DBQ: The Monroe Doctrine
Did the Monroe Doctrine express a policy of isolationism?
The Monroe Doctrine guided American foreign policy, to greater and lesser extents, throughout the nineteenth and into the twentieth centuries
Use your knowledge of the era and the documents to answer the questions and then the essential question below.
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 so to do. . . . With the movements in this hemisphere we are of necessity more immediately connected.
. . . 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.
—James Monroe, address to Congress,
December 2, 1823
The question presented by the letters you have sent me, is the most momentous which has ever been offered to my contemplation since that of Independence. . . . Our first and fundamental maxim should be, never to entangle ourselves in the broils of Europe. Our second, never to suffer Europe to intermeddle with [this side of the] Atlantic affairs. America,
North and South, has a set of interests distinct from those of Europe, and peculiarly her own. She should therefore have a system of her own, separate and apart from that of Europe.
—Thomas Jefferson, letter to James Monroe,
October 24, 1823
Monroe essentially declared that the United States would not tolerate intervention in the Americas by European nations. Monroe also promised that the United States wouldn’t interfere with already established colonies or with governments in Europe.
In one sense, this declaration was an act of isolationism, with America withdrawing from the political tempests of Europe. . . .
On the positive side, the Doctrine marked what might be called the last step in America’s march to independence, which had begun in the Revolution and moved through post-independence foreign treaties, the Louisiana Purchase, the War of 1812, and the
—Kenneth Davis, historian
1. In Document A, Monroe describes European actions in the
2. Which of the following statements most accurately summarizes Thomas Jefferson’s ideas as expressed in Document B?
3. Which documents assert that the Monroe Doctrine had become a success?
4. Writing Task Did the Monroe Doctrine express a policy of isolationism? Use your knowledge of American history and specific evidence from the primary sources above to explain your answer.