Saturday, December 5, 2015

Episode 293 (12-7-15): The Monroe Doctrine Turns 192 in 2015

CLICK HERE to listen to episode audio (4:08)

Transcript of audio, notes on the audio, images, and additional information follow below.

All Web addresses mentioned were functional as of 12-4-15.


From the Cumberland Gap to the Atlantic Ocean, this is Virginia Water Radio for the week of December 7, 2015.

MUSIC – ~4 sec

This week, the music of “A New World Overture,” by Timothy Seaman of Williamsburg, sets the stage for remembering a Virginia-born president’s declaration in 1823 about European involvement across the seas in the affairs of the New World, or the Western Hemisphere.  Have a listen for about 25 more seconds, and see if you can guess that Virginia president and that declaration.

MUSIC – ~26 sec

If you guessed, James Monroe and the Monroe Doctrine, you’re right!  Born in Westmoreland County, Virginia, in 1758, James Monroe served in the Revolutionary War and then in several political and diplomatic posts before becoming the fifth U.S. president in 1817.  His eight-year presidency is most noted for what eventually came to be called the Monroe Doctrine, first declared in Monroe’s annual message to Congress on December 2, 1823.  In that address, Monroe stated that “the American continents are henceforth not to be considered as subjects for future colonization by any European powers....”  He also stated that the United States would view as “dangerous to our peace and safety” any attempt by European nations to extend their political systems to the Western Hemisphere, particularly in former Spanish colonies that had recently declared their independence.  Monroe’s declaration aimed to do several things: secure U.S. territory from European powers; keep the United States neutral in European conflicts; keep those conflicts from playing out across the Atlantic in revolutionary movements in Spain’s Latin American colonies; and assert diplomatic independence from Britain, whose navy was the most powerful force on the seas.

Later extensions of the Doctrine, such as the Theodore Roosevelt Corollary in 1904, have been used to justify various U.S. military interventions, particularly in Latin America, and that legacy continues to be debated and controversial.  But in 1823, Monroe’s message was a widely popular statement of principle by a young, ocean-surrounded, New World republic to the powerful monarchs and navies of the Old World.

Thanks for Timothy Seaman for permission to use this week’s music, and we close with a few more seconds of “A New World Overture.”

MUSIC - ~12 sec

For more Virginia water sounds, music, and information, visit us online at, or call us at (540) 231-5463.  Virginia Water Radio is produced by the Virginia Water Resources Research Center, part of Virginia Tech’s College of Natural Resources and Environment.  Thanks to Stewart Scales for his banjo version of Cripple Creek to open and close the show.  In Blacksburg, I’m Alan Raflo, thanking you for listening, and wishing you health, wisdom, and good water.


“A New World Overture (Virginia the Beautiful),” on the 2006 album, “Jamestown: On the Edge of a Vast Continent,” is copyright by Timothy Seaman and Pine Wind Music, used with permission.  More information about Timothy Seaman is available online at


Photocopy of The Annals of Congress, 18th Congress, First Session, pages 13-14, showing President James Monroe’s statement to Congress on December 2, 1823, about colonization of the American continents by European powers, part of what has become known as the Monroe Doctrine.  Image acquired from the Library of Congress Web site, “A Century of Lawmaking for a New Nation: U.S. Congressional Documents and Debates, 1774 – 1875,” online at
A modern-day printing of the Monroe Doctrine, photographed in a Blacksburg, Va., restaurant in November 2015.

Used in Audio

Harry Ammon, James Monroe: The Quest for National Identity, University of Virginia Press, Charlottesville, 1990. 

Noble E. Cunningham, Jr., The Presidency of James Monroe, University Press of Kansas, Lawrence, 1996.

Independence Hall Association (Philadelphia, Penn.), Web site, “Monroe Doctrine,” online at  This site has the text of the part of President Monroe’s December 2, 1823, address to Congress that has come to be known as the Monroe Doctrine.

James Monroe Museum and Library at the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, Va.: “America Enters the World Stage: The Monroe Doctrine,” virtual exhibit online at this link; main Web site:

Library of Congress, “Primary Documents in American History/Monroe Doctrine,” online at

U.S. Department of State/Office of the Historian, “Monroe Doctrine 1823,” online at

U.S. Department of State/Office of the Historian, “Roosevelt Corollary to the Monroe Doctrine 1904,” online at

For More Information on James Monroe and the Monroe Doctrine

James Monroe Museum and Library at the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, Va., “James Monroe: Life and Legacy,” eight lectures delivered in October 2013, online at

Fort Monroe Authority, “The Fort Monroe Story,” online at  Fort Monroe in Hampton, Va., constructed between 1819 and 1836, was named for James Monroe.  It’s now a National Historic Monument, managed by the Fort Monroe Authority, a political subdivision of the Commonwealth of Virginia.


All Water Radio episodes are listed by category at the Index link above (  Please see the “History” category for episodes related to other water-related aspects of historical people or events.


The episode may help with the following Virginia 2008 Social Studies SOLs:

United States History to 1865 Course
USI.2 – water features important to the early history of the United States.
USI.7 – challenges faced by the newly independent United States.

United States History: 1865 to Present Course
USII.5 – changing role of the United States from the later 19th Century through World War I.
USII.8 – economic, social, and political transformation of the United States after World War II, including role of U.S. military.

Civics and Economics Course
CE.9 – public policy at local, state, and national levels.

World History and Geography: 1500 A.D. to Present Course
WHII.7. – Latin American revolutions in the 19th Century, including the impact of the Monroe Doctrine.

Virginia and United States History Course
VU.6 – Major events of 1788 to 1860.

Government Course
GOVT.9 – public policy at local, state, and national levels.
GOVT. 12 – role of the United States in a changing world, including responsibilities of the national government for foreign policy and national security.

Virginia’s SOLs are available from the Virginia Department of Education, online at