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The New Imperialism (1869-1914)

Chapter 27 Outline
I. The New Imperialism: Motives and Methods
A. Political Motives
-Powers of the 19th century realized the great political importance of colonization
and the need to protect their overseas assets. Countries like Great Britain,
France, Portugal, and Belgium embraced the ideas of imperialism and colonized
areas not only to gain resources, but also to show political and military strength
around the world. They would also settle areas around their vital colonies in order
to protect their important colonies. Soon these countries realized that it was
easier to conquer the local populations instead of trying to make peace with
them, changing the way the settled areas. Colonial officials seized land just so
that rivals could not use the land, gaining more land for their home country yet
forcing the indigenous population away, and telling their government afterward.
B. Cultural Motivations
-Not only was there a new renewal of the Christian mission effort, but also a need
to spread “civilization” to “barbaric” areas of the world. They felt the need to teach
the indigenous peoples of the places they settled proper social standards of
hygiene, education, marriage, etc.
-Many of the people who served as missionaries were women who served as
nurses and teachers; they joined these mission societies hoping to gain more
authority and autonomy than they could get at home. These women helped to
soften the harsh colonial rule by calling attention to important issues like
-Many missionaries and colonial expeditions from Europe and America felt
technologically and culturally superior to the indigenous population. Some people
thought that these people had to be educated before they could be as good as
the “civilized” people. Others were extreme racist and believed that the natives
were permanently inferior to them. They believed that the white people were at
the top of the biological pyramid with the native people always at the bottom.
-At first imperialism only attracted small groups of clergy and businessmen, but it
slowly gained support from young men eager to become the predecessors to the
Spanish conquistadors. At first there was very little popular support for
imperialism in the government or in the general population. But slowly as more
and more victories overseas piled up, people and government officials became
more and more willing to support these expeditions. Parliaments and government
officials began to sponsor these groups as they settled other regions. In the US,
the main concern was pushing out west into the frontier country. By the 1890s
though, more attention was on expanding beyond the continent’s borders.
C. Economic Motives
-Because of the Industrial revolution, demand for raw materials was at an all time
high. Copper was needed for wire, coal for fuel, tin for cans, steel for structures,
and or course gold and silver. Demands for certain crops were high too; business
owners needed rubber, tobacco, cotton, sugar, coffee, and tea to sell and use in
the new industrial markets.
-The governments of these countries were able to justify their need to send
troops and use force to secure resources with the economic depression in the
1870s and 80s. They stated that they needed to protect their sources of revenue
and needed to protect their merchants from competition overseas. The
businessmen needed to be able to find a way to make profit outside their
countries as opportunities began to fade in their homeland. They looked towards
mines and plantations in Asia, India, and other similar places to make a profit.
This was and extremely risky move, so they looked for government backing in
their investments.
D. The Tools of the Imperialists
-The industrial revolution gave Europeans for the first time, all of the necessary
tools needed to build their Imperialistic empires. The industrial revolution allowed
for war supplies to be made faster and more efficiently than non-developed
countries and helped to spur the economy to great heights.
-New innovations like the steam-powered boat allowed the Europeans to remain
in control of the oceans, as they had been since the 1500s. The regular
steamships with efficient engines, along with the Suez Canal gave Europe
incredible mobility throughout the Indian ocean and made sending supplies and
troops much more efficient than anything that the Asians or Africans could match.
Submarine cables also gave Europe an advantage when it came to
-Europe had been using gunboats to help then penetrate further and further
inland into countries like China and Africa, but natural obstacles such as malaria
had prevented their ground forces from being effective. In 1854 a British doctor
discovered a drug that could prevent malaria from infecting people who were
vulnerable to the disease (like most Europeans). This allowed merchants,
missionaries, and ground troops to move into Africa.
-Before the 1860s and 70s, the Europeans and Africans used the same
smoothbore muskets due to the large quantities that had been traded over the
past centuries. In the late 19th century though, Europe began producing and
using much deadlier weaponry. Europeans developed breech-loading and
repeating rifles, allowing them to shoot faster, more accurately, and with greater
precision. The innovation of smokeless powder allowed the riflemen to shoot
without revealing his position and did not foul the guns. The advent of the
machine gun also appeared in the late 19th century. These new deadly weapons
made any battles with the Africans and Indians a very one-sided battle. The
indigenous population was stuck using old inaccurate, single shot rifles while the
Europeans could shoot quickly, and with deadly accuracy. Needless to say the
stunned local population often found themselves facing defeat within a short
E. Colonial Agents and Administration
-The colonial officials who took over the new territories conquered by their
nation’s armies used a system of colonialism to rule the county. Colonialism is
administrating and exploiting colonies for the benefit of the home country. The
governments of the home country expected colonial officials to do this, covering
all costs and hopefully benefiting the home country. By applying the new
industrial and scientific ideas being used in their home countries to these
colonies, they were able to transform these colonies into a workplace that would
return profit to the home country.
-In the early stages of Imperialism, the colonial government consisted of a
governor, his staff, and some troops to help keep the peace. The colonies could
not operate without the cooperation of the local elites because there were not
enough officials to rule over the entire colonial area.
-Women were brought into the picture after a colonial government was
established and the officers and governor brought their wives to live with them.
There was increasing racial segregation because of this and women were often
in command of several foreign servants.
II. The Scramble for Africa
A. Egypt
-Ironically it was Egypt’s quest to become more powerful and free itself form the
Ottoman Turk’s rule that made it susceptible to the European Imperialization.
During the 1800s the Egyptians undertook large public works projects, military
training, and a large transportation network. These made Egypt incur large
amounts of debt because of all the money borrowed from European banks.
Because of increasing pressure from the banks to pay back the loans, the
Egyptians sold their shares of the Suez Canal and appointed four British
commissioners of debt. When the Ottomans started to threaten the Suez Canal,
a vital route for the Europeans, the British immediately sent troops down to
diffuse the situation. Originally they were only going to stay for 2 years, but they
ended up staying for over 70.
B. Western and Equatorial Africa
-In the 1800s while Britain was taking over Egypt, the French were expanding
into West Africa. They had already taken Senegal and they were planning to build
a railroad up the river to allow merchants to penetrate further inland. Because of
a disagreement over who had territorial rights over equatorial Africa, the Berlin
Conference was held. This conference effectively split up Africa into separate
pieces and helped to calm any fighting between the major powers, because trade
was a vital part of Africa. This effective cooperation took years to establish.
-Because of the flourishing West African trade, foreign merchants were able to
use the existing trade networks to make a profit. They used private companies
that forced Africans to grow cash crops and carry them to rivers for shipment.
C. Southern Africa
-Southern Africa had been a long coveted area because of its lush pastures,
farmland, and rich mineral deposits. When diamonds at Kimberly were found in
1868, thousands of European prospectors swarmed the area. This and the
annexing of Kimberly angered local tribes like the Zulu and created military
tension between them and the Europeans. Despite their strong nationalism and
pride, the Europeans defeated them in 1879. Relations between the Africans and
the British were soon stressed to the max when gold was discovered and the
resulting gold rush caused the Europeans to outnumber the Africans.
-Cecil Rhodes was one of the prospectors who made millions in Kimberly. He
encouraged the British South African Company to into Central Africa. They did so
and Cecil made two colonies: Southern and Northern Rhodesia. The native
people living there resisted at first but the European military technology soon
defeated them. The 1913 South African Natives Land Act forced all the local
peoples onto reservations, creating segregation and oppression throughout
South Africa
D. Political and Social Consequences
-When Europe began to colonize Africa, it contained many different kinds of
society. Some countries lived with a well-developed economy dominated by
commercial towns and the merchant class aristocracies, while others lived in
small agricultural villages with no outside rule or government. There were even
remote areas of hunters-gathers and pastoral nomads.
-Some of these societies welcomed the Europeans as allies against local
enemies. They would seek government jobs and send their kids to missionary
schools once colonial rule was established in return for protection, clinics, and
roads. Other cultures, especially those with a warrior or pastoral background
were not as accepting. Tribes like the Zulu and Ndebele fought fiercely against
the German invaders in the 1900s losing over 2/3 when they finally gave in.
Other tribes with strong roots in Islam led jihads against the Europeans. They
were ineffective however and they were all defeated. The only known successful
resistance to the European colonization was with the Ethiopians in 1889. Ethiopia
was under the rule of an emperor named Menelik who was smart enough to buy
new and modern weapons when European expansion started. The Ethiopian
military training and tactics were superior to those of the Italians who tried to
conquer them, ending in a surprising Ethiopian victory.
-Some countries in response to growing European dominance, tried to ignore
them and continue living their lives as they had been. They found this becoming
harder and harder to do though as the colonial rule disrupted the commercial,
economic, and social aspects of the colony.
-New taxes on seized land put an especially large burden on the African farmers
and herders who needed land. In other places European rulers seized the land
and gave it to private European landowners, forcing the indigenous people onto
reserves. The tax forced on upon the Africans was usually so harsh that few of
the Africans could maintain a living on it. European jobs did not offer high enough
wages to be attractive to Africans, but it was the only way that the indigenous
people could pay these harsh taxes. These taxes were often counter productive
and forced African people to move away.
E. Cultural Response
-Most Europeans came in contact with missionaries, and these missionaries
taught them things like reading, writing, and arithmetic. Boys were taught
practical skills like carpentry and blacksmithing while girls learned things like
cooking, cleaning, and childcare.
-In addition to practical skills, missionaries taught western ideas and principals of
society and justice. They taught Christian morals and values which the Africans
found clashed with colonial reality. They started using their new Christian values
they learned to criticize and critique colonialism and New Imperialism. Eventually
the Africans took over the teaching role and used their position of authority to
further criticize the Imperialism.
-Islam also spread out during this time period. Imperialism helped to spread
Islam though the expansion of cites and towns and letting Muslims settle in
previously unsettled areas.

III. Asia and Western Dominance

A. Central Asia
-When Genghis Khan was leading the steppe people, he could have easily taken
over Russia and its people. This trend continued on for several years until Russia
acquired modern weapons. From 1865 to 1876 the Russians used this modern
weaponry to make advances into Central Asia. The nomadic population resisted
fiercely by they starved by the end of the 1800s and their lands were fenced off
and given to the Russian farmers.
-South of these Steppes the Qing guarded the deserts and oasis cites of
Samarkand and Tashkent where the trade routes ran between the Middle East
and Asia. However the decline of the Qing meant that the Russians could now
conquer this land and its Muslim populations. The Russians were able to grow
thousands of acres of cotton on this land and built railroads, although they did not
try to change the culture or customs of the local peoples.
B. Southeast Asia and Indonesia
-The areas of Burma, Malaya, Indochina, and northern Sumatra were all
independent kingdoms in the early 1800s, and conquered in the early 1900d. All
of the areas had favorable growing conditions like fertile soil, and good climate,
and developed agriculture. The Imperialism introduced Chinese and Indian
labors for the new agricultural plantations as well as new crops. They were able
to increase crop turnout and since they were able to provide a steady supply of
food, the population sharply grew.
-The missionaries tried to spread Christianity into these new areas, but they were
unable to because of the local unwillingness to convert. Islam however, thrived in
this region and was able to spread successfully because people did not feel as
though it were being forced upon them.
C. Hawaii and the Philippines
-By the end of the nineteenth century the US economy realized that they needed
to export manufactured goods because they could not expand their own markets
any farther. The political and social mood in America was that of expansion and
the Hawaiian Islands, controlled by the American settlers who originally settled
there in 1893 were annexed into the US in 1898 to help fed the expansion fever.
-In the Philippines a man named Emilio Aguinaldo led a revolt against their
Spanish conquerors and declared the Philippines a republic in 1898.
Unfortunately right after this the United States defeated Spain in war and bought
the Philippines from the Spanish. The next year Aguinaldo once again rose up
and revolted against America and its occupation in the Philippines. The United
States quashed the rebellion and tried to calm the public by introducing public
works and projects that would further the Philippines economy.

IV. Imperialism in Latin America

A. Railroads and the Imperialism of Free Trade
-Latin America’s rich resources made it perfect for colonization and the only thing
it needed was a way to open up its interior to new development. The railroad
would prove to be the answer to the problem. European and American
entrepreneurs, as well as foreign banks helped to financed and built large
railroad systems in order to exploit Latin America and its abundance of mineral
and agricultural resources. Local elites encouraged this process because it would
help modernize their country and spread wealth to them.
B. American Expansion and the Spanish American War
-Despite the fact that the Americans and Europeans were using their wealth to
penetrate Latin America, they avoided open warfare and territorial conquest. The
Europeans avoided this for four main reasons: they were overextended in Asia
and Africa, there was no local resistance, and the US claimed to defend the
entire West from European intervention.
-The US engaged in a short war with Spain and ended up winning the
Philippines, Guam, and Puerto Rico.