Theme: How imperialistic nations were
able to expand their power and control at
the expense of weaker nations
Lesson 13
• Imperialism is a term associated with the
expansion of the European powers, and later the
US and Japan, and their conquest and
colonization of African and Asian societies,
mainly from the 16th through the 19th Centuries
• Was effected not just through the force of arms,
but also through trade, investment, and business
activities that enabled the imperial powers to
profit from subject societies and influence their
affairs without going to the trouble of exercising
direct political control
• Many Europeans came to believe that
imperial expansion and colonial
domination were crucial for the survival of
their states and societies
• Motivations can be grouped as economic,
political, and cultural
Economic Motives
• Overseas colonies could
serve as reliable sources
of raw materials not
available in Europe that
came in demand
because of
– Rubber in the Congo River
basin and Malaya
– Tin in southeast Asia
– Copper in central Africa
– Oil in southwest Asia
Rubber trees in Malaya
Cecil Rhodes
• Went to south Africa in 1871
and by 1889 he controlled
90% of the world’s diamond
• Also gained a healthy stake
in the gold market
• Served as prime minister of
the British Cape Colony
from 1890-1896 and saw the
Cape Colony as a base of
operations for the extension
of British control to all of
Political Motives
• Some overseas colonies
occupied strategic sites
on the world’s sea lanes
• Others offered harbors or
supply stations for
commercial and naval
• Foreign imperialist
ventures were useful in
defusing social tensions
and inspiring patriotism at
home, often between
industrialists and
Russians in Tashkent
• The weakening of the Ottoman and Qing empires turned
central Asia into a political vacuum and invited Russian
• In 1865 Russian forces captured Tashkent which served
as an important location for trade between Central Asia
and Russia, especially after the construction of the
Trans-Caspian Railroad in 1898
• As Russia encroached upon the ill-defined northern
frontier of British India, Russians and British played out
the “Great Game” of exploration, espionage and
imperialistic diplomacy throughout Central Asia
Cultural Justifications
• Christian missionaries saw Africa and Asia as
fertile ground for converts and often served as
intermediaries between imperialists and subject
• Other Europeans sought to bring “civilization” to
subject peoples in the form of political order and
social stability
• Cecil Rhodes believed, “We (the British) are the
finest race in the world and the more of the world
we inhabit, the better it is for the human race.”
The White Man’s Burden
Take up the White Man’s
Send forth the best ye
Go bind your sons to exile
To serve your captives’
To wait in heavy harness,
On fluttered folk and
Your new-caught, sullen
Half-devil and half-child.
Rudyard Kipling
David Livingstone
• Went to Africa as a
missionary but was a
combination of
missionary, doctor,
explorer, scientist and
anti-slavery activist.
• Reached and named
Victoria Falls in 1855.
• In 1871 journalist Henry
Stanley found him at
Lake Tanganyika,
greeting him with the
famous words “Dr.
Livingstone, I presume?”
Technologies that made
Imperialism Possible
• Transportation
• Military
• Communications
Cartoon showing China
being divided by the
United Kingdom,
Germany, Russia,
France, and Japan
Transportation Technologies
Monocacy was
used to protect US
interests along the
Yangtze River in
• Steamships allowed imperial powers to travel
upriver much further than sailboats so
imperialists could project power deep into the
interior regions of foreign lands
Transportation Technologies
• The construction of new canals enhanced
the effectiveness of steamships and the
building of empires by enabling naval
vessels to travel rapidly between the
world’s seas and oceans
• They lowered the costs of trade between
imperial powers and subject lands
Suez Canal
• Between 1859 and 1869,
the British constructed the
Suez Canal which links
Port Said on the
Mediterranean Sea and
Suez on the Red Sea
• Allows two-way north-south
water transport from
Europe to Asia without
circumnavigating Africa
• In 1882 the British army
occupied Egypt to ensure
the safety of the canal
which was crucial to British
communications with India
1869 opening of the Suez
Canal at Port Said
Panama Canal
• Between 1904
and 1914, the
US built the
Panama Canal
which links the
Atlantic and
Pacific Oceans
without having
to transit Cape
Gatun locks under construction in 1910
Military Technologies
• Breech-loading
firearms with rifled
bores provided
European armies
with an arsenal
vastly stronger than
any other in the
• European armies
could impose
colonial rule almost
at will
British soldiers show a Maxim gun
to an elderly Zulu chief in 1901
Communications Technologies
• Oceangoing steamships
reduced the time required for
imperial capitals to deliver
messages to colonial lands
• In the 1850s engineers began
developing submarine
telegraph cables to carry
messages through oceans
• By 1902, cables linked all parts
of the British Empire
throughout the world
Insignia of the British
Indian Submarine
Telegraph Company
British Empire in India
• In the 18th and first half of
the 19th Century, the East
India Company
established a strong
presence in India
– (Remember the East India
Company was one of the
joint-stock companies we
learned about in Lesson 3)
• In 1858, the British
government intervened,
preempting the East India
Company and
establishing direct
imperial rule in India
In 1857 Hindu sepoys
mutinied against the East
India Company
British Empire in India
• A viceroy represented British
royal authority in India and
administered the colony
through an elite Indian civil
service staffed almost
exclusively by the British
– The British formulated all
domestic and foreign policy
for India
• Indians served in low-level
bureaucratic positions
Lord John Morley served
as Secretary of State for
India from 1905 to 1910
British Empire in India
• The British transformed India
by clearing forests,
restructuring landholdings,
building railroad and telegraph
networks, encouraging the
cultivation of valuable crops,
and constructing canals,
harbors, and irrigation
• Established English-style
schools for Indian children
and suppressed Indian
customs that conflicted with
British values
The British forced the Indians to
ban sati, the practice of burning
widows on their husbands’
funeral pyres
British in Burma
• In the early 1820s, British
colonial officials in India
had conflicts with the
kings of Burma (modern
Myanmar) while seeking
to expand their influence
to the Irrawaddy River
• By the 1880s, the British
had established colonial
authority in Burma
• Burma provided teak,
ivory, rubies, and jade
1905 watercolor painting of a
temple scene in Burma
British in Singapore
• In 1824, Thomas Stamford Raffles founded the
port of Singapore, which soon became the
busiest center of trade in the Strait of Melaka
Singapore Harbor
British in Singapore
• Singapore was
administered by the
colonial regime in
• It served as the base
for the British
conquest of Malaya
(modern Malaysia) in
the 1870s and 1880s
British in Malaya
• Malaya provided
outstanding ports
that enabled the
British navy to
control sea lanes
linking the Indian
Ocean with the
South China Sea
ands also provided
abundant supplies
of tin and rubber
Planter supervising workers on a
Malayan rubber plantation
French in Indochina
• The French were unsuccessful in
establishing themselves in India, but
between 1859 and 1893, they did
establish a large southeast Asian colony
consisting of the modern states of
Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos
• Indochina would become an important
supplier of rubber
French in Indochina
• Unlike the British in their
colonies, the French
encouraged conversion to
Christianity and the
Roman Catholic Church
became prominent
throughout Indochina,
especially in Vietnam
• We’ll talk more about this
in Lesson 25
• Until 1875, Europeans
maintained a limited
presence in Africa
• Around then, the
adventures and reports of
explorers such as David
Livingstone, Henry
Stanley, Richard Burton,
and John Speke began to
excite merchants about
business possibilities in
Richard Burton explored
east Africa with John
Speke, seeking the source
of the Nile
Africa: the Congo
• In the 1870s King Leopold II of
Belgium employed Henry
Stanley to help develop
commercial ventures and
establish a colony called
Congo Free State in the basin
of the Congo River
• Leopold said the Congo Free
State would be a free-trade
zone open to all European
merchants in order to forestall
competition from his more
powerful European neighbors
Leopold II
Africa: the Congo
• In reality, Leopold ran
the Congo Free State
as a personal colony
and filled it with
lucrative rubber
plantations run under
brutal conditions
– Humanitarians
protested Leopold’s
colonial regime
• In 1908 the Belgium
government took
control of the colony
and it became known
as Belgian Congo
Clearing tropical forests ate away
at Leopold’s profit margins so
Congolese farming villages such
as this one were leveled to make
way for rubber tree plantations
Africa: South Africa
• The Dutch East India Company had established
a supply station at Cape Town in 1652 and
settlers began expanding outward to take up
ranching and farming
• These settlers were called “Boers” (the Dutch
word for farmer) or “Afrikaners” (the Dutch word
for African)
• During the Napoleonic Wars (1799-1815), the
British took over the Cape and established
British rule in 1806
Africa: South Africa
• British rule disrupted Boer
society because it brought
in English law and language
• When Britain abolished
slavery in 1833, Boer
financial viability and
lifestyles were further
• Chafing under British rules
the Boer began migrating
eastward where they
established several
independent colonies such
as the Orange Free State
(1854) and the South
African Republic or
Transvaal territories (1860)
Africa: South Africa
• The lenient British attitude
toward this changed when
diamonds were discovered on
Boer-populated territories in
1867 and gold in 1886
• Two “Boer Wars” were fought
from 1880-1881 and 18991902 with the British winning
and putting an end to the Boer
independent republics
• By 1910, Britain had
consolidated the provinces into
the Union of South Africa
Boer guerrillas during
the Second Boer War
Africa: Berlin Conference
• Tensions among the European powers seeking
African colonies led to the Berlin West Africa
Conference (1884-1885), during which
delegates from 14 European states and the US
(no Africans were present) devised the rules for
the colonization of Africa
• The conference produced an agreement that
any European state could establish African
colonies after notifying the others of its intentions
and occupying previously unclaimed territory
Africa: Berlin Conference
• The Berlin Conference gave European
diplomats the justification they needed to draw
lines on maps and carve Africa into colonies
• By the turn of the century, all of Africa was
divided into European colonies except for
Ethiopia, where native forces had fought off
Italian efforts at colonization, and Liberia, a small
republic populated by freed slaves that was
effectively a dependency of the US
Colonial Rule
• Three types
– Concessionary companies
– Direct rule
– Indirect rule
Concessionary Companies
• This was the earliest approach to colonial rule
• European governments granted private companies large
concessions of territory and empowered them to
undertake economic activities such as mining, plantation
agriculture, or railroad construction
Stamps issued by the Mozambique Company which received a 50year administrative charter from Portugal in 1891
Concessionary Companies
• This system allowed
governments to
colonize and exploit
immense territories
with only a modest
investment, but the
brutal practices of the
private companies
produced a public
outcry and the
imperial countries
decided to establish
their own rule
The Imperial British East Africa
Company began work on the
Uganda Railway in 1896. 2,500
workers died during the
Direct Rule
• The concessionary
companies gave way to
direct or indirect imperial
• Under direct rule,
administrative districts
headed by European
personnel collected
taxes, recruited labor and
soldiers, and maintained
law and order
• Direct rule was typical of
the French colonies
French colonial administrator
Louis Léon César Faidherbe
served as governor of Senegal
from 1854 to 1861 and from 1863
to 1865. He transformed the
colony into the dominant political
and military power in West Africa.
Direct Rule
• Administrative boundaries intentionally cut
across existing African political and ethnic
boundaries in order to divide and weaken
potentially powerful indigenous groups
• Direct rule aimed at removing strong kings and
other leaders and replacing them with more
malleable people
• The underlying principle was to keep African
populations in check and permit European
administrators to engage in a “civilizing mission”
Indirect Rule
• Indirect rule exercised control over subject
populations through indigenous institutions
such as existing “tribal” authorities and
“customary laws”
• Indirect rule work in places where Africans
had already established strong and highly
organized states, but elsewhere erroneous
assumptions about the “tribal” nature of
African societies caused problems
Later Problems
• The invention of rigid tribal categories and the
establishment of artificial tribal boundaries
became one of the greatest obstacles to nation
building and regional stability in much of Africa
during the second half of the 20th Century
• The arbitrary boundaries of the Berlin
Conference did not take into consideration the
natural divisions of the African people (religion,
culture, language, ethnicity, etc)
Later Impacts
• When decolonization began in the 1950s,
loyalties to these natural groups were often
stronger than those to the arbitrarily-created
state, leading to civil unrest in many countries
• After independence, the dominant nationalist
movements and their leaders tended to install
themselves in virtually permanent power and
tried to establish single-party states
US in Latin America
• In 1823 President James Monroe issued the
Monroe Doctrine that warned European states
against imperialist designs in the western
– Any European attempt to reassert control over former
colonies or to establish new ones would be
considered as a threat against the US and an act of
• The Monroe Doctrine served as a justification for
US intervention in hemispheric affairs
Roosevelt Corollary to the Monroe
• In 1904 the government of the
Dominican Republic went
• President Theodore Roosevelt
feared that Germany and other
nations might intervene forcibly
to collect their debts
• Roosevelt asserted that “in the
Western Hemisphere the
adherence of the United States
to the Monroe Doctrine may
force the United States,
however reluctantly, in flagrant
cases of such wrongdoing or
impotence, to the exercise of an
international police power....”
Cartoon portraying Roosevelt
as an international policeman
wielding his “big stick”
Early 20th Century US Interventions
in Latin America
• Cuba
• Dominican Republic
• Nicaragua
• Honduras
• Haiti
US: Alaska and Hawaii
• In 1867 the US purchased
Alaska from Russia
• In 1875 the US claimed a
protectorate over Hawaii,
where US entrepreneurs had
established highly productive
sugarcane plantations
• In 1893 a group of
businessmen and planters
overthrew Queen Liliuokalani
and invited the US to annex
• Hawaii became a US
possession in 1898
Queen Liliuokalani
US: Spanish-American War
• The US had large
business interests in
Puerto Rico and Cuba,
the last remnant’s of
Spain’s American empire
• In 1898 the US battleship
Maine exploded and sank
in Havana harbor
• US leaders suspected
sabotage and declared
war on Spain
US: Spanish-American War
• The US easily defeated
Spain and took
possession of Puerto
Rico and Cuba
• In the Pacific, the US
took possession of the
Philippines and Guam
• After the SpanishAmerican War the US
emerged as a major
imperial and colonial
Commodore Dewey destroyed
the Spanish fleet in a single
day at the Battle of Manila.
Puerto Rico and Cuba Today
• Today Puerto Rico is a
associated with the US
• In 1917, Puerto Ricans
were granted US
• In plebiscites held in
1967, 1993, and 1998,
voters chose to retain
commonwealth status
Puerto Rico and Cuba Today
• The Spanish-American War’s Treaty of Paris
established Cuban independence, which was granted
in 1902 after a three-year transition period
• In 1959, Fidel Castro established a communist
government in Cuba
• However based on a series of agreements beginning
in1903, the US has been able to lease Guantanamo
Bay for $4,085 a year
Philippines and Guam Today
• The Philippines were ceded to
the US in 1898
• In 1935 the Philippines
became a self-governing
commonwealth with
independence to be gained
after a 10-year transition.
• In 1942, the Japanese
occupied the Philippines
– We’ll talk about this in
Lesson 21
• In 1946 the Philippines
became independent
• In 1992, the US closed its last
military bases on the islands
Clark Air Force Base was
once the largest
overseas U.S. military
base in the world
Philippines and Guam Today
• Guam was ceded to the
US by Spain in 1898 and
remains an organized,
unincorporated territory of
the US
• It was captured by the
Japanese in 1941 and
retaken by the US three
years later
– We’ll talk about this in
Lesson 21
• Guam continues to host
important US naval and
air force bases
US: Panama
• In 1903 the US supported a rebellion against Colombia and helped
rebels establish a breakaway state of Panama
• In exchange for the support the US won the right to build a canal
across Panama and control the adjacent territory known as the
Panama Canal Zone
• The Canal opened in 1914
US: Panama
• The Torrijos-Carter
Treaties in 1977
caused the Canal
Zone to cease to exist
in 1979 and the US to
relinquish control of
the Canal on Dec 31,
• The US conducted
Operation Just Cause
in 1989-1990 to
capture Panamanian
dictator Manuel
Canal Zone Governor’s House
Imperial Japan
• Review from Lesson 11
– In 1894 the Sino-Japanese War broke out
over control of Korea
– The Japanese navy quickly gained control of
the Yellow Sea and then the Japanese army
pushed Chinese forces off the Korean
– In the peace treaty, China recognized Korean
independence which made Korea a virtual
dependency of Japan
Imperial Japan
• Review from Lesson 11
– The Japanese victory alarmed European
powers, especially Russia, who shared
interests with Japan in Korea and Manchuria
– The Russo-Japanese War broke out in 1904
with Japan emerging victorious and gaining
recognition as a major imperial power
Imperial Japan
• Britain and the US began to see Japan as a threat to
their naval dominance
• In 1922 The Five-Power Naval Limitation Treaty
establish a ratio of capital ships as
Britain 5
United States 5
Japan 3
France 1.67
Italy 1.67
• In the 1930s, an increasingly militant Japan demanded
parity with the U.S. and Britain.
• When the request was denied, Japan gave notice in
1934 that it would withdraw from the treaty in two years
and did so
Imperial Japan
• Japan continued to see
the US and others as a
threat to its influence in
Asia and in 1940 the
Japanese began
developing plans to
destroy the US Navy in
• On Dec 7, 1941, the
Japanese attacked
Pearl Harbor
– We’ll discuss this in
Lesson 18
In May 1940, the main part of the
US fleet was transferred to Pearl
Harbor from the west coast
• Debate: “Defense of Imperialism”

Imperialism - The University of Southern Mississippi