The Monroe Doctrine

US #325 commemorates Monroe’s role in acquiring the Louisiana Territory.

On December 2, 1823, President James Monroe introduced the foreign policy doctrine that bears his name.

The last President of the “Virginia Dynasty” (four out of the first five Presidents were from Virginia), James Monroe was a levelheaded and respected force throughout his political career. He participated in the ratification of the US Constitution, negotiated the Louisiana Purchase, and implemented the Missouri Compromise. He diligently worked to maintain peace and unity, and to keep America free from foreign oppression.

US #591 – Monroe’s time in office is sometimes referred to as the “Era of Good Feeling.”

In 1817, Monroe selected John Quincy Adams as his Secretary of State. In this role, Adams helped settle a boundary dispute with England and added Florida to the US. Following the First Seminole War, in which Andrew Jackson pushed Seminole Indians south and removed one governor and chose another, most of Washington believed Jackson had exceeded his authority. But Adams argued that since Spain was unable to control its territories, the US needed to defend itself. Adams met with Spanish foreign minister Luis de Onís to establish the Adams-Onís Treaty, which made Florida a territory of the US and settled border disputes dating back to the Louisiana Purchase.

US #1038 was issued on December 2, 1954, the anniversary of the Monroe Doctrine.

In response to this, neighboring European countries issued threats of an alliance to help Spain retake control of its former territories in the Americas. Monroe’s friends and colleagues Thomas Jefferson and James Madison urged him to accept the British offer of an alliance against France and Spain. Instead, Monroe chose to follow the advice of John Quincy Adams, who believed America should not be influenced by European intrusions. Adams emphasized that American policy was only to serve as moral support for independence movements, but not armed intervention. Though it bears Monroe’s name, Adams wrote the Monroe Doctrine.

US #1105 was issued on Monroe’s 200th birthday – April 28, 1958.

On December 2, 1823, President Monroe addressed Congress with what would later be called the Monroe Doctrine. President Monroe declared that “…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.”

US #811 – For his work on the Monroe Doctrine and other foreign policies, Adams is considered one of America’s best secretaries of state.

With this speech, Monroe declared to the major world powers that America would no longer be accessible to European colonization. He also warned against any European nations attempting to impress political influence in America. Monroe also stressed that America would stay out of European affairs, and expected the equivalent from them.

Several Presidents have invoked the doctrine over the years, making it the cornerstone of America’s foreign policy. Click here to see how the doctrine has been used over time.

Click here to see what else happened on This Day in History.

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  1. This is a really nice short article on the Monroe Doctrine and the key role played by John Quincy Adams. The achievements of Adams as a diplomat, Secretary of State, President, and after his presidency as a long term member of Congress are largely underappreciated.

  2. Already as a middle school student I learned about the US Monroe doctrine even before I knew about any other US president. Congratulations to Mystic for its succinct story on the Monroe doctrine. I did not know that John Quincy Adams wrote it. As Monroe’s secretary of State, he signed in Ghent, the city I live in, a peace treaty with England on his returning from a trip to Russia. That happened before the creation of Belgium, I believe in 1818. I completely agree with Mr. C. Gaunt that the historic achievements of the Adams’, father as well has son, have been much underappreciated at least by the US postal department. Contrary to stamps of Washington and Jefferson, the ones with the picture of John Adams are hardly existing.

    1. J. Q. Adams was one of our representatives in 1814 in Ghent when the Treaty of Ghent was negotiated and then signed on Christmas Eve that year to end the War of 1812. Henry Clay was also there. James Madison was President at that time with Monroe as Secretary of State back in the US. Monroe became President in 1817 as Madison’s successor, having won the election of 1816. BTW, the treaty was signed two weeks before the last battle of the war, the Battle of New Orleans, was fought making the latter anti-climatic according to some and also making Andrew Jackson a national hero.

  3. Great article. And to readers, watch the link regarding the use of the Monroe Doctrine. Expands on the article.

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