On December 4, 1904, President Roosevelt issued his annual message to Congress. Included in the message was what would come to be known as the Roosevelt Corollary to the Monroe Doctrine. Roosevelt had first introduced the corollary in May through a letter he wrote to Elihu Root and Root shared it at a gathering of the Cuba Society of New York on the second anniversary of the formation of the republic of Cuba. He had not wanted to make it official in an election year. Once he was re-elected in November of 1904, he felt comfortable asserting it as national policy.
An issue of Puck during the Venezuelan Crisis, January 22, 1902. From the Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs division
The expansion of the Monroe Doctrine was prompted by the Venezuelan Crisis in 1902, when Roosevelt intervened to end a blockade of Venezuela by Germany and other European powers. Roosevelt’s generation wasn’t as concerned with most South American countries as they were with Latin America and the Caribbean where American interests were growing. A rebellion in Santo Domingo (modern-day Dominican Republic) in early 1904 necessitated direct intervention to keep peace in an area that had become vital to American interests with the construction of the Panama Canal. Roosevelt was also concerned about continued European interest in the area. A European nation which entered a country to collect debts could find other reasons to stay, putting them in direct violation of the Monroe Doctrine.
Roosevelt stated clearly in his message to Congress what United States policy would be: “Chronic wrongdoing, or an impotence which results in a general loosening of the ties of civilized society, may in America, as elsewhere, ultimately require intervention by some civilized nation, and in the western hemisphere the adherence of the United states to the Monroe Doctrine may force the United States, however reluctantly, in flagrant cases of such wrongdoing or impotence, to the exercise of an international police power.”
It was, in essence, a role the United States had been fulfilling for years but the official statement gave the policy a prominent role in US foreign policy which would in turn allow American involvement in Latin American political affairs for decades to come.
T.R.: The Last Romantic, H.W. Brands
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Theodore Roosevelt: A Strenuous Life, Kathleen Dalton