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Age Of Empire 1800 1914 Notes

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'Old' vs. 'New' Imperialism Classical Theories: What came before the 'New' Imperialism?
John Seeley, The Expansion of England (1883)-Focus on: o

Decades before the 'new imperialism'


Pax Britannica (1815)


North America, West Indies and India


Constitutional and political relations

'Anti-imperialism' and colonial retraction: o

Abolition of the slave trade (1807) and slavery (1833)


Congress of Vienna 1815 - French colonial losses


Iberian colonial losses/weakness


Repeal of Corn Laws (1846)


'Responsible Government' in Australasia from 1855 & Canada from 1867

Implied that English expansion was not deliberate; more like accidental expansion

The 'Old' Historiography:1800-70 anti-imperial years and focus on colonial retraction1870-1914 emergence of 'new' imperialism o

Transition from 'anti-imperial' period to 'new' imperialism is the main focus of the debate

John. A. Hobson (1858-1940):Imperialism: A Study (1902)Liberal tendencies; critical of capitalism but not socialistArgued that Imperialism was the outcome of long term, large scale economic developmentsIndustrialisation, combined with nationalism emerging in the 19th century, initiated the period of 'new' imperialismHobson places sole significance on economics; neglects importance of international competition/military power & influence


Argued that only a small section of society benefited from imperialism'New' imperialism was distinct because there was no extension of political systems: autocraticNoble aims used to justify imperial expansion (White-man's burden)Growth of production efficiency exceeded consumption potential; mal-distribution of consumption power (rather than increasing production efficiency) demanded the opening of new markets oOpening of new markets required overseas expansion

Influenced by second Anglo-Boer War (1899-1902) and 'Great Depression' 1873-1896 o

Focus on role of 'sub-imperialists'Cecil Rhodes, Nathaniel de Rothschild, Jameson raid



Dark side of the Boer Waro

Significant role of individuals in imperial expansion and conflict

Writing influenced by this; critical of imperialism

'Great Depression' 1873-96Uneven economic growth and contraction, and under-consumption combined with a drop in prices led to a crash in the Vienna stock market; nations adopted protectionist measures and searched for new markets overseas

*Imperial expansion

Transition from industrial to finance capital

Vladimir. I. Lenin (1870-1924):Imperialism, the highest stage of capitalism: a popular outline (1916) o

Classical Marxist interpretationMassive influence from John HobsonImperialism:o

'monopoly stage of capitalism'


Beginning of the redistribution rather than initial distribution of the world would cause the inter-capitalist conflict that would eventually end in worldwide communist revolution

Territorial expansion was not initially imperialism; imperialism began in the 1900's o

Focus on redistribution


Writing to explain to origins of the First World War o

Attempts to portray imperialism as the originsColonialism needed because capital was not profitable in domestic markets due to uneven developmentBeginnings of investment of capital in potentialImperialism accelerated capitalist development through the expansion of existing economic disparity - uneven development caused decay o

More imperialism = quicker decay

Joseph A. Schumpeter (1883-1950):Imperialism and social classes: two essays (1919) oHeavily influenced by the effects of WW1 alongside post-war colonial sentimentWidespread anti-Imperialist feelingsDemise of German, Austro-Hungarian and Russian EmpiresDemocratisation, domestic reform, 'self-determination'

Economist and sociologist o

Focus on social effects unlike Lenin & HobsonFavours free trade and laissez-faire capitalismImperialism o

An irrational and 'objectless' inclination towards war and conquest


The effect of atavistic social structures and psychological modes of thought stemming from pre-capitalist timesoAristocratic values of militarism, power politics and autocracy

Believed Imperialism was destined to disappear

Does not think that imperialism and capitalism are intertwined at all and that they should be treated as distinct notions

Classical theory conclusions:Focused on metropolitan impulses'New' imperialism begins in 1873? Or 1900?Focus on tropics and sub tropicsFinance capitalism - completely focused on economics


Atavistic (Schumpeter) oImperialism the continuation of 'aristocratic' modes of behaviour

Nationalism and Jingoism prevalent

Challenges to traditional historiography: John Gallagher & Ronald Robinson:'The Imperialism of Free Trade' (1953)Africa and the Victorians: the official mind of imperialism (1961)Challenging 'New' Imperialism: o

Contest the partition of imperialism into phaseso

Continuity in imperial policies

Continuity found by considering the 'informal' empiresFree trade IS and CAN BE imperialism



There were no colonial retractions, just transformations in the nature of controloSelf-governing provinces were still under the control of the metropole

Territorial annexations continued throughout the 19th centuryo


Punjab, Singapore, Cape colony etc.

Difference between the two 'phases' was the pace and quality of imperial expansion

Challenging 'Economic' Imperialism: o

Can economics explain the colonial scramble of the late 19 th century?Was the scramble for Africa and subsequent annexations economically beneficial to the nations involved?


Lenin's point about investment in potential


New colonies in Africa and East Asia saw the least amount of trade and investment


Formal annexations were a reluctant, involuntary and defensive mechanismo

Last resort

'Official mind' of imperialism determines nature and method of expansion


oNational interest in imperial expansion

Challenging 'Euro-centricity': o

'Formal' imperialism not the product of pressures from within European metropoles, but a response to 'local crises' in the periphery


Stress agency of indigenous society, settlers or 'men on the spot' in determining the nature of European imperialismoOfficial mind is the ideas, perceptions and intentions of those who had a bearing on British imperial policies

Communication still slow; impossible for London to make every decision regarding empire, especially those that arose out of dispute or conflict (which probably most often led to formal, military expansion in protection of economic interests)

Stress the nature and degree of 'collaboration'

Summarisation of the argument: o

Continuity between 'anti-imperialist' age and 'new' imperialism


Difference in nature & pace


The 'official mind'


'Local crises', breakdown of 'collaborative arrangements', or development of new ones

Peter Cain & Tony Hopkins:British Imperialism: Innovation & Expansion, 1688-1914 (1993)British Imperialism: Crisis & Deconstruction, 1914-1990 (1990)Return to metropolitan & economic explanations oSimilar to classical theories & challenging Gallagher and Robinson

Emphasis on continuity & on Britain o

Similar to Gallagher and RobinsonOnset with the 'Glorious Revolution' of 1688Gentlemanly Capitalism o

Empire driven by 'gentlemanly capitalists':Amalgam comprising landed aristocrats, bankers, financiers and the service sector; focused in the south and south-east of England (especially London); united by education, marital ties, cultural and ideological affinities

?Excluded (most) industrialists - industrial capitalism considered socially unacceptable to the elites because it was associated with the grind of hard labour; only 'non-industrial' capitalists can become 'gentlemen'

Link between Gentlemanly capitalists and British Imperialism: o

Gentlemanly capitalism the dominant force behind the British economy


Overseas expansion was a byproduct of the financial revolution not the industrial revolution:Driven by the needs of the finance/service sectorsSecured returns on capital investmentsEnsure servicing of foreign-held debtsProtected service industriesSeamless link between finance, service sector and WhitehallEmphasis on a particular kind of unofficial imperialism


'Informal empire'

Conclusion:Legacy of the 'classical' theoristsRobinson & Gallagher - challenge the classical theoriesCain & Hopkins - attempt to incorporate them into their argumentAre all these theories too mono-causal, simplistic, or Anglocentric?

From East India Company to the Raj: the transition from 'informal' to 'formal' empire Introduction:Some historians used to think that British rule in India exemplified all aspects of British imperialismRule over India had a decisive effect on British expansion o

Utilisation of the Indian army (sepoys)o

Expansion in order to protect rule of India-

E.g. Egypt & Sudan

E.g. Middle Eastern informal empire

Massive exploitation of 'coolies' throughout the empire for labour

The East India Company (Early):Founded on 31st December, 1600Single purpose of exploiting the spice trade in the East Indies218 London merchants combined their resources to form a private, state-backed enterprise o

State-backing provided a monopoly of English trade in Asia-

No domestic competition meant secure profits

Given the right to use fire power o

Significant because it gave the company the ability to protect itself independently of the crown and use force to its own benefitRisky venture - long shipping routes susceptible to piracy and diseaseCompetition from the Portuguese and the Dutch (Dutch East India Company, 1602) o

Trade rivalries were based on spices


Britain was forced to 'settle' for India which was relatively worthless in terms of spices-

The textile market eventually outgrew the spice market transforming the English East India Company into the dominant economic power in Asia

The Mughal Empire had authority over the Indian subcontinent by 1707 o

They divided power between individuals who controlled regions with somewhat autonomy


It was easier for the EIC to negotiate with individual princes than with one Mughal emperoro

Individuals with ambition could be used by the EIC to fragment the Emperors authority and promote their own

To be allowed to trade the EIC had to sign treaties to establish 'factories' on the subcontinentPresidencies for tiny areas allocated to the EIC: Surat - 1613; Madras - 1630; Bombay (Mumbai) - 1661; Calcutta (Kolkata) 1690

The EIC (18th century):Evolves from being the dominant economic power to being the dominant political/military power on the subcontinentPeripheral Factors: o

Continuous wars and instability throughout the peninsula

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