On December 23, 1823, in his annual message to Congress, President JAMES MONROE made a statement on foreign policy that came to be known as the Monroe Doctrine. At that time the United States feared that Russia intended to establish colonies in Alaska and, more importantly, that the continental European states would intervene in Central and South America to help Spain recover its former colonies, which had won their independence in a series of wars in the early nineteenth century.
President Monroe announced that North and South America were closed to colonization, that the United States would not become involved in European wars or colonial wars in the Americas, and, most importantly, that any intervention by a European power in the independent states of the Western Hemisphere would be viewed by the United States as an unfriendly act against the United States.
Later presidents reiterated the Monroe Doctrine. In the early twentieth century, it was extended to justify U.S. intervention in the states of Latin America.
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