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THE MONROE DOCTRINE:

The Monroe Doctrine was expressed during President Monroe's
seventh annual message to Congress, December 2, 1823:

. . . At the proposal of the Russian Imperial Government, made
through the minister of the Emperor residing here, a full power
and instructions have been transmitted to the minister of the
United States at St. Petersburg to arrange by amicable negotiation
the respective rights and interests of the two nations on the
northwest coast of this continent. A similar proposal has been
made by His Imperial Majesty to the Government of Great Britain,
which has likewise been acceded to. The Government of the United
States has been desirous by this friendly proceeding of manifesting
the great value which they have invariably attached to the
friendship of the Emperor and their solicitude to cultivate the
best understanding with his Government. In the discussions to
which this interest has given rise and in the arrangements by
which they may terminate the occasion has been judged proper for
asserting, as a principle in which the rights and interests of
the United States are involved, that the American continents, by
the free and independent condition which they have assumed and
maintain, are henceforth not to be considered as subjects for
future colonization by any European powers. . .

It was stated at the commencement of the last session that a great
effort was then making in Spain and Portugal to improve the
condition of the people of those countries, and that it appeared
to be conducted with extraordinary moderation. It need scarcely
be remarked that the results have been so far very different from
what was then anticipated. Of events in that quarter of the globe,
with which we have so much intercourse and from which we derive
our origin, we have always been anxious and interested spectators.
The citizens of the United States cherish sentiments the most
friendly in favor of the liberty and happiness of their fellow-men
on that side of the Atlantic. In the wars of the European powers
in matters relating to themselves we have never taken any part,
nor does it comport with our policy to do so. It is only when our
rights are invaded or seriously menaced that we resent injuries
or make preparation for our defense. With the movements in this
hemisphere we are of necessity more immediately connected, and by
causes which must be obvious to all enlightened and impartial
observers. The political system of the allied powers is essentially
different in this respect from that of America. This difference
proceeds from that which exists in their respective Governments;
and to the defense of our own, which has been achieved by the loss
of so much blood and treasure, and matured by the wisdom of their
most enlightened citizens, and under which we have enjoyed unexampled
felicity, this whole nation is devoted. We owe it, therefore,
to candor and to the amicable relations existing between the United
States and those powers to declare that we should consider any
attempt on their part to extend their system to any portion of
this hemisphere as dangerous to our peace and safety. With the
existing colonies or dependencies of any European power we have
not interfered and shall not interfere. But with the Governments
who have declared their independence and maintain it, and whose
independence we have, on great consideration and on just principles,
acknowledged, we could not view any interposition for the purpose of
oppressing them, or controlling in any other manner their destiny,
by any European power in any other light than as the manifestation
of an unfriendly disposition toward the United States. In the war
between those new Governments and Spain we declared our neutrality
at the time of their recognition, and to this we have adhered,
and shall continue to adhere, provided no change shall occur
which, in the judgement of the competent authorities of this
Government, shall make a corresponding change on the part of
the United States indispensable to their security.

The late events in Spain and Portugal shew that Europe is still
unsettled. Of this important fact no stronger proof can be adduced
than that the allied powers should have thought it proper, on
any principle satisfactory to themselves, to have interposed by
force in the internal concerns of Spain. To what extent such
interposition may be carried, on the same principle, is a question
in which all independent powers whose governments differ from
theirs are interested, even those most remote, and surely none
of them more so than the United States. Our policy in regard to
Europe, which was adopted at an early stage of the wars which have
so long agitated that quarter of the globe, nevertheless remains
the same, which is, not to interfere in the internal concerns of
any of its powers; to consider the government de facto as the
legitimate government for us; to cultivate friendly relations
with it, and to preserve those relations by a frank, firm, and
manly policy, meeting in all instances the just claims of every
power, submitting to injuries from none. But in regard to those
continents circumstances are eminently and conspicuously different.
It is impossible that the allied powers should extend their
political system to any portion of either continent without
endangering our peace and happiness; nor can anyone believe that
our southern brethren, if left to themselves, would adopt it of
their own accord. It is equally impossible, therefore, that we
should behold such interposition in any form with indifference.
If we look to the comparative strength and resources of Spain and
those new Governments, and their distance from each other, it must
be obvious that she can never subdue them. It is still the true
policy of the United States to leave the parties to themselves,
in hope that other powers will pursue the same course. . . .

 

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