This portion of President Monroe's address contains what became known as the Monroe Doctrine, a cornerstone of American foreign policy. The President was aided by working with Secretary of State John Quincy Adams on foreign affairs, though Monroe himself had extensive diplomatic experience.
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 so to do.
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 maintained 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
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
judgment of the competent authorities of this Government, shall make a
corresponding change on the part of the United States indispensable to