Roosevelt Corollary


In late 1902, Britain, Germany, and Italy implemented a naval blockade of several months against Venezuela because of President Cipriano Castro
Cipriano Castro
José Cipriano Castro Ruiz was a high ranking member of the Venezuelan military, politician and the President of Venezuela from 1899 to 1908...

's refusal to pay foreign debts and damages suffered by European citizens in a recent Venezuelan civil war. The incident was called the Venezuela Crisis of 1902–1903
Venezuela Crisis of 1902–1903
The Venezuela Crisis of 1902 was a naval blockade from December of 1902 to February of 1903 imposed against Venezuela by Britain, Germany and Italy over President Cipriano Castro's refusal to pay foreign debts and damages suffered by European citizens in a recent Venezuelan civil war...

, and led to the development of the Roosevelt Corollary. An international court concluded on 22 February 1904 that the blockading powers involved in the Venezuela Crisis were entitled to preferential treatment in the payment of their claims. The U.S. disagreed with the decision in principle, and feared it would encourage future European intervention to gain such advantage. In order to preclude European intervention, the Roosevelt Corollary asserted a right of the United States to intervene in order to "stabilize" the economic affairs of small states in the Caribbean and Central America if they were unable to pay their international debts.

Content of Corollary

Roosevelt's December 1904 annual message to Congress declared
While the Monroe Doctrine had warned European powers to keep their hands off countries in the Americas, President Roosevelt was now saying that "since the United States would not permit the [European] powers to lay their hands on, he had an obligation to do so himself. In short, he would intervene to keep them from intervening."

Use of the Corollary

The Roosevelt Corollary was supposed to be an addition to the Monroe Doctrine, however, it could be seen as a departure. While the Monroe Doctrine said European countries should stay out of Latin America, the Roosevelt Corollary took this further to say that the United States had the right to exercise military force in Latin American countries in order to keep European countries out. Historian Walter LaFeber
Walter LaFeber
Walter LaFeber was a Marie Underhill Noll Professor of History and a Stephen H. Weiss Presidential Fellow in the Department of History at Cornell University...

U.S. Presidents cited the Roosevelt Corollary as justification for U.S. intervention in Cuba
The Republic of Cuba is an island nation in the Caribbean. The nation of Cuba consists of the main island of Cuba, the Isla de la Juventud, and several archipelagos. Havana is the largest city in Cuba and the country's capital. Santiago de Cuba is the second largest city...

 (1906–1909), Nicaragua
Nicaragua is the largest country in the Central American American isthmus, bordered by Honduras to the north and Costa Rica to the south. The country is situated between 11 and 14 degrees north of the Equator in the Northern Hemisphere, which places it entirely within the tropics. The Pacific Ocean...

 (1909–1910, 1912–1925 and 1926–1933), Haiti
Haiti , officially the Republic of Haiti , is a Caribbean country. It occupies the western, smaller portion of the island of Hispaniola, in the Greater Antillean archipelago, which it shares with the Dominican Republic. Ayiti was the indigenous Taíno or Amerindian name for the island...

 (1915–1934), and the Dominican Republic
Dominican Republic
The Dominican Republic is a nation on the island of La Hispaniola, part of the Greater Antilles archipelago in the Caribbean region. The western third of the island is occupied by the nation of Haiti, making Hispaniola one of two Caribbean islands that are shared by two countries...


Shift to the "Good Neighbor" policy

In 1928, under President Calvin Coolidge
Calvin Coolidge
John Calvin Coolidge, Jr. was the 30th President of the United States . A Republican lawyer from Vermont, Coolidge worked his way up the ladder of Massachusetts state politics, eventually becoming governor of that state...

, the Clark Memorandum
Clark Memorandum
The Clark Memorandum on the Monroe Doctrine or Clark Memorandum, written on December 17, 1928 by Calvin Coolidge’s undersecretary of state J. Reuben Clark, concerned the United States' use of military force to intervene in Latin American nations...

 stated that the U.S. did not have the right to intervene unless there was a threat by European powers, reversing the Roosevelt Corollary. Herbert Hoover
Herbert Hoover
Herbert Clark Hoover was the 31st President of the United States . Hoover was originally a professional mining engineer and author. As the United States Secretary of Commerce in the 1920s under Presidents Warren Harding and Calvin Coolidge, he promoted partnerships between government and business...

 also helped move the U.S. away from the imperialist tendencies of the Roosevelt Corollary by going on good-will tours, withdrawing troops from Nicaragua and Haiti, and generally abstaining from intervening in the internal affairs of neighboring countries. In 1934, Franklin D. Roosevelt further renounced interventionism and established his "Good Neighbor Policy
Good Neighbor policy
The Good Neighbor policy was the foreign policy of the administration of United States President Franklin Roosevelt toward the countries of Latin America. Its main principle was that of non-intervention and non-interference in the domestic affairs of Latin America...

", leaving unchallenged the emergence of dictatorships like that of Batista
Fulgencio Batista
Fulgencio Batista y Zaldívar was the United States-aligned Cuban President, dictator and military leader who served as the leader of Cuba from 1933 to 1944 and from 1952 to 1959, before being overthrown as a result of the Cuban Revolution....

 in Cuba or Trujillo in the Dominican Republic.American foreign relations: a history. Since 1895, Volume 2, 7th Edition, Wadsworth, pg. 162-168, 2010 Three highly oppressive dictators-Dominican Republic dictator Rafael Trujillo, Nicaraguan dictator Anastasio Somoza
Anastasio Somoza
Anastasio Somoza may be:Nicaraguan dictators:* Anastasio Somoza García, * Anastasio Somoza Debayle, Also:* Anastasio Somoza Portocarrero, son of Somoza Debayle...

, and Haitian dictator François Duvalier
François Duvalier
François Duvalier was the President of Haiti from 1957 until his death in 1971. Duvalier first won acclaim in fighting diseases, earning him the nickname "Papa Doc" . He opposed a military coup d'état in 1950, and was elected President in 1957 on a populist and black nationalist platform...

- were each considered to be "frankenstein dictators" due to the mishandlings of the American occupations in the countries


The argument made by Mitchener and Weidenmier (2006) in support of the Roosevelt Corollary to the Monroe Doctrine has been criticized on the grounds that it "represent[s] the one-sided approach that some scholars bring to the study of imperialistic and hegemonic interventions and also highlight how arguments for the general utility of imperialism are increasingly made and accepted." Christopher Coyne
Christopher Coyne
Christopher Coyne is the F.A. Harper Professor of Economics at the Mercatus Center, George Mason University.-Education:After graduating in 1999 with a B.S. from Manhattan College, Coyne received his M.A. and Ph.D...

 and Stephen Davies, in their article "Nineteen Public Bads of Empire, Nation Building, and the Like", argue that a foreign policy modeled on the Roosevelt Corollary leads to negative consequences both in national security terms and in terms of its effect on domestic politics.

Critics, such as Noam Chomsky
Noam Chomsky
Avram Noam Chomsky is an American linguist, philosopher, cognitive scientist, and activist. He is an Institute Professor and Professor in the Department of Linguistics & Philosophy at MIT, where he has worked for over 50 years. Chomsky has been described as the "father of modern linguistics" and...

, have argued that the Roosevelt Corollary was merely a more explicit imperialist threat, building on the Monroe Doctrine, and indicating that the U.S. would intervene not only in defense of South American states in the face of European imperialism, but would also use its muscle to obtain concessions and privileges for American corporations.

Serge Ricard
Serge Ricard
Serge Ricard, a former Fulbright Scholar, is professor of American Civilization at the University of Paris III-Sorbonne Nouvelle. Ricard specializes in both American foreign policy and civilization. He is co-director with Pierre Melandri of OPEA, the Center for the Study of American Foreign Policy...

 of the University of Paris
University of Paris
The University of Paris was a university located in Paris, France and one of the earliest to be established in Europe. It was founded in the mid 12th century, and officially recognized as a university probably between 1160 and 1250...

 goes even further, stating that the Roosevelt Corollary was not merely an addendum to the earlier Monroe Doctrine, through which the U.S. pledged to protect the Americas from European imperialist interventions. Rather, the Roosevelt Corollary was "an entirely new diplomatic tenet which epitomized his 'big stick' approach to foreign policy". In other words, while the Monroe Doctrine sought to bar entry to the European empires, the Roosevelt Corollary announced America's intention to take their place.

A recently published book, The Imperial Cruise: The Secret History of Empire and War, documents that in 1905 Roosevelt imagined that his "international police powers" extended to North Asia. Unable to use American force in North Asia, Roosevelt believed that Japanese expansionism into the area would further U.S. interests. In July 1905 Roosevelt secretly agreed a "Japanese Monroe Doctrine for Asia."" that allowed the takeover of Korea by Japan. With this secret and unconstitutional maneuver, Roosevelt inadvertently ignited the problem (Japanese expansionism in Asia) that Franklin Delano Roosevelt would later confront during World War II in Asia. The New York Times wrote, "The Imperial Cruise is startling enough to reshape conventional wisdom about Roosevelt's presidency."

See also

  • History of the United States (1865-1918)
  • Overseas expansion of the United States
  • The New Imperialism series
    New Imperialism
    New Imperialism refers to the colonial expansion adopted by Europe's powers and, later, Japan and the United States, during the 19th and early 20th centuries; expansion took place from the French conquest of Algeria until World War I: approximately 1830 to 1914...

    • Origins of New Imperialism
      Rise of the New Imperialism
      The "Rise of the New Imperialism" era overlaps with the Pax Britannica period . The American Revolution and the collapse of the Spanish empire in the New World in the early 1810-20s, following the revolutions in the viceroyalties of New Spain, New Granada, Peru and the Río de la Plata ended the...

  • Dollar Diplomacy
    Dollar Diplomacy
    Dollar Diplomacy is a term used to describe the effort of the United States—particularly under President William Howard Taft—to further its aims in Latin America and East Asia through use of its economic power by guaranteeing loans made to foreign countries. The term was originally coined by...

  • Big Stick ideology
  • Drago Doctrine
    Drago Doctrine
    The Drago Doctrine was announced in 1902 by the Argentine Minister of Foreign Affairs Luis María Drago. Extending the Monroe Doctrine, it set forth the policy that no foreign power, including the United States, could use force against an American nation to collect debt...

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