In this wide-ranging Annual Message delivered in writing to the House and Senate on December 6, 1904, President Theodore Roosevelt reported on a number of items pertaining to domestic and foreign relations. Reminiscent of other Annual Messages of the time, it provided an update on executive branch agencies, proffered solutions to the country’s challenges, and reported on the nation’s international standing.
Article II of the Constitution requires that the President, “shall from time to time give to the Congress Information of the State of the Union, and recommend to their Consideration such Measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient.” The name of the speech has changed over time from an “Annual Message” to the current use of “State of the Union.”
Roosevelt used striking language to describe how far the United States would go to secure stability in Latin America and the Caribbean. “Chronic wrongdoing, or an impotence which results in a general loosening of the ties of civilized society, may in America, as elsewhere, ultimately require intervention by some civilized nation,” he stated. “[In] the Western Hemisphere the adherence of the United States to the Monroe Doctrine may force the United States, however reluctantly, in flagrant cases of such wrongdoing or impotence, to the exercise of an international police power.” This response, originally intended to prevent European invasion of Venezuela over a credit dispute, would become known as the Roosevelt Corollary to the Monroe Doctrine and an example of the President’s “Big Stick” approach used to justify interventions throughout Latin America.