The Acting Secretary of State to the Salvadoran Minister (Sol)

Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of the note Number 752 dated December 14, 1919 from Señor Don Juan Franco Paredes, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Salvador in which the Minister of Foreign Affairs requests this Government to set forth its interpretation of the Monroe Doctrine because of the bearing which such interpretation might have on the attitude of the Government of Salvador toward the Covenant of the League of Nations.

In reply I have the honor to inform you that the views of this government with reference to the Monroe Doctrine were set forth in the address of the President of the United States to the Second Pan American Scientific Congress, copy of the pertinent portions of which I beg to attach herewith.

Accept [etc.]

Frank L. Polk

Extract from the Address of President Wilson, Delivered January 6, 1916, before the Second Pan American Scientific Congress85

The Monroe doctrine was proclaimed by the United States on her own authority. It always has been maintained, and always will be maintained, upon her own responsibility. But the Monroe doctrine demanded merely that European Governments should not attempt to extend their political systems to this side of the Atlantic. It did not disclose the use which the United States intended to make of her power on this side of the Atlantic. It was a hand held up in warning, but there was no promise in it of what America was going to do with the implied and partial protectorate which she apparently was trying to set up on this side of the water; and I believe you will sustain me in the statement that it has been fears and suspicions on this score which have hitherto prevented the greater intimacy and confidence and trust between the Americas. The States of America have not been certain what the United States would do with her power. That doubt must be removed. And latterly there has been a very frank interchange of views between the authorities in Washington and those who represented the other States of this hemisphere, an interchange of views charming and hopeful, because based upon an increasingly sure appreciation of the spirit in which [Page 227] they were undertaken. These gentlemen have seen that if America is to come into her own, into her legitimate own, in a world of peace and order, she must establish the foundations of amity so that no one will hereafter doubt them.

I hope and I believe that this can be accomplished. These conferences have enabled me to foresee how it will be accomplished. It will be accomplished in the first place by the States of America uniting in guaranteeing to each other absolutely political independence and territorial integrity. In the second place, and as a necessary corollary to that, guaranteeing the agreement to settle all pending boundary disputes as soon as possible and by amicable process; by agreeing that all disputes among themselves, should they unhappily arise, will be handled by patient, impartial investigation, and settled by arbitration; and the agreement necessary to the peace of the Americas, that no State of either continent will permit revolutionary expeditions against another State to be fitted out on its territory, and that they will prohibit the exportation of the munitions of war for the purpose of supplying revolutionists against neighboring Governments.

  1. Held in Washington Dee. 27, 1915–Jan. 8, 1916. For the complete address, see Ray Stannard Baker and William E. Dodd (eds.), The Public Papers of Woodrow Wilson: The New Democracy (New York, 1926, 2 vols.), vol. i, pp. 439–445.