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Research Paper on Imperialism

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Sample Research Paper on Imperialism

In the mid 1800’s to early 1900’s, there was a rush of Imperialism by European countries. “The need for new markets, the desire to foster national pride and spread European values, and the lure of adventure all fostered imperialism” (World History: Perspectives on the Past). By the end of the 1800’s, there were three main powers The United States, Japan and the European powers who all had control over colonies in Africa, India, China, and the Pacific Islands. We know that there were far reaching effects both positive and negative caused by the “The Age of Imperialism” by the many factors that brought economic, political and social changes.

One of the most positive effects of imperialism on the Economic industry was the new materials or “Cash Crops” coming in from new colonized states such as in Africa, where Europeans treasured their Diamond trade, and in China, where the narcotic Opium which was loved and needed. This drug was an especially powerful economic force that helped open the door to trade with China by causing a war between China and much of Europe. British smugglers brought in so much of the previously controlled import and caused a problem for the Chinese people because of its habit-forming addiction. This angered the Chinese Government which then started a war in 1839 and later ended with the signing of the treaty of Nanking, a leading victory for Britain allowing them access to many of China’s ports. In general, Britain actually helped the rise in value of many of their exports, brought education to the people of India and Africa, and built better transportation and better means of communication. This is summarized in this quote from The Economic History of India under Early British Rule written by an Indian, Romesh Dutt, “The Europeans have given the people of India the greatest human blessing, peace. They have introduced Western Education. This has brought an ancient and civilized nation in touch with modern thought, modern services, and modern life. They have built an administration that is strong and efficient. They have formed wise laws and have established courts of justice.” This education and advancement brought better jobs and possibilities to the future of India. While European colonizers brought great benefits to civilizations, which the continents may not have achieved on their own, the negative effects on these continents became evident as time went on.

The new industries formed by Europeans on these continents created some negative affects as well, slavery and bad working conditions being the worst and causing a poor economy for these places, especially Africa. For example, the diamond workers in Africa were all natives while the white Europeans stood around all day and forcefully made these people work for objects that weren’t even going to be kept in their homelands. Because of this rise in European businesses, the natives starting producing cash crops instead of their own sources of food, which led to an enormous rate of hunger and homelessness. Because of this new money economy, the people of the land had to start working for others to make money to live instead of just working for themselves and providing themselves with food and resources. Since most of their export profits went to the white man, and most of their skilled work was given to the white man, the African people were stripped not only of their finances, but also their responsibility and self-confidence.

Now that we see how people were being treated during these times, the next subject is the positive and negative effect socially in Africa and Asia. Class division between the Europeans and natives became obvious. The Europeans treated the natives as if they were not human. As in Africa where most of them were now poor and unskilled, it was easy to pass them by as not having the ability to govern themselves in any way thus defining class division even more and stopping any contribution the natives might have made. Even where they were believed to have been educated in government or other issues, they were excluded from all debates or meetings concerning the fate of their own country. Seemingly groups were classified as acceptable to European ways or be denied and treated like non human beings. In India however, the effects of a more modern government and a judicial system were more obvious as shown in the previous quote and had a more positive affect. These and new innovative ideas and inventions of the Western Hemisphere such as, communication techniques, like the telegraph or the transportation ideas, like the railroad, were brought over and built quickly in order to compensate for the size of the continent and the importance of communication and transportation to Europeans in these foreign lands, thus connecting the people more readily and allowing for more advancement.

Finally, one of the most important aspects is the political affect of the Age of Imperialism. The most prominent political point of Imperialism is that every country was scrambling for territory on unconquered land no matter the cost, which led to these major changes in these countries. When the European forces colonized Africa and Asia, they did it by force and kept their territory by force. Many lives were lost in the actual fighting over land that was actually pretty useless, either it be for trade, military or political strong-point. The strategic points were the holding of the canals and passageways for ships or transportation. This was an expensive process. Local governments, as already discussed in the paragraph on social changes, were controlled by Europeans, yet the natives were consistently uprising, making their stay there even more costly, another drawback. A more positive view of the political changes brought on by Imperialism, is the fact that if it wasn’t for the western colonization, newer and modern ideas, such as a more democratic government, a wealthier economy and a better educational system, all leading to a more powerful country, would never have reached these Continents or would have done so at a much slower pace.

In fact Imperialism was not only about money, but mostly power. The Europeans believed themselves to be superior to all other races and felt it was their duty to spread their honorable Anglo-Saxon ways so the rest of the world would be a better place. Whenever two conflicting cultures collide, there will be positives and negatives for both sides, but even some negatives ultimately prove to have at least a small benefit. From the efforts to strip these people of these continents of their rights and heritage, came a feeling of nationalism and pride and an intense desire to reclaim what they had lost, leading at first to war but then reclaiming what was rightfully theirs.

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