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Clarifications: Each clarification provides an explanation of an indicator/objective to help teachers better understand the skills and/or concepts.

Standard 5.0 History

Topic C. Conflict between Ideas and Institutions

Indicator 2. Analyze the emerging foreign policy of the United States

Objective c. Evaluate the origins and provisions of the Monroe Doctrine and explain how it influenced foreign affairs


As the United States became more established and stronger, it looked to solidify its position in the Western Hemisphere. Between 1808 and 1822, Spain’s South American colonies achieved their independence, and the United States quickly recognized them as sovereign nations. Soon, however, a domestic revolt in Spain resulted in that nation’s occupation by France. Backed by Europe’s other monarchies, France restored the Spanish monarchy, and the United States and Great Britain feared that the French would also attempt to restore the South American provinces to Spanish rule. Great Britain attempted to persuade the United States to issue a joint proclamation prohibiting European involvement in the Western Hemisphere. John Quincy Adams, Monroe’s masterful Secretary of State, argued against such a joint proclamation. He preferred to heed Washington’s advice to act unilaterally, was reluctant to appear as if the U.S. was tagging-along with Great Britain, and wanted to avoid the proposed proclamation’s promise that the United States not attempt to acquire any other Spanish territories in the Western Hemisphere. During this time Adams was concerned about Russian interest in the North American west coast. In a December 2, 1823 message to Congress, Monroe issued a statement that would come to be known as the Monroe Doctrine. It had four principle components: (1) that the Western Hemisphere was closed to future European colonization; (2) that European nations must not interfere with the affairs of independent Western Hemisphere nations; (3) that the United States would not interfere in the internal affairs of European nations; and (4) that the United States would not interfere with existing European colonies in the Western Hemisphere. Because no occasion arose to test it, the Monroe Doctrine was largely ignored at the time; however, it would eventually become a centerpiece of American foreign policy.

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