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S6 History – 2hr
1870-1914 – The Age of Imperialism 2
Imperialism and beginnings of decolonisation
Imperialism - the domination by one country of the political, economic or cultural life of another country or
region, the "new imperialism" - aggressive European expansion in the 1800s
Causes of the new imperialism:
Economic interests - Ind. Rev. created needs/desires that spurred overseas expansion - manufacturers
wanted access to natural resources – e.g. rubber, petroleum, manganese for steel, palm oil for
machinery - hoped for new markets where they could sell their factory goods - colonies offered a
valuable outlet for Europe's growing population
Political and military interests - merchant ships, naval vessels needed bases around the world to take on
coal and supplies - industrial powers seized islands, harbors - nationalism and prestige - Western
leaders claimed colonies were needed for national security - ruling a global empire increased a nation's
Social and cultural interests - humanitarian goals - missionaries, doctors, colonial officials believed they
had a duty to spread western civilization (medicine, law, Christianity) also social Darwinism - many
Westerners believed in their racial superiority - idea that Europeans were superior to all others imperial conquest/destruction of weaker races was nature's way of improving the human species.
The Success of Western Imperialism - 1870-1914 - imperialist nations gained control over much of the world reasons for their success:
Weakness of Nonwestern States - older civilizations in decline (Ottoman Middle East, Mughal India,
Qing China) - in West Africa, slave trade undermined empires, kingdoms, and city-states
Western Advantages - strong economies, well-organized governments., powerful militaries (see battle
of Rorke's Drift 1879), superior technology, medical advances (for example: quinine - medicine to fight
malaria, maxim gun - early machine gun)
Forms of Imperial Rule
Colonies (a) direct rule - officials & soldiers sent to administer colonies (French) (b) indirect rule sultans, chiefs, other local rulers - urged leaders to get education in home country to become
westernized (British)
Protectorates - local rulers left in place but expected to follow advice of European advisers - cheaper
than running a colony
Spheres of Influence - areas in which outside powers claimed exclusive investment or trading privileges
(Europeans created them in China, U.S. in Latin America)
The Slave Trade - by early 1800s, Europeans had outlawed transatlantic slave trade, but East African slave trade
continued - 1787 - British organized Sierra Leone in West Africa as colony for former slaves - 1847 - Liberia
became an independent republic (settled by free blacks from the U.S.)
European Contacts Increase - Africa known as the "dark continent" because little was known about its interior
(difficult to maneuver rivers, disease kept many Europeans from venturing far) Missionaries - tried to spread
Christianity, spoke out against slavery - built schools, churches, medical clinics - paternalistic - saw Africans as
children in need of guidance.
1805. Mungo Park. Scottish doctor. Seeks source of Niger River.
1858. Richard Burton. English adventurer. Discovers Lake Tanganyika.
1860s. David Livingston. Scottish missionary. Went to Africa (1840). „Discovers‟ Victoria Falls (in 1855).
1869. Henry Stanley. Welsh journalist. Sets out to find Livingstone.
1871. Finally tracks Livingstone down in Tanzania. Greets him with now-legendary line: “Dr. Livingstone, I
1870s - Pierre Savorgnan de Brazza
A Scramble for Colonies - Belgian King Leopold II - hired Henry Stanley to explore Congo River basin,
arrange trade treaties with African leaders - hoped for conquest and profit - his activities in the Congo set off a
scramble by other European nations Berlin Conference - 1884 - European powers met to decide how to carve
up Africa - no Africans invited - recognized Leopold‟s claim to the Congo Free State but called for free trade on
Congo and Niger rivers - European powers couldn't claim any part of Africa without first setting up a
government. office there - within 20 years, most of the continent had been partitioned by European powers
The Congo - The people of the Congo were exploited as forced laborers, as were its natural resources
(copper, rubber, ivory) - laborers were beaten, mutilated - international outrage forced King Leopold II
to turn control of colony over to Belgian government
French Expansion - 1830s - France invaded, conquered Algeria (1000s of French, many more Algerians
killed in fighting) - late 1800s - Tunisia under French control, much of West and Central Africa French empire the size of continental U.S.
Britain Takes Its Share - 1815 - British took Cape Colony from the Dutch – Boers (Dutch settlers)
moved north - when they found gold and diamonds, British fought theme for control of the riches - led
to the Boer War (1889-1902) - guerilla warfare – the British won, but at great cost - 1910 - Britain
formed the Union of South Africa - government run by whites - complete racial segregation (apartheid)
until 1993 (Nelson Mandela became president.)
Portugal establishes colonies in Angola and Mozambique. Italy occupies Libya.
Germany takes lands in eastern and southwestern Africa for its “place in the sun.”
Beyond Africa
In early 1600s British East India Company wins trading rights on fringe of Mughal empire. The company was
mainly out to make money in trade of cotton, cloth, silk, sugar, and jute. As Mughal power declines, BEIC
power increases. By mid 1800s, BEIC controls 3/5 India.
1857. Sepoy Rebellion (Indian Mutiny) Angry sepoys (Indian soldiers in the British army) rose up against their
British officers in north and central India. Brutally massacre British men, women, and children in some places.
British crush revolt and then torch villages to kill unarmed Indians.
1858. The rule of the British East India Company is over. Britain takes direct control. Britain sets up colonial
rule. A viceroy governs in the name of the queen. Brits hold top civil service jobs.
This is a typically uneven imperial relationship. Britain sees India as a source of raw materials (cotton) and
market for goods (shirts). 1869. After Suez Canal opens British trade with India soars. Different Views on
Culture. Both the British and Indians are divided on their opinions of each other‟s culture. Some Indians admire
British power and technology. Learn English. (Gandhi is typical of this) Adopt western ways. Other Indians feel
the answer to change lay with their own Hindu or Muslim culture.
In late 1700s British merchants begin to make huge profits in trade of opium grown in India for Chinese tea
which was popular in Britain. Soon, Chinese are addicted to drug. The Chinese government outlaws opium and
executes Chinese drug dealers. China calls on Britain to stop the trade. Britain refuses and insists on its right to
free trade.
1839. Opium Wars starts. China destroys $6 million of opium that British brought to Canton. China sends
warships to clash with British merchants. British gunboats easily defeat Chinese boats with outdated weapons.
British gunboats bombard coastal and river ports.
1842, Treaty of Nanjing. Britain makes China accept a treaty that says China agrees
(1) to grant British citizens in China extraterritoriality rights (British law). (2) open five ports to foreign trade.
(3) lease Hong Kong to Britain. (4) pay $6 million as indemnity for loss of opium.
Other nations then demand „unequal treaties‟ from China, and get them!
1860. Russia seizes land on China‟s north border. Builds port of Vladivostok.
1894. Japan quickly defeats China. Japan takes over control of Taiwan
1899. USA demands Open Door Policy or equal access to trade with China.
1900. Violent anti-imperialism, anti-Christian movement by the „Righteous Fists of Harmony‟, attack foreigners
across China - „Boxer‟ Uprising -. Outside nations crush the Boxers.