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Roosevelt Corollary

Roosevelt Corollary

Roosevelt Corollary, a statement by President Theodore Roosevelt in December 1904 that "chronic wrongdoing" by a Latin American government might require the United States to carry out the role of "international policeman" of the Western Hemisphere in order to uphold the Monroe Doctrine (1823).

Roosevelt sympathized with European leaders involved in disputes with nationalistic governments in Latin America—governments that refused to pay their debts to foreign creditors or ill-treated foreign nationals. But two crises in the Caribbean prompted him to change his mind. The first occurred when Great Britain, Germany, and Italy blockaded Venezuela in 1902–1903 over a debt imbroglio; the second, when European creditors made it clear to Roosevelt that they were expecting their governments to confront the problem of collecting the large debt of the Dominican Republic. Roosevelt understood the danger to U.S. security in the hemisphere if those European governments followed a nineteenth-century practice of using forceful means to deal with recalcitrant Latin American governments. The Roosevelt Corollary offered a compromise whereby the United States would be able to maintain its domination of Latin America yet obtain Europe's acquiescence because the United States, not Europe, would "police" the hemisphere.

Using the Roosevelt Corollary as a pretext for defending the Monroe Doctrine, the United States greatly expanded its policing role in Latin America, especially in the Caribbean. It established a financial protectorate in the Dominican Republic in 1905, occupied Cuba in 1906, intervened continuously in Central America from 1906 until 1933, and created de facto military governments in Haiti and the Dominican Republic in 1915 and 1916, respectively.

See alsoBig Stick Policy; Clark Memorandum; United States-Latin American Relations.


Dexter Perkins, A History of the Monroe Doctrine (1963).

Dana G. Munro, Intervention and Dollar Diplomacy in the Caribbean, 1900–1921 (1964).

Lester D. Langley, The United States and the Caribbean in the Twentieth Century, 4th ed. (1989).

Richard Collin, Theodore Roosevelt's Caribbean: The Panama Canal, the Monroe Doctrine, and the Latin American Context (1990).

Additional Bibliography

Dent, David W. The Legacy of the Monroe Doctrine: A Reference Guide to U.S. Involvement in Latin America and the Caribbean. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1999.

Hilton, Sylvia-Lyn. "La "nueva" doctrina Monroe de 1895 y sus implicaciones para el Caribe español: Algunas interpretaciones coetáneas españolas." Anuario de Estudios Americanos. 55:1 (January-June 1998): 125-151.

Rosenberg, Emily S. Financial Missionaries to the World: The Politics and Culture of Dollar Diplomacy, 1900–1930. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1999.

                                        Lester D. Langley

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