Essay for Exam Chapter 20
Imperialism of free trade in the 19th century was spearheaded by the European powers as a three layered process that involved refinement and careful consideration of local reactions. The ultimate aim for the European powers was to gain holdings of raw materials that were otherwise expensively traded. Although the Europeans met with losses in the previous century in losing control of North America with the success of the American War for Independence and by the inability to expand in the Americas due to the Monroe Doctrine in 1823, there were newer frontiers in East that could still be exploited. The colonialists learned from their lessons in the Americas on how to successfully establish and control territories abroad.
They set out to accomplish this by three waves. The first wave was conquest. The availability of advanced weaponry enabled the colonial powers to gain significant portions of territories from native occupants whose weapons were inferior. The social aim was to allow the mixture of a neutral breed of the population that allowed the emergence of the neo-Europeans. This wave had repercussions such as the Mysore Revolt during 1767 – 1799. The second wave was an attempt to impose the European culture on the native populations in an attempt to adopt them as low-level subjects. The aim was to create societal structures that emulate European cultures and let go of their local inhibitions. The second wave crept into the far reaches of Asia and Africa. The British East India Company (BEIC) set up headquarters in Bengal to initially supervise trade. However, this was a pretext develop political connections and to explore the possibility of annexing the entire sub-continent. India was at the time rich in materials and a chief supplier of soldiers for the BEIC.
This era also saw the opium wars with China and subsequent extraterritoriality treaties, the sepoy mutiny in India that shocked the colonialists, the first Boer War, the treaty on Nanjing and the emergence of scrambling for Africa through the Berlin West Africa Conference.
The third wave was inclined towards the introduction of Christianity and the attempt to absolve the local religions along with their tenets. This wave also focused on retaining control of the colonies and suppressing any form of revolt with any means necessary. This wave was possibly the bloodiest for the native populations. The colonial powers with advanced machine guns saw native African armies plummet to small bands of European forces. This wave was enforced by the publishing of the exploits of explorers such as Livingstone and Stanley.
This wave was a witness to several genocidal wars such as the Maji Maji campaign, King Leopold of Belgium’s exploitation of Congo, Germany’s brutal war against Herero, the second Boer War and the Egyptian conflict. The Europeans were as always concerned only with their economic interests and never bothered to behave like rulers. This resulted in wide scale resistances appearing all over the colonies including the Boxer Rebellion in China. Little did the colonial powers realize that their holding would eventually lead to war on their home turf in the form of World War I (Singleton-Gates and Girodias, “The Black Diaries: An Account of Roger Casement’s Life and Times with a Collection of His Diaries and Public Writings”).
Singleton-Gates, Peter and Girodias, Maurice. The Black Diaries: An Account of Roger Casement’s Life and Times with a Collection of His Diaries and Public Writings. New York: Grove Press. 1959. Print.