Jefferson: The Monroe Doctrine and America's Foreign Policy

Liberty Letters Quote of the Day, Thomas Jefferson

In 1823, Thomas Jefferson, after being consulted by President James Monroe, who had drawn the great U.S. foreign policy statement known as the Monroe Doctrine, enthusiastically approved of the President’s doctrine, and on taking the long view down the corridor of time, said he, summed up what his foreign policy view as follows:

The question presented by the letters you have sent me, is the most momentous which has ever been offered to my contemplation since that of Independence. That made us a nation, this sets our compass and points the course which we are to steer through the ocean of time opening on us. And never could we embark on it under circumstances more auspicious.

Our first and fundamental maxim should be, never to entangle ourselves in the broils of Europe. Our second, never to suffer Europe to intermeddle with cis-Atlantic affairs. America, North and South, has a set of interests distinct from those of Europe, and peculiarly her own. She should therefore have a system of her own, separate and apart from that of Europe. While the last is laboring to become the domicil of despotism, our endeavor should surely be, to make our hemisphere that of freedom.


Source: Thomas Jefferson: Letter to the President of the United States, James Monroe, dated October 24, 1823. Sent from Monticello.


Liberty Letters are researched, compiled, and edited (with occasional commentary) by Steve Farrell.

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