Roosevelt Corollary

Roosevelt Corollary

The Roosevelt Corollary was a substantial amendment to the Monroe Doctrine by U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt in 1904. Roosevelt's extension of the Monroe Doctrine asserted the right of the United States to intervene to stabilize the economic affairs of small nations in the Caribbean and Central America if they were unable to pay their international debts. The alternative was intervention by European powers, especially Britain and Germany, which loaned money to the countries that did not repay. The catalyst of the new policy was Germany's aggressiveness in the Venezuela affair of 1902-03.(Marks 1979)


Mitchener and Weidenmier (2006) show the economic benefits to the small countries. The average debt price for countries under the US "sphere of influence" rose by 74% in response to the pronouncement and actions to make it credible. That is, their bonds rose 74% because buyers now believed they would be repaid. The increase in financial stability reduced internal conflict because political factions could not count on winning control of the national treasury if they won a civil war. The program spurred export growth and better fiscal management, but debt settlements were driven primarily by gunboat diplomacy.

Roosevelt's December 1904 Annual message to Congress declared:

Shift to the "Good Neighbor" policy

Presidents cited the Roosevelt Corollary as justification for U.S. intervention in Cuba (1906-1910), Nicaragua (1909-1911, 1912-1925 and 1926-1933), Haiti (1915-1934), and the Dominican Republic (1916-1924).

In 1928, under President Calvin Coolidge, the Clark Memorandum stated that the U.S. did not have the right to intervene unless there was an threat by European powers, reversing the Roosevelt Corollary. In 1934, Franklin D. Roosevelt further renounced interventionism and established his "Good Neighbor policy," thus tolerating the emergence of dictatorships like that of Batista in Cuba or Trujillo in the Dominican Republic


The argument made by Mitchener and Weidenmier (2006) in support of the Roosevelt Corrollary to the Monroe Doctrine has been criticized on the grounds that it "represent[s] the one-sided approach that some scholars bring to the study of imperialistic and hegemonic interventions and also highlight how arguments for the general utility of imperialism are increasingly made and accepted." Christopher Coyne and Stephen Davies (2007) list all the "public bads" associated with imperialist foreign intervention such as advocated in the Roosevelt Corollary to the Monroe Doctrine:

  1. Increase in paternalism at home
  2. Diverts attention away from liberty at home to foreign policy
  3. Imperial Overreach: Military spending grows and bankrupts intervening imperialist nations
  4. Protectionism and lobbying for future intervention by domestic interests increases
  5. Corrupt and incompetent "client ruling elites" tend to be installed by imperialist intervention (e.g. The Dominican Republic, Haiti, Nicaragua, El Salvador)
  6. Power is consolidated in client ruling elites and development is inhibited
  7. Short-term stability is traded for long-term instability
  8. Client ruling elites have incentives to quash economic and social development
  9. Increase in crony capitalism (e.g., Philippines)
  10. Protectionism, changes in the monetary system, militarism, and war reduce cooperation of economic agents
  11. Costs are imposed on "ordinary people" such as direct taxes and punishing protectionism
  12. Promotes zero-sum thinking among elites
  13. Promotes "bellicose masculinity", xenophobia, and racism (e.g., Teddy Roosevelt)
  14. Increases organized crime such as drug trade (e.g., Andes, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Burma)
  15. Failed states may be the result of earlier imperialism (e.g., Somalia, all of Africa, Latin America countries)
  16. Military force becomes the means of settling disputes
  17. Inhibits social and political change, as well as competition among elites
  18. Can inflame ethnic and religious conflicts
  19. Breeds distrust and lack of confidence in internal political institutions


  • Coyne, C.J., Davies, S. (2007). Empire: Public Goods and Bads. Econ Journal Watch, 4(1), 3-45.
  • Glickman, Robert Jay. Norteamérica vis-à-vis Hispanoamérica: ¿oposición o asociación? Toronto: Canadian Academy of the Arts, 2005.
  • Marks III, Frederick W. Velvet on Iron: The Diplomacy of Theodore Roosevelt (1979)
  • Nancy Mitchell. The Danger of Dreams: German and American Imperialism in Latin America (1999),
  • Mitchener, Kris James and Weidenmier, Marc. "Empire, Public Goods, and the Roosevelt Corollary." Journal of Economic History, 2005 65(3): 658-692. Issn: 0022-0507 Fulltext: in Swetswise
  • Ricard, Serge. "The Roosevelt Corollary." Presidential Studies 2006 36(1): 17-26. ISSN: 0360-4918 Fulltext: in Swetswise and Ingenta

See also

Search another word or see Roosevelt Corollaryon Dictionary | Thesaurus |Spanish
Copyright © 2015, LLC. All rights reserved.
  • Please Login or Sign Up to use the Recent Searches feature