Roosevelt Corollary

In his annual message to Congress on December 6, 1904, President Theodore Roosevelt made a significant addition to the Monroe Doctrine affecting America’s foreign policy. President James Monroe, in 1823, had warned European powers not to interfere in the affairs of the western hemisphere. Eight decades later, European powers were taking military action in Venezuela. The U.S. was striving to create an isthmian canal in Central America.

To prevent future foreign military operations in the Americas, Roosevelt pledged that the United States would assert itself to prevent “chronic wrongdoing” and “a general loosening of the ties of civilized society.” If necessary, the United States would intervene to restore order, stability, and prosperity in the western hemisphere. This stance was called the Roosevelt Corollary to the Monroe Doctrine.

Anti-Imperialists criticized the president for moving from a defensive policy opposing foreign intervention to a positive declaration authorizing military action. Latin American leaders, especially Argentine Minister of Foreign Affairs Luis María Drago, also criticized the Roosevelt Corollary. Meanwhile, the president’s supporters believed the policy would ensure prosperous and democratic governments in the western hemisphere. 

The Roosevelt Corollary was officially abandoned in 1934. President Franklin D. Roosevelt, TR’s distant cousin, renounced the U.S. right of intervention as part of his “Good Neighbor Policy.” However, TR’s plan for security in the western hemisphere, especially his desire for stable, prosperous, and democratic governments in Latin America and the Caribbean, influenced American foreign policy for decades.