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Why was imperialism so popular in Britain 1880-1902?

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Introduction

Why was imperialism so popular in Britain 1880-1902? Following on from the 'Scramble for Africa' in the late 19th Century, Britain continued in its aim to expand her empire, through the process of imperialism, into the period of 1880-1902. During this time, imperialism had become very popular in certain sectors of the British public. Causes of this range from, the impact of politicians to how the press and media portrayed the current events. However, it has to be noted there were significant fluctuations in popularity during this period, at events such as the Boer War etc. One of the major reasons behind the popularity of imperialism in Britain through out this period was down to the role of major political leaders. Benjamin Disraeli was the leader of the conservative party during this period, and he was a major supporter for the expansion of empire. He made several powerful speeches, in which he made significant reference to the British imperial expansion. During his speech in 1872, at Crystal Palace, he labelled India as the 'Jewel in the Crown' and that in England we had never had such an important 'possession'. ...read more.

Middle

He argued that by creating more jobs for British workers, it would result in lower unemployment in Britain. Many businesses believed they would be able to export more goods abroad, generating more revenue in the process. Not only this, but many companies also believed they would be able to import cheaper raw materials from these countries. This is one of the reasons behind the support of many middle class business men. Another was down to the potential gain from investment into new opportunities such as India. However, once again, popularity of the imperialism expansion dropped low as many farmer workers lost their jobs as cheaper goods were being brought into the country. With cheaper wheat coming in, farmers were beginning to struggle to generate any business due to the improved competition. Not only this, but many of the new jobs created by the expansion of empire were very poorly paid. This may have solved some issues of unemployment in the short term; however, many of the working class had lost their 'patriotic' approach to imperialism as they still struggled to get by. ...read more.

Conclusion

Magazines and children's literature such as 'Boy's Own Paper' put major emphasis on war, sport and other heroic events. This was an effective way of selling literature and also promoting the empire at the same time. Even in the nursery, 'ABC for Baby Patriots' was aimed at very young children, teaching them about the British Empire from their early stages. Another reason for the popularity of imperialism in this period could be seen as the 'jingoism' and 'patriotism' created by the music halls. During this period, the theatre became a very popular source of entertainment for a variety of classes. The theatre was another business that realised they could make a significant profit from promoting the empire with an 'imperial flavour'. Gilbert Hastings Farrell was one the major performers in the music halls up and down the land. He introduced the famous song 'We Don't Want to Fight, but By Jingo! If we do', which left the crowd feeling extremely patriotic and very 'pro-expansionist'. Music halls were a 'feel good' and enjoyable night out that was affordable to all classes, therefore, they had a significant impact on the popularity of imperialism during 1880-1902. ...read more.

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