Thomas Jefferson played a role in the development of the so-called Monroe Doctrine.
Credit: Courtesy of American Memory at the Library of Congress.
Briefly share the patriotic broadside The First Great Western Empire (on the EDSITEment reviewed website Harpweek) published June 1812, the month in which the War of 1812 was declared. If desired, use the Written Document Analysis Worksheet on the EDSITEment resource Digital Classroom to aid your analysis. Patriotic fervor at a time of war is to be expected, but in what sense, if any, was the United States of 1812 an "empire?" Have students look up the word in the dictionary. We cannot know with certainty now how widespread the feeling was then that the United States was an empire, or an empire-in-the-making. But the kind of expansionist agenda that goes hand-in-hand with empire building is sometimes cited as a motivation behind the Monroe Doctrine. Remember that James Monroe served as secretary of state and secretary of war during the War of 1812. As students read the Monroe Doctrine, they can decide for themselves what was truly its purpose.
If desired, provide background information on the Monroe Doctrine from the class text or a source such as Monroe Doctrine, from the website of the U.S. Department of State, a link from the EDSITEment resource Internet Public Library. To understand the Monroe Doctrine, it is essential that the class have a basic background in early American diplomacy. If desired, see Lesson One, above, and particularly the handout "Documentary Timeline: American Diplomacy Before the Monroe Doctrine," on pages 1-7 of the Master PDF, for a capsule review of early American diplomacy and related events that provides sufficient background for the discussion to follow.
Read with the class the text of The Monroe Doctrine from the handout "The Monroe Doctrine: A Close Reading" on pages 14-15 of the Master PDF. The handout replaces the original paragraphing and, instead, organizes the text by subject. It contains all of the language of the original as presented by the EDSITEment-reviewed website The Avalon Project. Discuss the text with the class using the following questions as guidelines:
Students should be able to respond effectively to the bulleted questions above. Ask students to state in writing, supported by evidence, their answer to this question: What was the primary purpose behind the Monroe Doctrine?
1 class periods