James Monroe's Presidency Questions and Answers

Start Your Free Trial

How did the Monroe Doctrine pave the way for imperalist US foreign policies?

Expert Answers info

Greg Jackson, M.A. eNotes educator | Certified Educator

bookM.A. from University of Massachusetts-Boston

calendarEducator since 2018

write1,815 answers

starTop subjects are History, Literature, and Law and Politics

The Monroe Doctrine of 1823 paved the way for imperialist US foreign policies because it essentially said that the country would oppose any new European colonies in the Americas. The sub-text here is that, if Europeans were not exerting imperialistic influence in the western hemisphere, then the United States would.

At the time when the Monroe Doctrine was issued, many Spanish and Portuguese colonies in the Americas were gaining independence. It seemed as though European influence in the region was waning and the United States, as the most powerful and influential nation in the hemisphere was poised to pick up where the European powers left off.

The tenets of the Monroe Doctrine would define US foreign policy for well over a century. While on the surface it set about to ensure that European powers did not further meddle in the Americas, it also allowed for the United States to exert its influence. This would have been difficult to do while other powerful imperialistic nations were also operating in the region. The European powers, for the most part, abided by the Monroe Doctrine. In fact, the only time that the Monroe Doctrine was blatantly ignored was during the 1860s when the United States was preoccupied with the Civil War. That is when Spain, England, and particularly France sent their militaries into Mexico with the intent of collecting on debts at sword point.

The Monroe Doctrine has been invoked by many US presidents, from Ulysses S. Grant to Ronald Reagan. Even though the age of imperialism is over, it still remains a part of the country's main tenets of foreign policy.

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

pohnpei397 eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2009

write35,413 answers

starTop subjects are History, Literature, and Social Sciences

The Monroe Doctrine paved the way for imperialistic policies because it, in essence, claimed that the whole of the Americas fell within the sphere of influence of the United States.  This idea led fairly naturally to the idea that the US should do what it liked, even to the point of interfering in the affairs of those other countries.

In the Monroe Doctrine, the US said that no new colonies could be taken in the Americas by European countries.  It also said that any European interference with the countries of the Americas would be taken as a threat to the US.  By saying things like this, the US was essentially saying that anything that happened in the Americas was the business of the US.  This attitude eventually led to such things as the Roosevelt Corollary to the Monroe Doctrine and to the imperialistic actions that went along with that corollary.

check Approved by eNotes Editorial