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James Monroe the founder of the Monroe Doctrine.

Latin American States, 1823

 Political map of Latin America in 1823, the year the Monroe Doctrine was declared.


On December 2, 1823, President James Monroe addressed Congress, making a bold declaration, that the nations of the western hemisphere were no longer available as subjects for European control. This declaration, known as the Monroe Doctrine, has become a cornerstone of U.S. foreign policy.



The main focus of our exhibit is to show how the U.S. used the Monroe Doctrine to justify its involvements in the Western Hemisphere and to also look at how other nations perceived, interpreted, and applied it in their relations with America and abroad. With this, we will show specific instances in which the document was used or brought up over the course of the nineteenth and early twentieth century, and how these instances affected America’s global relations at the time. We will also display different views and interpretations of the Monroe Doctrine by both American and foreign nations as well as prominent leaders.

Although the Monroe Doctrine is not as present in today’s discussions of foreign affairs as it was in previous centuries, when it was introduced in 1823, it displayed many of the core beliefs that the United States had on foreign policy. President Monroe believed that America should be strong and protect its interests from European countries while upholding the American principles of freedom and equality. Presidents that came after Monroe echoed this message and used the doctrine as a guide for foreign policy and relations over the upcoming century. While the Monroe Doctrine was used by the U.S. as a foreign policy document, other nations were well aware of it and took it into account when interacting with the United States. The doctrine was specifically invoked by United States policymakers to justify intervention in Latin America in the late nineteenth century. Likewise, the doctrine was also invoked by some residents of the Philippines because they felt that they were being unfairly encroached upon by the U.S. These are just a few of many different examples of how the Monroe Doctrine was used by the United States and how other countries viewed and interpreted the document as well.   

The Monroe Doctrine shows how American leaders envisioned the role of the United States on a global scale with foreign countries and it is important not only to Americans, but people that are living in the after effects of the doctrine. This document helped shape American foreign policy and relations with other nations throughout the nineteenth century and can also help us to understand the different decisions that America made regarding Latin American countries in the Western Hemisphere and how countries abroad viewed and interacted with the United States at the time.