Imperialism: c. 1750 - c. 1900

AP Concept: 5.2 Imperialism and Nation-State Formation
Key Concepts
  • Industrial powers created transoceanic empires
Britain's Empire
  • Britain had already established colonies in North America (which eventually became independent as the United States), India, and China, among others, but the development of global trade encouraged them to consolidate power in China and India
    • British merchants, along with many other Europeans, longed to trade with China to acquire silks, lacquerware, and tea (which was becoming England's national drink), but China was largely self-sufficient, leaving Europeans at a disadvantage
    • Merchants began to import opium from India into China, where Chinese merchants were happy to purchase opium for silver British merchants used the silver to buy Chinese goods both British and Chinese merchants profited
    • However, the opium trade quickly led to a growing number of opium addicts in China, and a customs dispute led to the first Opium War in 1839
    • China's defeat led to a series of unequal treaties that gave Britain and other European nations commercial entry into China
    • The British East India Company had a monopoly on English trade with India, and it gradually took control of the weak Mughal Empire
    • Following the Sepoy Mutiny of 1857, Britain asserted control over India and imposed direct imperial rule over the country
    • Not only did Britain enjoy advantageous trade with India (for items such as tea, coffee, cotton, and opium), but it established English-style schools and cultural traditions that profoundly changed Indian culture
Europe in Africa
  • Though Europeans had little presence in Africa at the start of the period, the scramble for Africa between 1875 and 1900 led to the occupation and exploitation of nearly the entire continent
  • King Leopold II of Belgium began the major scramble for Africa when he established a brutal rubber plantation colony in the Congo Free State
  • Britain joined the competition for Africa by occupying Egypt Germany called the Berlin Conference, in which European delegates established the ground rules for colonizing Africa (no Africans were invited)
  • Europeans established three types of rule in their African colonies
  • Direct rule: France, Belgium, Germany, and Portugal had centralized administrations in urban centers that stressed "civilizing" African societies to be more European
  • Indirect rule: Britain used indigenous African rulers within their colonial administration
  • Settler rule: Some Europeans migrated to these African colonies, planning to live there permanently, and they imposed direct rule on these colonies

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Responses to Industrialization: c. 1750 - c. 1900