Imperialism in the 19th century

Topics: Colonialism, Africa, Europe Pages: 5 (1732 words) Published: April 28, 2004
There was a great deal of Imperialism in the 19th century, led by mostly westerners from Europe. Imperialism is the act in which one nation extends its rule over another. Imperialism had a substantial effect on the 19th century throughout the entire world by bringing upon changes to many different countries, for better and for worse, especially to Africa.

Prior to the nineteenth century, westerners did interfere with many of the affairs of nations outside of their boarders, so signs of imperialism are shown many times throughout history. Examples of this would be the European colonies in the Americas and also influence in Asia. Whenever a western country was involved with the economy of an outside country,

There were many reasons for Imperialism, two of which were economical and political. What better way to boost an economy than to open markets in other areas of the world? The colonized nations had abundant supplies of resources that could not be found in Europe, which is what first attracted the westerners. Because of imperialism, not only did Europeans have access to resources in Africa and Asia, but they also had access to cheap labor by forcing the natives of the lands to work for little or no money. The desire of power and security for the military were also causes for Imperialism. By having control over distant lands, it would be a benefit, militarily, to have bases spread out around the world, especially during times of war. (Wakefield, Edward Gibbon A Letter from Sydney and Other Writings on Colonization)

Racism on account of Social Darwism was another major factor contributing to Imperialism. Social Darwism ("survival of the fittest") led to the Europeans' belief that they were of a higher race and it was their duty to go into other areas and improve the lives of the people who inhabited those lands. Improving lives meant spreading western religion (Christianity), culture, and influence. The following quote from The Backward Peoples and Our Relations with Them by Sir Harry H. Johnston shows an example of how westerners thought: "...Let us proceed to define who and what these backward or unprogressive peoples are and to what extent they may be considered to be retrograde and ineffective as compared with the dominating white race." There were many other examples of writing, such as The White Man's Burden by Rudyard Kipling, which supported the belief of white men being of some supremacy and of the white man's need to colonize. Nationalism also played a role in support of racism by allowing people to become extremely confident in their nationality and in turn, creating a form of the feeling of superiority. (Johnson, Sir Harry H. The Backward People and Our Relations with Them)

There was a lot of competition between the different European states economically and politically. Imperialism made this competition worse by creating another factor to contend over. Obviously a nation with many colonies throughout the world would be more powerful than one with very few colonies. So, when one western nation begins to take over foreign lands, it would only be natural for many others to follow the example as to not be left behind in the competition and for their own economic wealth. This occurred during the scramble for Africa, wherein European nations raced to gain control over different areas in Africa.

During the mid nineteenth century, Europeans were beginning to colonize along the coast of Africa, but couldn't go much further because disease would spread, quickly killing of much of the European settlers. Since at the time Europe was going through the Industrial Revolution, there were many advances not only made technologically, but also in the field of science and medicine. With new technology, goods could be mass produced in factories and so a surplus of goods was often an occurrence. Europeans turned to Africa for new markets as to make money off of their surpluses and Africa also was rich in natural...
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