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On December 2, 1823 President James Monroe stood before Congress and declared that the Western World belonged to the America's. Monroe, working closely with Great Britain, stated that any act of aggression by the European powers on a country in the Western Hemisphere would be viewed as an act of aggression against America itself and would elicit a military response by American forces. This declaration has been the center piece of American foreign policy ever since.
Mr. Monroe declared in his address: "We owe it, therefore, to candor and to the amicable relations existing between the United States and those powers to declare that we should consider any attempt on their part to extend their system to any portion of this hemisphere as dangerous to our peace and safety. With the existing colonies or dependencies of any European power we have not interfered and shall not interfere. But with the Governments who have declared their independence and maintained it, and whose independence we have, on great consideration and on just principles, acknowledged, we could not view any interposition for the purpose of oppressing them, or controlling in any other manner their destiny, by any European power in any other light than as the manifestation of an unfriendly disposition toward the United States."
Perhaps no other President has had such a lasting impact on the foreign affairs of our nation as Mr. Monroe did with one declaration. The Western Hemisphere belonged to the America's and he was going to make sure that became a reality. It is interesting to ponder how we take this declaration for granted in present day, but it was a giant leap forward for a young nation trying to assert itself to other world powers. Nearly every president since has referred to the Monroe Doctrine when they are speaking of matters of foreign policy and dealings with other nations, which places this President as one of the most memorable ones of our time.