, James. The American Presidency. Encyclopedia Americana 2005 para 2 Retrieved September 8, 2005, http://ap.grolier.com/article?assetid=0275240-00&templatename=/article/article.html