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Reasons For Imperialism Essay

Motives for Imperialism



Five Motives for Imperialism

Various motives prompt empires to seek to expand their rule over other countries or territories. These include economic, exploratory, ethnocentric, political, and religious motives.

Economic: Imperial governments, and/or private companies under those governments, sought ways to maximize profits. Economic expansion demanded cheap labor, access to or control of markets to sell or buy products, and natural resources such as precious metals and land; governments have met these demands by hook (tribute) or by crook (plunder). After the advent of the Industrial Revolution, dependent colonies often provided to European factories and markets the raw materials they needed to manufacture products. Imperial merchants often established trading posts and warehouses, created transportation infrastructure, and sought control over strategic choke points, such as the Suez Canal in Egypt (which allows boats to cut thousands of miles of travel time between Asia and Europe). Imperial powers often competed with each over for the best potential resources, markets, and trade.

Exploratory: Imperial nations or their citizens wanted to explore territory that was, to them, unknown. Sometimes they did this for the purpose of medical or scientific research. At other times, they did it for the sense of adventure. Invariably, imperial explorers sought to discover, map, and claim territory before their imperial competition did, partly for national and personal glory and partly to serve the imperialist goal of expansion.

Ethnocentric: Imperial nations sometimes believed that their cultural values or beliefs were superior to other nations or groups. Imperial conquest, they believed, would bring successful culture to inferior people. In the late 19th century, for example, European powers clung to the racist belief that inferior races should be conquered in order to “civilize” them. The Europeans acted on their ethnocentrism, the belief that one race or nation is superior to others.

Political: Patriotism and growing imperial power spurred countries to compete with others for supremacy. It’s a matter of national pride, prestige and security. Empires sought strategic territory to ensure access for their navies and armies around the world. The empire must be defended and, better yet, expanded. Political motives were often triggered as responses to perceived threats to the security or prestige of the imperial power or its citizens abroad.

Religious: During imperial expansion, religious people sometimes set out to convert new members of their religion and, thus, their empire. Christian missionaries from Europe, for example, established churches in conquered territories during the nineteenth century. In doing so, they also spread Western cultural values. Typically, missionaries spread the imperial nation’s language through educational and religious interactions, although some missionaries helped to preserve indigenous languages. British missionaries led the charge to stop the slave trade in the nineteenth century, while others, such as French missionaries in Vietnam during the same time period, clamored for their country to take over a nation.

Primary Source Images

Directions: Examine this gallery of twelve primary source images of maps, advertisements, sketches, and photographs. Which imperial motives do you see represented in each image? Which motive is represented most often in these images? Why might that motive be represented more often?




Discuss The Political, Social And/Or Economic Causes Of British Imperialism And Discuss The Positive Effects And The Negative Effects Of British Colonial Rule

Throughout history, countries have expanded their empires to create the largest and most powerful on the globe. Napoleon and Alexander the Great had two of the most controlling empires ever created, and Great Britain's in the early 1800's was another of the best. During this time, many empires started expanding to make greater and more commanding kingdoms. Great Britain greatly grew in the 19th century. India, Asia and parts of Africa joined with them to help expand their territory. Britain used an imperialistic government, which was made to take over other areas of the world to gain power to add to their own empire. There were many different causes to British imperialism, some being political, social or economic. In addition, some of the British conquests were beneficial, yet some were not and left harmful impressions on the dominated areas.

Great Britain expanded their empire for many reasons. Mainly, their imperialistic motive was economic. The English exported goods to India mainly so they could gain money for themselves. They primarily sold cotton, oil, yarn, Iron, steel, tools, machinery and locomotives. The British took advantage of the demand for raw materials in the world, and gained money off the market. In addition, the British took advantage of the longing for raw materials and tea. Africa had multiple gold fields and Britain saw the need to take over the land in order to improve their business. Britain also took over India, and it didn't take long for the Indians to realize they were being taken over for money. Gaining Africa and India resulted in an expansion of the British Empire. The British also chose the right time to create this large empire, making tons of profits. At the time, labor was very cheap and there were many markets growing in the colonies across the globe.

Great Britain also had a humanitarian goal in mind when they were developing their large empire. When the British went into India and Africa, they had an intention to improve the living conditions of the two areas. They industrialized India, resulting in improved sanitation, a higher standard of living, irrigation, canalization and developed transport. The Indians were very grateful for all that Britain did for them because they got rid of famine, weakened the death rate and suppressed war, three things India had had much trouble with in the past. They also wanted to stop slavery and spread their ideas throughout the world. They used missionaries to convert as many as possible to Christianity, and it succeeded with the Africans. The Malay states had lots of trouble in the early 1700s, and they needed a good deal of help. They asked the British to come help them organize their...

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