Monroe Doctrine (Modified)

Some of the language and phrasing in this document has been modified from the original.

Head Note: In 1823, President James Monroe made a bold foreign policy speech to Congress that signified a departure from past U.S. isolationism. The principles he laid out in the speech would become known as the “Monroe Doctrine” and would influence policy decisions thereafter.

The American continents are free and independent. They are not to be considered as subjects for future colonization by Europe.

The citizens of the United States respect and value the liberty and happiness of their fellow men in Europe. In the wars of the European powers, in matters relating to themselves, we have never taken any part. It is only when our rights are invaded that we resent injuries, or prepare for our defense. With the events in our half of the world, we are more immediately concerned.

We owe it, therefore, to the good relations existing between the United States and the European powers, to declare, that we should consider any attempt on their part to extend their system to any portion of this half of the world 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 and maintained their independence, and whose independence we have acknowledged, we would view any oppressive interference by any European power as a clear sign of an unfriendly attitude towards the United States. . . .

[Some of the language and phrasing in this document has been modified from the original.]

Source: Excerpt from President James Monroe’s Seventh Annual Message to Congress, December 2, 1823.