Imperialism in the 19th Century
Economic and Political Causes and Consequences of the Nineteenth-Century Scramble for Colonies
During the period of the European Imperialism in the nineteenth century, Native Americans had to encounter military, political, and economic pressure from various European economies. When they abolished slavery, the Europeans had to end slave trade in Africa and started exploring new promising markets and profitable investments. Additionally, European economies experienced the industrial revolution that caused the increased demand for raw materials. They were under the threat of power struggles with one another and competition for political influence in Africa. These encounters resulted in the so-called “Scramble for Africa”. Hence, the growing wealth of the British Empire and European countries along with the rise of industrial revolution gave more opportunities for exercising power indirectly to the world’s financial and economic networks to enhance their position. The leading economic causes of the scramble included capitalism, technological advancement, the end of slavery, and the development of trade, whereas the political reasons concerned the need for enhancing social welfare and providing employment opportunities for Europeans.
The industrial revolution was the leading cause of the scramble for colonies. The emergence of new inventions made Europeans more economically powerful to integrate into new territories. Africa was among the most beneficial targets as their technological capacity allowed them to become effective in clamoring for new resources, inflicting terror and expanding to new countries of weaker economic development. Modern technological tools and capabilities contributed to exploration. For instance, in 1840, the first British ocean-going iron warship arrived at Macao and changed the status of international relations between Europe and the rest of the world (Michalopoulos & Papaionnaou, 2016). It could also navigate different territories and rivers, allowing discovering new territories and colonies. Apart from technological advancement, capitalism movement was on the rise. The abolition of slavery in 1860s caused the need for commerce between Africa and Europe. As a result, capitalists were searching for new ways of exploiting African continent (Michalopoulos & Papaionnaou, 2016). Explorers also plotted new trade routes and established plantations for producing sugar, coffee, palm oil and other products for Europe. As a consequence of technological and economic breakdown, Britain established Freetown in Sierra Leone, a group of forts along Southern Africa, embracing Cape Colony, Natal, and the Transvaal that had been annexed in 1877 (Michalopoulos & Papaionnaou, 2016). Hence, different European economies split the territory.
The political reasons for colonial development and the scramble for African territories involved some social problems in Europe. The industrialization process contributed to poverty, social displacement and unemployment. Therefore, Europe saw colonization of Africa as a possibility to gain additional labor force for enhancing their capitalistic society and production process. Inter-empire conflicts and activities created colonial empires located abroad. Burbank and Cooper (2011) assume, “Europe’s nineteenth century began with Napoleon’s attempt to dominate it and ended with a scramble among European empires for territories…that had not been yet incorporated by rivals” (p. 289). Because of the scramble, the nineteenth century’s colonization embodied a wave of proactive claims to regions that claimants failed to either unite or exploit.
In conclusion, the economic causes of the scramble of Africa included end of slavery and the need for establishing trade relationship, whereas political causes involved the industrialization process, which required gaining new labor forces for the development of European capitalist industry. As a result, the European countries started their exploration of Africa in search of new trade routes and colonies for organizing plantations and producing raw materials for their industrialized societies.
Empires’ Attempts at Modernization, Comparing Russia to the Ottomans to the Austro-Hungarian Empire
In the course of history, the leading empires had been fighting for supremacy in the world, but their attempts at modernization differed in terms of methods, periods, and stages of accomplishment. Some of them were successful as in the case of the Russian Empire, and the other two – referring to the Ottomans and Austro-Hungarian Empire – collapsed because of the lack of flexibility to the external economic circumstances.
To sustain rivalry, Russia took steps toward modernization, including the introduction of transportation systems and the industrial revolution. The emergence of the advanced transportation system allowed the Russian Empire to favor effective communication networks and enhance interaction among its colonies. Furthermore, industrial development enhanced Russia’s Army, which allowed it to expand its territories in the southern and eastern parts. Industrialization also contributed to the spread of the Marxism ideology and the rise of the Russian revolutionary movement at the threshold of the twentieth century.
Although the nature and life cycle of empires have much in common, there are still differences in terms of their development and modernization. The latter is associated with revolutionary processes, reforms, and war. There has been an evident rise of modernization in the first half of the nineteenth century when the Ottoman Empire had to introduce a military reform, provide suzerainty to some of the regions, and announce war to some of them to establish its power and control. Tanzimat was one of the salient periods of reforms from 1839 until 1876 that was marked by consolidating the political foundation of the Ottoman Empire (Burbank & Cooper, 2011). Different efforts to modernize the Empire and protect its territorial sovereignty against the external aggressive invasions and nationalist movements feature it. In contrast, Austro-Hungarian Empire’s attempt at modernization was not successful. In the middle of the nineteenth century, Hungary was a subjected territory. Emperor Francis Joseph and his subordinates were striving to centralize the state and introduce German language and culture. The defeat of Prussia made Austria compromise and agree on a dual monarchy. As a result, the Empire split into two economies joined by common ministries of defense, finance, and foreign affairs.
While comparing the attempts of modernization of all the three Empires under analysis, we should pay attention to their ability to adjust to change and develop new reforms and economic shifts to handle the political environment. In this respect, the major issue for the Ottoman Empire was its relationship with Austria and other European forces in the nineteenth century. Before, the European states had been concerned with the threat of the Ottoman expansion. However, the modernization concern related to the consequences of the Ottomans’ withdrawal from the Balkans in case of its total collapse. Further, Russia strived to annex the Slavic territories, whereas Austria was at a loss because it had a partnership relationship with the Ottoman Empire. Nonetheless, it was reluctant to break from the Ottomans because it was not beneficial for its development.
In conclusion, we can be stress that the Russian Empire was among the most progressive and flexible ones, because of its monopolistic policies and economic development. Instead, Austria and the Ottoman Empire were less adaptable and failed to take into consideration the external factors affecting their advancement and modernization.
Development of the United States of America in the 18th-19th Centuries an Imperial and Imperialist Adventure
The word “empire” can be associated with the images of the well-known British Empire, Persian Empire or Rome. These powers relied significantly on colonization, military conquest, occupation, colonization, and resource exploration. The United States only managed to gain its independence from the British Empire centuries after its emergence. The issue of American imperialism and imperial adventure can be understood in the sense of their engagement with the wider world commercial trade with other countries, which asserted America abroad as a separate economy and political and cultural power that has shaped the new nation.
American interventions in China, Mexico and Middle East that reflected the eagerness of the nation to participate in foreign economies for protecting its own economic interest abroad reveal the features of a being an empire. Thus, in 1784, American ships were travelling to China for establishing Asian trade routes that are comparatively small (Richter, 2016). The United States was ready to engage in foreign affairs to preserve its foreign markets, as well as to take control of the new territories (Richter, 2016). As a result, the country gained its Pacific territories in accordance with the Guano Island Act in 1856 (Richter, 2016). The Act encouraged Americans to claim islands and venture into the seas.
American capitalists invested heavily into the development of Mexico to support their political and economic dominance in the country. However, the overthrow of the authoritative regime of Mexican president did not end the relationships with the United States (Richter, 2016). The Mexican government was still in need of economic assistance, and the American authorities have managed to take advantage of the events and politics. Hence, the Americans successfully strengthened their imperialist positions in Latin America through the development of a sophisticated network of economic, cultural and social interactions with Mexico.
America’s active engagement in politics and commerce in the Middle East region also demonstrates a new understanding of imperialist adventure. As an example, although the US government had limited trade with the Middle East, the two economies concluded the agreements. The majority of American engagement with the Middle East was associated with education, culture, and humanitarian help rather than with the economy (Richter, 2016). These missions were of cultural importance and contributed to the development of western-style universities in the Middle East. The reforms helped the North American power to establish its firm positions in the world.
Finally, it is noteworthy that America’s development as an empire started since its separation from the British Empire. The establishment of new trade relationships with Mexico, China, and the Middle East allowed the United States to strengthen its positions in the world, as well as establish its own economic and international trade routes. Although not all the trade routes were successful and beneficial, the US government has managed to establish itself as a separate economy with imperial trends. The imperialism itself was also positioned as the political and economic power, which guided the activities and relations in the world and allowed America to gain dominance.
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The Management of Ethnicity in the American, British, Russian, and the Qing Empire
Any civilization starts with conquering new lands. As such, the American Empire was created because of the cooperation and conquering of the native Indian territories. Although the Russian Empire positioned itself as one nation, its history still proves its multi-ethnic nature as an important factor that demonstrates and characterizes peoples and regions. Similarly, ethnicity management in Qing Empire’s history is complicated due to the ambiguity regarding the Manchu ethnicity, presented as the core ethnic group. Regardless of the presence of multiple ethnicities in all the Empires’ regimes, the British Empire was still the core one, which took control of the rest to retain the image of monopolistic governance. Furthermore, none of those regimes recognized the existence of ethnicities, explaining it as the policy of protecting the nation from the split.
While invading the New World, Americans tried to take control of trade routes, manage population and production, and adjust to the new environmental possibilities. They started by exploring the coastal colonies, and extended their influence inland by agricultural settlements (Burbank & Cooper, 2011). By bringing technologies, the Europeans began establishing their commercial and economic infrastructure, which imposed certain changes to the tribal population. They have also brought their own ways of interpreting societies, calling on the range of rights and ideologies that sought to ‘civilize’ ethnicities. in the same way, the Spanish and British invaders believed that their assistance can eliminate the problem of insufficient knowledge of mastering nature and agriculture among the North American Indians.
The sixteenth century witnessed the Europeans who intervened into the life of Indians to learn more about their lifestyle. The newcomers were confident that the natives lacked knowledge about the domestication of nature, and they strived to manage these people to enhance their education. American Empire, therefore, was a part of this management. The Europeans revealed this encounter through positive narrations of stories and legends, such as that Pocahontas's story (Burbank & Cooper 2011). The Indian girl fell in love with English Captain John Smith, saving him from punishment of her father Powhatam. This was a romantic narration of Powhatan’s privilege and power. In general, such stories motivated the newcomers and deceived the aboriginal tribes of the genuine sequences of events, which highlight cruelties in conquering the new land. Their position amounted to their utmost obligation to educate the local inhabitants and urgent assistance for aboriginal tribes to survive. In fact, they failed to recognize the authentic nature and culture of Indians, limiting them to their one-dimensional vision of civilized development.
The British Empire exercised a cooperative policy to deal with other nations by promoting their business ventures inland and abroad. However, it still conflicted with Ireland because it threatened their independence and fruitful cooperation with the rest of Europe, particularly with France. To become powerful, the British Empire had to expand overseas and manage ethnicities in the Asian sector (Bayly, 2016). By organizing its production processes and companies in India, it strived to dominate over its rivals, Portugal and Spain, who pioneered in the Mediterranean region (Bayly, 2016). Hence, its ethnical management was due to the attempt to establish its commercial and political strength among other economies.
Concerning Qing Empire, we should mention that at that time multiple identities and ethnicities existed in China. Some historical facts show that this fact was not always supported. The traditional interpretation of the Manchu identity underscores its importance and the ways that the Chinese enabled it to govern China for centuries. Instead, the boundaries of managing ethnicity in China are broader than previously accepted, but its historical significance is emphasized (Sun, 2017). In other words, it has been asserted that Manchu identity relies on the ideological constructions aimed at strengthening imperial centralization and unification (Sun, 2017). The ethnic dominance of this group was marked by language construction that maintains the rest of the ethnic groups committed to the Manchu identity. In reality, it has shaped other ethnic groups and suppressed them to form the core nation. The first references date back to 1635, revealing the transition of Jurchens into Manchus. The second ruler of Qing Dynasty, Hong Taiji, provided a new identity, which could subject the tribal ethnic minorities and rewrite the history by shaping the new stronger ethnic ground. During Taiji’s rule, a new community was constructed to integrate the Chinese and Manchu conquest elite (Sun, 2017). The governor proclaimed and asserted the new name for the people – Manchu. Instead, Jurchen ceased existing; furthermore, its meaning has become associated with negative connotation, referring to a common person or even a slave. The term acquired a negative meaning among the Han Chinese people (Sun, 2017). About the above transitions and ethnic suppression, we can underline that the rules of the Qing dynasty strived to assert its dominance by pronouncing the Manchu the core ethnicity and ignoring and de-evaluating the significance of the rest of the ethnical groups in China.
Russian politics toward the presence of multiple ethnicities is similar to that in China and America. To enlarge on the issue, the state positioned itself as one nation, ignoring the fact of the presence of multiple identities and cultural backgrounds. Russian Empire has witnessed constant fights with the adjacent territories for the right to proclaim their nation (Kappeler, 2014). As an example, the Khanate of Kazan involved a special position among the successor nations of the Golden Horde (Kappeler, 2014). Its socio-political network correlated with the pattern introduced by the Golden Horde. The Tatar aristocrats ruled the region of the central Volga and were among the most civilized, non-nomadic Islamic nations (Kappeler, 2014). The point is that the Khanate of Kazan has much in common with the Muscovite state in terms of economic habits, and social, cultural, and political development (Kappeler, 2014). However, its small territory and human and economic resources made it possible for the Muscovite state to advance its forces and take control over the region in the middle of the sixteenth century. Because of the overthrow of the khan, the Muscovite state started its invasion by conquering cities and territories, as well as contributing to the emergence of the rival clans among the Tatars.
The gradual conquering of the Khanate and other ethnicities, along with the annexation of Crimea, paved the road to the northern coast of the Black Sea for the purpose of invading and subjugating the Cossacks. The Russian government took advantage of the Eastern Slav Cossacks and foreign colonists to grasp the territory and establish a wide expansion of the steppe. Apart from the conquest of the Zaporozhian Sich, Russia continued its invasion to the Black Sea Germans’ community, the ethnic minorities who freed themselves from the Ottoman Empire (Kappeler, 2014). The Russian governors made use of their vulnerable position and decided to manage these groups. Hence, although the Russian Empire held the conquering position of the ethnic minorities, it still strived to disguise it as a noble act of gathering lands, previously possessed by the Golden Horde (Kappeler, 2014). The dissolution of the Crimean Tatars and Khanate, expansion to the steps of the Dniester, and the Black Sea invasions have made it possible for the Empire to dominate the Eurasian continent. The struggle for inheritance made enabled the minorities to defend their rights for independence and separate existence. By the principle of splitting and dominating, the Russian Empire has managed to establish its rule over smaller ethnic groups.
In conclusion, the historical account sheds light on how the constant invasions and subjugation of new nations and states that had no stable governmental apparatus or lacked economic resources made it possible for the American, British, Russian and Qing Empires to manage ethnicities under different circumstances and by other methods. Specifically, the American conquerors of the Indian tribes believed that their civilized approach to educating the indigenous population can help the inhabitants to enhance their economic strength and social development. The Russian Empire did not attempt to recognize any ethnicities, considering that their existence within the state could be more beneficial. Finally, the Qing dynasty has passed through the gradual transformation of the Manchu identity, which originated from another ethnicity. All these changes and approaches were either diplomatic or aggressive, but these methods made it possible for the greatest Empires in the history to sustain their dominance over the rest of the world. Some of them were more flexible, like the British Empire, which helped it survive until the present times. It refers to the United States, the Russian Federation, and China which are still in conflict on the way to proving their supremacy. Their management of ethnicity is questionable because it creates controversies and debates worldwide. Some of the means are not morally justified as they imply violence, aggression, and violation of human rights.