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"Old Imperialism"
 Old Imperialism occurs in the 15th through
18th centuries in Africa, India, the
Americas, and parts of Asia. The motives
were the same for most areas, the
establishment of lucrative trade
routes. Various European countries
dominated these trade routes at one time
or another, and some countries, such as
Great Britain and Spain, came to dominate
entire countries.
"Old Imperialism"
 European powers did not usually acquire
territory (except for Spain in Americas and
Portugal in Brazil) but rather built a series
of trading stations. Respected and
frequently cooperated with local rulers in
India, China, Japan, Indonesia, and other
areas where trade flourished between
locals and European coastal trading
"Old Imperialism"
 Economic penetration of non-European
regions in the 19th century
• Opium Wars:
1839–42 and
1856–60, two wars
between China
and Western
• A. First Opium War
• The first was between
Great Britain and China.
Early in the 19th
century, British
merchants began
smuggling opium into
China in order to
balance their purchases
of tea for export to
 In 1839, China enforced its prohibitions on
the importation of opium by destroying at
Guangzhou (Canton) a large quantity of
opium confiscated from British merchants.
Great Britain, which had been looking to
end China's restrictions on foreign trade,
responded by sending gunboats to attack
several Chinese coastal cities.
 China, unable to withstand modern
arms, was defeated and forced to sign
the Treaty of Nanjing (1842) and the
British Supplementary Treaty of the
Bogue (1843). These provided that
the ports of Guangzhou, Jinmen,
Fuzhou, Ningbo, and Shanghai should
be open to British trade and
residence; in addition Hong Kong was
ceded to the British.
 Within a few years
other Western powers
signed similar treaties
with China and received
domination of China's
treaty ports began.
• B. Taiping Rebellion of
• Primarily caused by
differing Chinese
factions: rebels
opposed Manchus. As
many as 20 million
people perished.
Manchus defeated
rebellion after 14 years
with the help of the
British military.
• C. Second Opium War (1856-1860)
• In 1856 a second war broke out following an
allegedly illegal Chinese search of a Britishregistered ship, the Arrow, in Guangzhou. British
and French troops took Guangzhou and Tianjin
and compelled the Chinese to accept the
treaties of Tianjin (1858), to which France,
Russia, and the United States were also party.
China agreed to open 11 more ports, permit
foreign legations in Beijing, sanction Christian
missionary activity, and legalize the import of
• China's subsequent attempt to block the entry of
diplomats into Beijing as well as Britain's
determination to enforce the new treaty terms
led to a renewal of the war in 1859. This time the
British and French occupied Beijing and burned
the imperial summer palace (Yuan ming yuan).
The Beijing conventions of 1860, by which China
was forced to reaffirm the terms of the Treaty of
Tianjin and make additional concessions,
concluded the hostilities.
• Commodore
William Perry (U.S.):
forced Japan to
open trade in 1853
• Became a protectorate of Great Britain from 1883 until
1956. Turkish general Muhammad Ali had established
Egypt into a strong and virtually independent state by 1849.
Egypt's inability to satisfy foreign investors led to control of
its finances by France & Britain. Safeguarding the Suez
Canal (completed in 1869) played a key role in the British
occupation of Egypt and its bloody conquest of the Sudan.
European Migration
• between 1815 and 1932 more than 60
million people left Europe. Migrants went
primarily to European-inhabited areas:
North and South America, Australia, New
Zealand, and Siberia. European migration
provided further impetus for Western
expansion. Most were poor from rural
areas, though seldom from the poorest
classes (due to oppressive land policies)
• Began in 1870s colonized Asia and Africa
by using military force to take control of
local governments, exploiting local
economies for raw materials required by
Europe’s growing industry and imposing
Western values to benefit the “backwards”
Major causes for the imperialist impulse:
Economic MotivesThe Industrial Revolution created
an insatiable demand for raw materials and new
NationalismEuropean nations wanted to demonstrate
their power and prestige to the world.
Balance of PowerEuropean nations were forced to
acquire new colonies to achieve a balance with their
neighbors and competitors.
White Man's BurdenThe Europeans’ sense of
superiority made them feel obligated to bring their
version of civilization to areas they considered
uncivilized. Missionary work
• A. Dr. David
Livingstone: first
white man to do
humanitarian and
religious work in
south and central
• B. H. M. Stanley
found Livingston
(whom westerners
thought to be dead)
and his newspaper
reports created
European interest in
Africa; Stanley sought
aid of king of Belgium
to dominate the
Congo region.
• C. New military and naval bases to protect
one's interests against other European
powers Britain concerned by French &
German land grabs in 1880s; might seal
off their empires with high tariffs &
restrictions; future economic opportunities
might be lost forever.
• D. Increased tensions between the
“haves” (e.g. British Empire) and the “have
nots" (e.g. Germany & Italy) who came in
late to the imperialistic competition.
Ideology: nationalism and Social
Darwinism. Germany and Russia
especially used imperialistic drives to
divert popular attention from the class
struggle at home and to create a false
sense of national unity
• E. "White Man's
Burden": racist
patronizing that
preached that the
“superior” Westerners
had an obligation to
bring their culture to
“uncivilized” peoples in
other parts of the
world. Poem by
Rudyard Kipling
• 1880, Europeans controlled
10% of Africa; by 1914
controlled all except Liberia &
Ethiopia ( Belgian Congo). At
behest of Leopold II, H. M.
Stanley established trading
stations, signed “treaties” with
African chiefs, and claimed land
for Belgium.
incursion into Congo basin
raised the question of the
political fate of black Africa
(south of the Sahara); also
Britain's conquest of Egypt.
• Berlin Congress, 1884-85:
established the "rules" for
conquest of Africa.
Sponsored by Bismarck &
Jules Ferry; sought to
prevent conflict over
imperialism. Congress
coincided with Germany's
rise as an imperial
power. Agreed to stop
slavery and slave trade in
King Leopold II and
the Congo Free State
“I do not want to miss
a good chance of
getting a slice of this
magnificent African
--Leopold II (after
Brussels conference)
a. Germany took control of Cameroon,
Togo, southwest Africa, & East Africa
b. France took control Tunisia, Algeria,
French West Africa (including Morocco,
Sahara, Sudan, Congo basin)
c. Britain: perhaps the most enlightened of the
imperialist powers (though still
oppressive). Took control of Egypt in 1883
(model for "New Imperialism").
southward and took control of Sudan
Battle of Omdurman (1898): General Horatio H.
Kitchener defeated Sudanese tribesman and killed
11,000 (use of machine gun) while only 28 Britons
Fashoda Incident (1898): France & Britain nearly
went to war over Sudan; France backed down in the
face of the Dreyfus Affair
d. South Africa and the
Boer War (1899-1902)
Cecil Rhodes had become
Prime Minister of Cape Colony
; principal sponsor of the Capeto Cairo dream where Britain
would dominate the continent.
Diamonds and gold were
discovered in the Transvaal and
Rhodes wanted to extend his
influence there but region
controlled by Boers
(descendents of Dutch settlers)
– Kruger Telegram (1902): Kaiser
Wilhelm II, dispatched telegram to
Boers congratulating them on
defeating British invaders without
need of German
assistance. Anger swept
through Britain aimed at
– Massive British force eventually
defeated Boers and in 1910 the
Transvaal, Orange Free State,
Cape Colony, & Natal combined
to form the Union of South Africa.
– By 1900, Britain controlled 1/5 of world's
territory: including Australia, Canada,
India· "The Empire upon which the sun never
sets": Possible to travel around world by
railroad & sea, moving only through British
– e. Italy: took control of Libya
Imperialism and the Balance of Power
• 3. Asia
• France: Jules Ferry – Indochina
• Britain: Burma, Malay Peninsula,
North Borneo
• Germany: certain Pacific islands
• Russia: Persia, outlying provinces
of China
• Spanish-American War, 1898:
U.S. defeated Spain, took
Philippines, Guam, Hawaii &
Responses to Western Imperialism
in Asia
• A. India was the jewel of the
British Empire
– Mogul Empire: Muslims
empire in Indian subcontinent
fell apart in the 17th century
– British East India Company
took last native state in India
by 1848. Robert Clive
captured military posts in
Madras and England ousted
France from India
Responses to Western Imperialism
in Asia
• Sepoy Mutiny, 1857-58 Insurrection of Hindu & Muslim
soldiers in British Army spread in northern & central India
before it was crushed, primarily by loyal native troops from
southern India. After 1858, India ruled by British Parliament
in London and administered by a tiny, all-white civil service
in India.
Responses to Western Imperialism
in Asia
• British reforms in India.
Modern system of
progressive secondary
education (to train
Indian civil servants),
economic reforms
(irrigation, railroads,
tea and jute
plantations), creation
of unified and powerful
– Indian National
Congress formed in
Responses to Western Imperialism
in Asia
• Educated
Hindu, demanded
equality & selfgovernment.
• India became
independent in
1946 (just after
Responses to Western Imperialism
in Asia
• China: carved into spheres
of influence in late 19th
– Sino-Japanese War of 189495 revealed China’s
helplessness, triggered a rush
for foreign concessions and
protectorates in China. Britain,
France, Germany, Russia and
Japan each came to control a
piece of eastern China
Responses to Western Imperialism
in Asia
– Dr. Sun Yat-sen a
revolutionary, sought
to overthrow the
Manchu dynasty and
establish a republic;
sparked the beginning
of a Chinese
nationalist movement
Responses to Western Imperialism
in Asia
– Open Door Policy,
sponsored by the U.S.
in 1899, sought to open
commerce to imperial
latecomers like itself,
urged the Europeans to
allow free trade within
China while respecting
its territorial integrity.
Responses to Western Imperialism
in Asia
– Boxer Rebellion,
1900: Patriotic
uprising by
against Western
was put down by
imperial powers in
1900; Manchu
dynasty would
soon fall
Responses to Western Imperialism
in Asia
• Japan
• Unlike China, Japan
quickly modernized
and became an
imperial power by late
19th century. Meiji
Restoration, 1867:
resulted in series of
reforms to compete
with the West
Responses to Western Imperialism
in Asia
• Russo-Japanese War (1904): Russia and
Japan both had designs on Manchuria and
Korea. Japanese concerned about Russian
Trans-Siberian Railway across Manchuria .
Japan destroyed Russian fleet off coast of Korea
and won major battles on land although
Russians turned the tide on land
subsequently. Westerners horrified that Japan
had defeated a major Western power.
Responses to Western Imperialism
in Asia
• Treaty of Portsmouth
(mediated by U.S. president
Theodore Roosevelt) ended
war with Japan winning major
concessions (preferred position
in Manchuria, protectorate in
Korea, half of Sakhalin Island.
Long-term impact of war:
Russia turned to the Balkans,
Russian Revolution, and revolt
of Asia in 20th century (Asians
hoped to emulate Japan power
and win their independence)
annexation of Korea
J. A. Hobson believed imperialism
benefited only the wealthy; antiimperialism increased. Hobson was
a British economist and journalist.
He was noted for his analysis of
capitalism and imperialism. In 1189,
he advanced the then-heretical
thesis that cyclical economic
depressions and unemployment
were caused by oversaving and
underspending, a thesis he restated
in The Evolution of Modern
Capitialism (1894).
• Hobson was an intellectual forerunner of John
Maynard Keynes. In Imperialism (1902), Hobson
argued that although imperialism is caused by
many factors, its “economic taproot” is critical:
domestic maldistribution of income and
corporate monopolistic behavior result in a glut
of capital and underproduction; the capitalist
financial class must therefore seek investment
opportunities abroad. Hobson’s analysis had a
great impact on Marxist writers.