Free The Monroe Doctrine And Its Long-Term Effect Research Paper Example

Type of paper: Research Paper

Topic: United States, Theory, Doctrine, Belief, America, Monroe Doctrine, Europe, England

Pages: 5

Words: 1375

Published: 2020/11/20

The Monroe Doctrine was presented by US President James Monroe on the 2nd of December 1823 in his seventh State of the Nation address to Congress. In the first section of the declaration to Congress, he stated that the United States and nations on the American continent should not be subjected to further colonization by European Powers. Secondly, the United States was not going to interfere in existing colonies in the Americas, but would ensure that all liberated colonies from Spain and Portugal are allowed to have their rights to self-rule. The purpose of this paper is to examine the background and history of the Monroe Doctrine as the statement became known as and the long term effects of the Monroe Doctrine

Factors that Led to the Monroe Doctrine

The United States had become independent of its British colonialists in 1776. And this was inspired by the need to institute the rule of law and protect the civil liberties of all the people of the United States. Around the time the United States gained independence, France went through a Revolution and Napoleon Bonaparte took over at the end of the 18th Century. This led to the creation of a unified France and an attempt to clinch onto an expansionist policy which was aimed at liberating nations in Europe and imposing French rule.
The Napoleonic War came at a cost to the main powers of Europe and due to this, France, Spain and Portugal had major hitches in their finances and military that prevented them from maintaining a full grip on their colonies. Therefore, a lot of European colonies in the Americas had either gained independence or they were on the verge of gaining independence when the war was nearing its end in the mid 1810s. First of all, Napoleon sold its former colony, Louisiana to assist his war effort to the United States and they lost their colony of St. Dominigue (now Haiti) after slave revolutions.
Napoleon used most of the military resources he took from the United States which was declared neutral in the war to cause the demise of the Spanish Empire and this made Spain lose its status as a global empire. Thus, most of Spain’s colonies in the New World were declared independent and the influence of the Spanish Crown in the Americas waned.
Although the United States had declared they were neutral in the Napoleonic wars, they were seen to be the greatest supporters of Napoleon due to the payment the made for Louisiana and other things. France had also assisted the United States in their fight for independence, thus, they had some kind of moral obligation to Napoleon. Therefore, the United States had to be cautious after the war ended with Napoleon losing that war.
After the war, Prussia, Austria and Russia established the “Holy Alliance” which was designed to get these kingdoms to restore their monarchies and also take over from the Spanish colonies. On the other hand, when France resolved to restore the Spanish monarchy in return for Cuba, it became apparent that Spain might have an ambition to re-colonize some of its lost colonies in the Americas.
The Monroe Doctrine was therefore a tool and a system through which the United States could prevent this from happening. This is because most of the states that were independent from the European powers were fragile and they did not have the means to protect their national sovereignty. And with the European powers out of the war, they were likely to have the power to re-conquer nations they once ruled. Therefore, there was the need for some kind of intervention and guarantee to prevent these European nations from invading the Americas.
Britain was the first and only country to openly support the Monroe Doctrine. Obviously, Britain had changed its line of trade with the New World, this is because British sugar plantations in the West Indies were not profitable anymore due to issues that had occurred in recent times that had affected the sugar trade. Also, Britain was not profiting from the slave trade which had been banned in Britain and was effectively outlawed in America.
Britain’s ambition was to develop a new trading system where they could rely on the advanced technology and production system that was springing up due to the Industrial Revolution. With that competitive advantage, Britain was sure that it could produce a lot of processed goods and saw the Americas as an appropriate market through which they could sell these goods and make huge profits. Therefore, having European colonial powers in the region was going to be against their best interest. Thus, they supported the Monroe Doctrine and ensured that all European powers were kept at bay and prevented from invading the former colonies of the Americas.

Impacts of the Monroe-Doctrine

The Monroe Doctrine was largely ignored by the powers that existed in that period and time. This is because the United States did not have a functioning army or a navy. Hence, they were seen to be incapable of carrying out their threats in the Doctrine. Thus, most countries that were concerned with the doctrine did not really pay particular attention to it.
On the other hand Britain was implementing the theories of Capitalistic trade and the ideas of the “invisible hand” presented by Adam Smith and others, ahead of mercantilism which was the economic backbone of colonialism. Therefore, Britain offered to patrol sensitive pointers of the Atlantic Ocean with their navy which was the most powerful at that time.
The Monroe Doctrine was therefore a basis through which Britain could ensure that they could meet their fundamental end of patrolling the Ocean to avoid major breaches like the export of slaves as well as other signs of invasion by any European power. Latin American nations turned on to Britain rather than the United States for support and the immediate protection of their independence in 1824.
Concerning the recognition of the new Latin American states like Brazil and Colombia, the US Congress was even hesitant to recognize them because they stated it was not in their power to cause these nations to gain further advantage or rebel. Therefore, the only practical solution after the Monroe Doctrine came to force was to look towards Britain for some kind of support and intervention to protect their national sovereignty as nations in Latin America.
The immediate impact of the Monroe Doctrine was that it provided some kind of protectorate status and assurance that nations in Latin America will be able to maintain their republican model. Therefore, it set the stage for the United States to come out of the shadows as a country that was isolated from the rest of the world. Rather, it allowed the United States to assert itself as a nation that sought to influence other nations around the Americas to achieve a status similar to what they had achieved after the Revolution. The republican model of states was established as an appropriate model for nations in the region. To a large extent, this was the most important and the most fundamental means through which the newly-independent nations in the Western hemisphere could create the right foundation for statehood.
Technically, the Monroe Doctrine did not really seek to have any impetus for implementation until after the American Civil War when numerous structures of the United States were entrenched. Obviously, in 1833, Britain took the Falkland Islands from Argentina and the United States did not do anything about it.
In spite of this, the Monroe Doctrine made it clear that there were to spheres of operations in international affairs, an American sphere and a European sphere on the other side. This is because the Monroe Doctrine limited the impasse and the exertion of influence on the Americas by the powers of Europe.

Long-Term Effect of the Monroe Doctrine

The impact of the Monroe Doctrine in an American context can be examined by looking at the way and trends of affairs several decades after the doctrine was issued. Some authorities identified after the Panama Conference which was meant to be a Pan American conference in 1826, that the Monroe Doctrine was nothing but a national policy with no intent of being enforced internationally.
In 1842, when the British merchants paid money to the Mexican government and sought to create the Republic of Texas, the then US President, James Polk convinced Congress that America had to act to claim Texas on the basis of the Monroe-Doctrine. In 1862, when the French invaded Mexico, the United States used the Monroe Doctrine as a basis to demand French withdrawal since it was in violation of the doctrine and principle. However, the United States could not intervene because they were at the height of the Civil War. However, the Doctrine and the spirit of it was applied to ensure that the French left Mexico ultimately. This was done by the US sending troops to its Mexican border to exert pressure on the French government. Eventually, Mexican nationalists drove out the French from the New World.
US President Ulysses Grant and his secretary of state sought to expand the sphere of American influence in Central and South America in the 1870s. Their view was to ensure that they were going to eliminate colonial Spanish influence from the continent. Therefore, they sought to use this principle as a justification.
Then in the British-Venezuela border crisis of 1895, Venezuela appealed to the United States for support on the grounds of the Monroe Doctrine. The American intervened diplomatically and asserted that America was the custodian of all the territories in the Americas and all the nations were in fact legitimate and had to be allowed to exercise their power. Britain refused to respond and that silence is seen as British acceptance of the Monroe Doctrine.
In the 1900s, the doctrine was used to help nations in Latin America who genuinely needed assistance. However, in the event where Venezuela owed a lot and action was being taken by its creditors to recover their debt, US President Roosevelt refused to extend the Monroe doctrine to cover “wrongdoing”. He asserted that America had a moral obligation against colonialism itself, but not the actions of an independent nation in the Western hemisphere.
The Monroe Doctrine grew into the mid-20th Century when America became a leading power after the Second World War. After the Communist revolution of Cuba in 1959, the United States sought to use the Monroe Doctrine as basis to form alliances and bonds in Latin America to prevent the creation of Communist states in the Western hemisphere.


The Monroe Doctrine was originally formulated to keep European powers who lost their colonies in the Americas from retaking them. It was also formed to prevent other European powers with stronger military powers from invading newly formed republics in the New World. Initially, the Americans did not have the military power to enforce it. Thus, the British, who were emerging from mercantilism and were pursuing a free market trade system did most of the military enforcements, whilst the Americans did nothing. However, America’s role in using the Monroe doctrine became serious and was enforced significantly after the US Civil War. It was used to protect numerous countries and the theory extended into the 20th Century and into the Cold War where the Monroe Doctrine was invoked to promote friendship in protecting the West from the spread of Communism.

Works Cited

Frentzos, Christos and Antonio Thompson. The Routledge Handbook of American Military and Diplomatic History. London: Routledge, 2014.
Lewis, James. John Quincy Adams: Policymaker for the Union. Larnham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield, 2013.
Lynch, Timothy. American Military and Diplomatic History. New York: Oxford University Press, 2013.
Margulies, Phillip. America's Role in the World. New York : InfoBasePublishing, 2014.
Sexton, Jay. The Monroe Doctrine: Empire and Nation in Nineteenth-Century America. London: Macmillan, 2011.
Thorpe, Francis Newton. Constitutional History of the United States. Clark, NJ: The Lawexchange Ltd, 2008.
Yale Law School. Avalon Project: Documents in Law, History and Diplomacy. 4 December 2008. 20 February 2015 <>.

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