The Monroe Doctrine: Empire and Nation in Nineteenth- Century America Book Review

The book gives an essential reevaluation of the evolution, creation and a number of James Monroe’s deployments of 1823 American declaration of foreign policy principles. This book covers extensive ground starting with the independence of American and finalizing with a few reflections on the First World War. However, the author has balanced a thought – infuriating debate of the important problems enclosing the Monroe Doctrine in its different iterations with a forward moving and compelling narrative. Historians have characteristically perceived the Monroe Doctrine history as a series of sudden and marked shift in the utilization and interpretation, though Sexton teases out the factors of consistency masterfully an aspect which makes the history of the doctrine part of evolution instead of an abrupt modification. Sexton points to three processes which are unified central to America in the 19th century, which is illuminated in the Monroe Doctrine. They included The American empire emergence, a new nation forging, and the continuing struggle for independence consolidation from British. The great Sexton’s contribution here lies in the extensive analytical framework in which he examines these processes and the modifying Doctrine via time. There are four themes in this structure stand out as meriting unique consideration. They include the gap between reality and perception in Americans’ foreign threats conceptions, the link between American’s developing empire and anti colonialism, the particular Monroe Doctrine framing by policymakers in the entire 19th century, and the association between international associations and local politics. It is through Sexton exploration of the four themes that he is able to convincingly and successfully show that the Monroe Doctrine as an essential factor of the United States development in the 19th century.

The Monroe Doctrine has a varied and rich history which has been evaluated for a number of varying eras and from a number of different angles by political scientists, and historians among others. There has been a lot of previous work done about the same which would make one wonder whether there is anything new which can be written about the same. However, by making new preferences about perspective and periodization, Sexton gives an impressive and informative Monroe Doctrine account as it developed over American history long sweep. He highlights the foreign and domestic pressures and possibilities in the process which limited assertion of and slowly transformed anticolonial principles into sweeping and confident basis for actions of imperialist. Sexton consideration of the Monroe Doctrine evolution turns as a means to evaluate the interconnected, contentious, and protracted process of imperial expansion, and international consolidation which underlay the emergence of the United States as the finest 20th power global power.

Sexton is not the only historian to demonstrate the significant links between American foreign policies or domestic politics. However, his work is quite unique from the previous work since Sexton filters the Monroe Doctrine history via this leans in a unique way. This can be demonstrated by his treatment of years prior to the issuing of the Doctrine when the public pronouncements regarding the U.S. foreign policy were highly concerned on strengthening and preserving the union as they were with American associations with other nations. He presents farewell address call of George Washington to shun from foreign alliances as stalking from Washington desire to lower the American weakness exposure to a hostile world. Although Sexton could have engaged more into exploring the farewell address long-term effect on American foreign policy conceptions, particularly in cases when it conflicted with Doctrine of Monroe, his analysis is a significant illustration of how debates of foreign policy could be employed to address local concerns in substantive manners.  Instead of limiting his work to the origins of doctrine, and its early effects or the coverage extend to its continuing relevance, Sexton deals with what we may describe as the long 19th century Monroe Doctrine for the 1783 Paris Treaty to the 1904 Roosevelt Corollary. Drawing intensively from the recent scholarship, he starts by grounding the doctrine in a manner that initiates deep thoughts on the newly independent sage in America. According to Sexton, Americans developed bigger, more complex structures, only to experience the subsequent generations or political opponents demolish or even renovate and reconstruct what lay before them.

Despite of a number of credits regarding this book, it also has a number of shortcomings.  There are a number of factual errors in this richly comprehensive narrative. For instance, even the most miserable estimated would not assert that the Trail of Tears caused the death of one-third Cherokees as claimed in page 84. Moreover, there are aspects and incidents which do not get as much attention as the reader could have intended. Although Sexton stressed that the Doctrine of Monroe was not regarded until in 1840s, he could have fully regarded the disavowal and discussion of it for example as mid-1820s pledge. However despite of those few shortcomings, Sexton book is very informative and well researched. It focuses at a political dogma which survived its creator and went on having an impact on the American Diplomacy in the twentieth century.


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