Faculty Seminar Advisor

Dr. David Doellinger

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Department

History

Document Type

Paper

Publication Date

Spring 2014

Abstract

Imperialism has been an oft used word to describe the United States’ role in the world. Concerning American foreign policy throughout its history, two overall camps have formed; one sides with identifying imperialistic tendencies on the part of America and the other argues this is overblown, even nonsense. One flash point is the Monroe Doctrine and its implications, with the former camp using it as a case study for early American imperialism and the other arguing it was created to defend American interests and ideals, while attempting to prevent European encroachment in the Western Hemisphere. When looking at the Doctrine after its original declaration, an argument can be made of its use in America’s expansion of influence, particularly during the early twentieth century (i.e., the Roosevelt Corollary). In regards to the actual Doctrine however, this is a fairly myopic view, totally discounting the time in which the Monroe Doctrine was written and declared to the world, which was very defensive and idealistic in nature. This reasoning can be supported with several points. The Founders, including President Monroe, had broken away from an imperial power and were against imperialism. Europe was in the midst of great upheaval, still recovering from the Napoleonic Wars and threatening liberal institutions. Latin America was aflame in revolution, shaking off the yolk of Spain, potentially finding Europe back at their doorstep. There was plenty of reason for the Monroe cabinet to feel defensive, rather than imperial, about American ideals and interests leading up to 1823.

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