• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Was late Victorian Imperialism purely economic in character?

Extracts from this document...


Was late Victorian Imperialism purely economic in character? In 1870 Britain held only a few settlements in Africa, which were little more than trading stations along the path to India; neither Gladstone nor Disraeli envisaged further expansion however by 1890 Africa was firmly established into the British Empire under formal control. Why did Britain sit at the head of a vast African empire over which it had claimed it had no desire? After 1870 the expansion of empire increased dramatically. Britain raced against the other European powers to acquire vast areas of land through formal annexation. Many historians including Cain and Hoppen agree with the theory of 'new imperialism' as opposed to Robinson and Gallagher's continuity theory of empire. They saw that 'suddenly and almost simultaneously between 1870 and 1900, the states of Europe began to extend their control over vast areas of the world' (Wright) this was viewed as an increasing move towards formal annexation over informal control. This new imperialism was accompanied by vast social changes in British society and politics. As Britain had peaked industrially earlier than the rest of the world, by 1870 industrial growth was beginning to stabilize, this, coupled with the rapid industrialisation of other great powers was seen by people of the time as factors signifying a 'great depression' in the British economy and lead to concerns over the balance of power within Europe which had previously favoured Britain, a change in this balanced was looking increasingly likely to be tipped in support of these growing powers. ...read more.


came to prominence in British discussions about Egypt just before intervention in 1882 where they only intervened to maintain an economic order that would suit Britain. Furthermore the interest in West Africa had been apparent long before the British occupation of Egypt. In 1873 British extension into the Gold coast had been authorized. Cain declares that the commercial crisis of the 1870s was giving both France and Britain colonialists in West Africa the incentive to expand the boundaries of the existing coastal enclaves, this lead to fear from France and Britain of each other's expansionist ideas which increased the idea for 'anticipatory annexation' (Hynes) on both sides. A factor that I have not discussed here is the way in which the idea of power was changing. In the Mid-century when Britain enjoyed the monopoly of the world economy and the classical liberal ideology of Britain seemed to be exported throughout its trade routes, with no foreign competition worthy of attention Britain saw power in terms of economy and trade. The theory of liberalism confounded this idea, that wars were something of feudal times and in the new social age free trade would ensure global harmony as it creates an environment suitable to all. However with the industrialization of foreign powers and their increasing threat to Britain this idea of power began to change. Due to the arrogance and ignorance of the British, we have seen how technological advancement that developed within the century was not taken up in Britain; a good example is in the cotton trades. ...read more.


governments, it does not mean that they were not done so on grounds of principle or ideology, as neither of these two factors appears to have had the chance to play much of a prominent role in this field. The governments at the time were expanding into Africa long before Gordon and Carnavron and so I feel that their impact was minimal. I believe that invariably all Imperial objectives during this period principally share an economic base. Taking into consideration the strategic theory put forward by Robinson and Gallagher upon more careful consideration we see how even this theory withholds economic foundations, by selecting to defend existing empire they are primarily defending trade interests and trade routes and thus protecting the British economy. Due to The rise of foreign powers and the idea of 'imperialism of fear' put forward by Eldridge yet again we see the economic motives at work, as Britain was afraid of becoming economically eclipsed. Even if we believe that popular opinion held great sway over policy we see how at home, the upper classes were interested in distracting the malcontent of the working classes, the working classes would attain jobs through the acquisition of new foreign markets, and the middle classes were interested in their investments, which lay in industry and trade determined this. The changing of the world into capitalism brought about the economic motives and desires of all industrial powers to acquire an empire with which to extend trade with. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level UK, European & Global Economics section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level UK, European & Global Economics essays

  1. Why did the colonial powers develop a need for African Slavery?

    [produced] a hierarchy of merit and rulership as a result of sin, different classes of men have been produced, and that these differentiated classes are ordained by divine justice." The twelfth and thirteenth century crusades saw Roman conceptions of who may be enslaved swelled by the inclusion of those captured

  2. Globalization is creating rapid and worldwide changes in communication, politics, and patterns of human ...

    Idealist look forward to a global village linked together by the Internet, and benefiting from ever-increasing material well being. Pessimists see a horrible corporate tyranny destroying the environment, and sweeping away all that is healthy and meaningful to human existence.

  1. Free essay

    Globalisation and changing career patterns

    Not only that, but it also presented opportunities to other companies to set up, expand or locate in traditional mining areas, many of which suffered from serious unemployment problems. The BCE initiative was a lifeblood for the ex British Coal employees.

  2. Why was the expansion of trade and empire so important in determining British foreign ...

    This brought in huge amounts of wealth into the British economy. For instance between 1850 and 1874 real wages increased by 1/3. And over a 24 year period from 1851-1875 the economy showed a total 8.4% growth. Importantly, it could "police" this trade with its supremely powerful navy.

  1. A Comparison Of The Path Of Development In

    Eventually these indentured servants were displaced by black slave labour because it became more profitable to transport slaves rather than indentured servants. Consequently, as a result of the population increase, exports in major staples thrived. Virginia became a booming economy in the early 1620s when the price of tobacco temporarily

  2. comparative HR Management

    efficiency by business at the expense of the account and competent use by the managers of different levels of national-cultural features of behaviour subordinated both partners and the same features actually of countries, in which their business is carried out.

  1. International trade - In this case I choose the country Canada. When doing a ...

    1 dollar is about 72 eurocents (Dec 2005). About three quart of the population is working in the service sector. The agricultural sector is very developed. Canada is one of the largest selling agricultural products in the world. The main products are cereals, fruits and vegetables, sugar beet and tobacco.

  2. Compare and contrast the levels of economic development in the regions of Europe and ...

    Using this, several outcomes can be gained. Firstly it can be shown in what areas does Africa need to improve itself to become a 'stronger' region and secondly ways to achieve this can be explained. With all this information, an answer to the question 'Compare and contrast the levels of

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work