Unit 10: CHAPTER 24
Empire, Industry, and Everyday Life
I. The New Imperialism
A. Taming the Mediterranean
1. European Takeover in Egypt: Shaping the Egyptian
Economy — Imperialism surged in the last third of the
nineteenth century. In the Mediterranean region, efforts to
establish economic influence assumed a political dimension,
with Egypt as an early target. European investment in Egyptian
industry, agriculture, canals, and railroads produced enormous
debts. In 1879, the French and English took over the Egyptian
treasury, and Britain used the nationalist resistance that
ensued as an excuse to invade Egypt in 1882. Britain took
charge of the Egyptian government and reshaped the Egyptian
economy away from self-sufficiency and towards the provision
of raw materials.
• 2. Europe in Asia Minor and the Middle
East — To “protect” Algeria, France
occupied Tunisia in 1881, and cheap
European goods flooded markets in
Asia Minor and the Middle East, driving
local artisans into low wage
occupations. European employers
discriminated on the basis of ethnicity
and religion, paying Muslims less than
Christians and Arabs less than other
ethnic groups, and fostering long-lasting
I. The New Imperialism
B. The Scramble for Africa
1. Greed and Competition over Africa — Europeans were
increasingly interested in acquiring African raw materials and
ports to help expand trade globally. In the 1880s Britain, France,
Belgium, Germany, Portugal and Italy acquired one African
territory after another. Social Darwinism reshaped racism to justify
conquest of African lands.
2. Africa and Diplomatic Tensions — Conflict over the acquisition
and control of African territory escalated tensions in Europe. In
1884 and 1885 a series of conferences in Berlin led to
agreements that dissected the continent and limited trade in
alcohol and firearms. The agreement accelerated conquest and
associated violence.
• 3. Europeans in South Africa — In South Africa,
farmers of European descent (many of them Dutch,
known as Boers) and British immigrants struggled
with each other and native peoples over land and
resources such as diamonds. Notions of European
racial superiority became more widespread.
• 4. Consequences for Africans — The Berlin
agreements divided Africa into territories along
straight lines that cut across indigenous boundaries,
and European competition and influence destroyed or
transformed African political and economic systems.
African accomplishments and achievements were
ignored or discounted and Africans were thought to
be uncivilized, only capable of manual labor. Family
and community networks were weakened and
disrupted by new labor patterns, migrations, and
other economic changes that benefitted Europeans.
The Congo Free State
The Belgian Congo
King Leopold II:
(r. 1865 – 1909)
Harvesting Rubber
Punishing “Lazy” Workers
5-8 Million Victims!
(50% of Popul.)
It is blood-curdling to see them (the
soldiers) returning with the hands of
the slain, and to find the hands of
young children amongst the bigger
ones evidencing their bravery...The
rubber from this district has cost
hundreds of lives, and the scenes I
have witnessed, while unable to help
the oppressed, have been almost
enough to make me wish I were
dead... This rubber traffic is steeped
in blood, and if the natives were to
rise and sweep every white person on
the Upper Congo into eternity, there
would still be left a fearful balance to
their credit.
-- Belgian Official
Belgium’s Stranglehold on the Congo
I. The New Imperialism
C. Acquiring Territory in Asia
1. Britain in India and Malaysia — Much of Asia was also
integrated into western empires. India was the centerpiece of the
British Empire, but resistance from the Indian National Congress
(established in 1885 by elite educated Indians) increased as well.
Britain took over the Malay peninsula in 1874 and the interior of
Burma in 1885, seeking to secure natural resources and a trade
route into China.
2. Russian and French Imperial Activity — Russia and France also
expanded in Asia. The Russians penetrated Persia and China as
well as the Ottoman Empire and built the Trans-Siberian railroad,
which opened up Siberia large-scale settlement. Russian
expansion brought them into competition with Britain. France
threatened military action to establish control over Indochina in
I. The New Imperialism
D. Japan’s Imperial Agenda
1. Japanese Industrial Expansion — Japan transformed itself into an
industrial state with an imperial agenda by incorporating western ways
into native traditions. Japanese students brought back new knowledge
from the west, and Japan underwent a western-style modernization.
2. Modernization and Reform: The Meiji Regime in Japan — Under the
Meiji Restoration, the Japanese embraced foreign trade, imperialism,
and industry. The Japanese constitution, drafted in 1889, emphasized
state power over individual rights, and the Japanese adapted samurai
traditions in establishing a powerful modern military. Japan also adopted
the imperialist mentality of the West, and in the 1870s they used
western-built ships to acquire neighboring islands and intimidate their
Korean neighbors, imposing favorable trade agreements.
I. The New Imperialism
E. The Paradoxes of Imperialism
1. The Costs and Profits of Empire — Imperialism was a muchdebated topic. Meant to establish economic security, it
intensified political instability. For some sectors of the
economy, it was very profitable, and imperial industries
provided many jobs, although taxpayers had to provide for
larger armies and navies as well. The costs of empire were
high, despite promised profits, and some argued it cost
more than it was worth.
2. The Civilizing Mission — Many believed that Europeans had
a “civilizing mission” to bring their superior culture to the
rest of the world. Native peoples were forced to learn
European history and culture while their own was
neglected. The idea of this civilizing mission sometimes
conflicted with the violence used to establish and impose
imperial rule.
…also known as the White Man’s Burden
White Man’s Burden
By Rudyard Kipling (1899)
Take up the White Man's burden-Send forth the best ye breed-Go bind your sons to exile
To serve your captives' need;
To wait in heavy harness,
On fluttered folk and wild-Your new-caught, sullen peoples,
Half-devil and half-child.
Take up the White Man's burden-In patience to abide,
To veil the threat of terror
And check the show of pride;
By open speech and simple,
An hundred times made plain
To seek another's profit,
And work another's gain.
3. Inferiority and Superiority — Europeans studied colonial
cultures and gathered much scientific knowledge. In many
cases they misunderstood or misinterpreted native cultures and
considered European people and culture to be superior,
expecting native peoples to be grateful for what Europeans
brought them. Missionaries attempted and often succeeded in
spreading Christianity, but Christianizing entire peoples and
making them obedient often proved impossible, leading to
violence and repression. Some Europeans romanticized
colonized peoples, viewing them as “purer” or “simpler” than
Europeans, sometimes in condescending ways. European selfconfidence obscured many of these paradoxes, particularly the
paradox that western states focused on nation-building
destroyed the independence of so many.
1. How does the illustrator depict the African man in
this image?
2. How does this scene express British superiority?
II. The Industry of Empire
A. Industrial Innovation
1. The Spread of Factories and Innovations in Agriculture — Industrial,
technological, and commercial innovation strengthened nation states
and empires. In Britain a second stage of industrialization occurred
involving steel and other heavy industry, while in much of the rest of
Europe industrialization happened in one phase, with innovation and
heavy industry developing alongside domestic industrial work. Industrial
innovation changed agriculture, and industrial fertilizers, wire fencing,
and mechanized dairy farming along with refrigeration and canning all
changing the marketplace.
2. The Tools of Empire — Powerful guns, railroads, steamships and
medicine accelerated Western expansion into Asia and Africa. Drought
and famine also weakened Africa and Asia, leaving them vulnerable.
Breech-loading rifles and early machine guns dramatically increased
European firepower, and African resistance was swiftly crushed.
3. Challenges to British Dominance — Despite industrial
innovation, increasing trade, and profits from overseas
investments, Britain’s rate of industrial growth slowed.
Germany and the United States grew more quickly.
Investing heavily in research and education, the Germans
developed new industrial processes, while the United
States exploited vast natural resources. Other countries
trailed these leaders.
4. Areas of Slower Industrialization — French industry grew
steadily, although French businesses remained small. In
Austria and Italy, industrialization was a local phenomena.
Russian industrial progress remained torturously slow, but
the Russian government encouraged and attracted capital
and entrepreneurial talent to help build railroads. Workers
and peasants benefited little.
II. The Industry of Empire
B. Facing Economic Crisis
1. Economic Downturn — The 1870s and 80s were a period of
economic difficulty. Before 1850, economic crises had usually
been caused by an agricultural crisis, but in 1873 a crisis of
industry and finance developed on its own because entrepreneurs
were facing more and more obstacles.
2. New Challenges for Later Industrialization — The industrial
economy was vulnerable to depressions and economic weakness,
and economic uncertainty was a serious problem.
3. Capital-Intensive Industry — Newer factories required massive
amounts of capital, and start up costs escalated. In addition, the
distribution and consumption of goods were both inadequate to
sustain growth because workers were paid too little to consume
many industrial products. Slumps became common.
• 4. Limited-Liability Corporations — New laws spurred the
development of limited liability corporations designed to
protect investors from personal responsibility for debt.
This helped spur the development of stock markets and
encouraged investment. Money invested in stock markets
increased dramatically.
• 5. Cartels, Trusts, and the Challenges to Free Trade —
Businesses banded together in cartels and trusts. Cartels
were combinations of industries formed to control prices
and competition. Trusts, pioneered by John D.
Rockefeller in the United States in 1882, acquired shares
in a range of companies within an industry and controlled
the shares and their companies through trustees. Cartels
and trusts restricted the free market. Governments
increasingly imposed import taxes to protect domestic
industries, causing much of Europe except Belgium,
Britain and the Netherlands to abandon in the 70s and 80s
the free trade many had adopted in the 1850s.
II. The Industry of Empire
C. Revolution in Business Practices
1. The White-Collar Sector — Specialized managers increasingly ran
industrial operations. A service sector, made up of skilled workers,
emerged as part of the development of management. Armies of office
workers were needed, and women formed the bulk of service
employees. The cost of middle class life overcame the ideology of
domesticity, and married and unmarried women increasingly took jobs
outside the home. A gendered, dual labor market developed, with
female occupations receiving consistently lower wages.
2. The Department Store — From about mid-century the drive to boost
consumption led daring entrepreneurs to establish department stores, at
first in the largest cities. These replaced stores that sold single lines of
goods with modern shopping palaces that offered a glorious array of
goods designed to stimulate consumer desires. Department stores
became a public domain of women. Consumerism was also stimulated
by catalogues and the consumption of colonial products.
1. How does this work seem more “respectable” than factory work for
2. Why would these women have been paid less than their male
III. Imperial Society and Culture
A. The “Best Circles” and the Expanding Middle Class
1. The Expansion of the Upper Class — Profits from
industry and empire expanded the upper classes, or
“best circles” of society. Aristocrats increasingly
shared influence with the newly rich from the middle
class as the distinction between aristocrat and the
wealthiest bourgeois weakened. Social Darwinism
was often cited as a reason for their social position.
2. The Imperial Elite — Empire reshaped the way elites
spent their time. Travel and big-game hunting,
zoological collecting, and the establishment of
museums and traveling displays all flourished. People
in the best circles saw themselves as an imperial elite.
• 3. Women and the Social Elite — Women maintained the
standards of the social elite, particularly by preventing
girls’ sexual activity and relationships with the lower class.
Many marriages were arranged. Upper-class women
devoted themselves to raising children and directing staffs
of servants. Gardens furnishings and women’s clothing
reflected imperial power. By practicing art and music,
women offset the grim side of imperial and industrial
• 4. Growth and Change in the Middle Class — Middle class
circles, especially outside of eastern Europe, also
expanded. The lives of these businessmen and
professionals remained modest, but most households
employed at least one servant. In place of the
conspicuous consumption of the very rich, the middle
class proudly maintained a high level of cleanliness and
III. Imperial Society and Culture
B. Working People’s Strategies
1. Working People Leave Europe — Parts of Europe simply could not produce
enough or provide enough employment to support a growing population, so
many working people migrated in search of work, leaving their native lands
for many reasons. Migration was especially heavy out of Sicily, Sweden, and
Britain, especially Ireland. Many Jewish peasants also migrated out of
eastern Europe, fleeing horrifying pogroms. Destinations were determined
by commercial and imperial opportunities. Most went to North and South
America, as well as Australia and New Zealand. Railroads and steamships
aided population movement, and money sent home improved life. Emigrants
lived transformed lives with new languages and work habits. Many other
migrants, often seasonal, many of them women, moved from the European
countryside to cities, continuing the trend toward urbanization. The most
urbanized countries were Britain and Belgium.
2. Adaption to Industrial Change — Factory work became more fast-paced and
stressful. Work was more heavily supervised. Low-paid outwork also
continued in some industries. Hard times had uneven consequences.
Despite uncertainty, some workers prospered, particularly in urban areas.
III. Imperial Society and Culture
C. National Fitness: Reform, Sports, and Leisure
1. Reform for the Working Classes — Reformers interested in social
improvement and concerned about Social Darwinism emphasized
national fitness. Settlement houses, clinics, and health centers
appeared in urban areas. Middle and upper-class men and women
worked in urban areas to improve workers lives, involving themselves in
missionary work or scientific approaches to solving social problems.
Philanthropists and government officials intervened in the lives of
working-class families to improve fitness, with school lunches, clinics,
and inspections of children. Some distributed birth control information,
although this was opposed by churches and reformers concerned it
would encourage sexual exploitation of women. Women’s work lives
also came under closer control, as they were “protected” in some
places from certain professions. Working men and reformers
cooperated in criticizing women for taking jobs from men and not
producing enough healthy children.
2. Sports and Leisure — Sports teams began to develop
mass followings that welded lower and higher classes
together in a competitive culture. Sports were seen as a
sign of national strength and spirit. Team sports
sharpened differentiation between men and women, as
women were generally encouraged to engage in individual
sports. Middle class leisure activities such as mountain
climbing also became popular, along with working class
clubs for bicycling, touring and cycling. Healthy recreation
was promoted to give people a better sense of individual
might and national strength.
III. Imperial Society and Culture
D. Artistic Responses to Empire and Industry
1. The Arts and Social Anxiety — The arts were influenced by economic
innovation, as well as Darwin’s theory that strong civilizations that failed
to keep up with changing conditions would perish. Emile Zola’s dark
visions of social and family decay in industrializing France raised
questions about civilization. Other writers such as Emilia Pardo Bazan
and Olive Schreiner depicted a widespread deterioration of behavior in
urban and rural life, echoing the Social Darwinism in the air.
2. Countertrends in the Decorative Arts — Decorative arts offered a
countertrend to stark realism. Mass-produced textiles were used to
create traditional-looking costumes and invented customs based on a
mythical past. Folk motifs were copied by urban architects and industrial
designers, who were also influenced by imperial Persian and Indian
motifs in designs of fabric, wallpaper, and household goods, which
became simpler and less ornate.
3. Impressionism in Art — Painters were also influenced by
industrial developments. By the 1870s, in reaction to the
camera, painters such as Claude Monet used light, color,
and visible brushstrokes to move away from realism.
Painting in the style that came to be known as
impressionism, they challenged artistic norms with vibrant
colors and outrageous visual style. Along with the camera
new factory-generated pigments contributed to an artistic
rebellion. Global vision characterized much art, and
Japanese art clearly influenced impressionism. Westerners
borrowed styles from around the world, and American
expatriate artist Mary Cassatt and Vincent Van Gogh both
used Japanese images and motifs in their work.
IV. The Birth of Mass Politics
A. Workers, Politics, and Protest
1. Unions and Strikes — The growth of industry contributed to mass
politics by bringing together workers who increasingly put pressure
on the political and economic system. Unions attracted the
allegiance of millions of workers, demanding a say in working
conditions and wages. Businessmen and governments viewed
strikes as dangerous, although some industrialists saw the
advantage of unions because they presented worker’s demands
coherently. The pace of collective action accelerated from the
1880s, with strikes across Europe increasing more than 50 percent
between 1888 and 1890. Housewives often supported strikers or
engaged in collective action to sell confiscated goods at “fair”
prices, protect children needed for work from truant officers, or act
on behalf of evicted tenants. Governments increasingly called out
troops or police to deal with striking workers. New unions that
formed from the mid 80s were nationwide and planned general
strikes across a range of trades. Larger unions fought against
cartels, trusts, and governments.
2. Political Parties — Working class political parties
emerged out of unions, including the Labour Party in
England, the Socialist Party in France, and the Social
Democratic parties in Sweden, Hungary, Austria, and
Germany. Most were inspired by Marxist theories. An
international socialist movement also developed as
socialists in 1889 met to form the Second International,
replacing the First International that had been founded
by Marx after the Paris Commune. The Second
International advocated for suffrage, better working
conditions, and a Marxist revolutionary program. They
opposed random violence and rejected the anarchism that
was popular in less industrial parts of Europe. Women were
involved in unions, but less so than men, as they had little
time for meetings and were sometimes excluded by men.
Workers joined social societies and established festivals
and parades, which encouraged solidarity and physical
IV. The Birth of Mass Politics
B. Expanding Political Participation in Western Europe
1. Mass Journalism — In western Europe newspapers
allowed ordinary people to become more politically
aware. The will of the people became increasingly
important in politics. Industrial developments led to the
rise of mass journalism. Papers emphasized sensational
stories, particularly those involving murder or sexual
scandal. Journalism created a national community of upto-date citizens, a career path for up and comers in the
middle and working class, and wider participation in the
political process.
2. British Political Reforms — In England in 1879 William
Gladstone used mass meetings to encourage broad
participation in politics as he was elected Prime Minister. In
1872 a Ballot Act made voting secret and the Reform Act
of 1884 doubled the electorate. Both the Liberal and
Conservative parties established political clubs, which,
along with unions, increasingly influenced national politics.
An explosive political climate in Ireland and tensions
between landlords and tenants led to the establishment of
the National Land League. Irish tenants elected a solid
block of nationalist representatives to British Parliament
led by Charles Stewart Parnell (1846-1891), who
demanded a separate Irish parliament. Gladstone
accommodated Parnell with reforms but Conservatives
opposed home rule and cracked down on Irish activism.
The exposure of his affair with a married woman in 1890
ended Parnell’s political career, as cultural values and the
media determined politics.
IV. The Birth of Mass Politics
B. Expanding Political Participation in Western Europe
3. France’s Third Republic — In France, defeat at the hands of
Prussia led to the establishment of the Third Republic in 1871. Dogged
by efforts of royalists to reassert power, economic downturns,
widespread corruption and growing anti-Semitism, the Third Republic
was unstable. An attempted coup by popular general George
Boulanger showed the government’s weakness. Leaders tried to
strengthen loyalty to the state by instituting secular public schools, and
mandating military service.
4. Political Liberalism Rejected — Although many western European
leaders believed in economic liberalism, some states did not grant full
political rights or establish republics. In Spain, the catholic Church and
conservative landlords dominated, and Denmark and Sweden both had
limited political participation. In Italy the vote was given to all men with
primary school education, but many remained discontented, and
southern Italians in particular felt less loyalty to the new nation,
resenting taxes and the national draft.
IV. The Birth of Mass Politics
C. Power Politics in Central and Eastern Europe
1. Bismarck’s Germany — Bismarck’s powerful, united
Germany upset the European balance of power.
Bismarck sought to encourage political stability and
forged the Three Emperors League with AustriaHungary and Russia. He worked with German liberals
to establish financial institutions and a central bank.
He attacked socialists, banning the Social Democratic
Party in 1878 and sponsoring benefits for workers. He
established tariffs in 1879 to protect German industry
and agriculture, strengthening German conservatism.
2. Authoritarian Austria-Hungary — In Austria-Hungary, the
liberals held power for a time in the 1870s, and the government
enacted free-trade provisions, but the country remained
monarchist and authoritarian. Despite some concessions, AustriaHungary was increasingly threatened by Slavic nationalism. In
1876 Slavs in Bulgaria and Bosnia-Herzegovina rebelled against
Ottoman control. They were aided by Pan Slavic organizations
and Russia, who declared war on Turkey in 1877. In 1878 a large
pro-Russian Bulgaria was created by the Treaty of San Stefano,
nearly generating a war as Austria-Hungary and Britain feared an
enlarged Bulgaria and Russian expansion. An international
congress held in Berlin staved off the threat of war, and rolled
back the Russian victory by partitioning Bulgaria, but the Balkans
remained in a state of political unrest. In 1882 Austria-Hungary
and Germany formed a Dual Alliance for protection against
Russia, they were later joined by Italy. A Reinsurance Treaty
between Russia and Germany in 1887 was designed to prevent
war in the region.
3. Unrest in Russia — Diplomatic setbacks and domestic
problems beset Russia in the 70s and 80s. Denied a
constitutional government, young Russians often turned to
revolutionary groups, and the secret police arrested many.
Russian novelists such as Leo Tolstoy, with his epic War
and Peace (1869) and Fyodor Dostoevsky, who satirized
radicals in The Possessed (1871) added to the debate about
Russia’s future. In 1881 a radical group assassinated Tsar
Alexander II with a bomb, but failed to provoke a general
uprising. Alexander III (1881-1894) unleashed new
oppression, giving the police unlimited powers. Russian
Jews and ethnic minorities were portrayed as a threat to
Russian civilization, and Jews endured particularly harsh
treatment. The dismissal of Bismarck in 1890 by the brash
new German king, William II (r. 1888-1918) led to
Germany’s rejection of the Reinsurance Treaty, which further
destabilized the diplomatic scene.
1. How is the appearance of these men distinctive, and why is this
2. Why would Russians have blamed Jews—isolated in ghettos—for
their multitudes of problems?

America: A Concise History