| Chapter 26: The West and the World, 1815-1914
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> Chapter 26
Chapter 26: The West and the World, 1815-1914

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Chapter Outline

  • Industrialization and the World Economy
  • The Rise of Global Inequality
  • In 1750, the European standard of living approximated that of the rest of the world.
  • Industrialization opened the gap between Europe and the rest of the world, with Britain leading.
  • Third World income per person stagnated before 1913.
  • Two schools of interpretation of resulting income differences:
  • The West used science, technology, and capitalism to create wealth.
  • The West used superior power to steal much of its riches from the rest of the world.
  • The World Market
  • Britain led the world in manufacturing and, after 1846, as a market for goods from other countries.
  • Railroads, steam vessels, and the Panama and Suez Canals helped expand trade.
  • From the mid-1800s France, Germany, and Britain invested massively abroad.
  • Most of this capital actually went to Europe, the United States and Canada, Australia and New Zealand, and Latin America.
  • The Opening of China and Japan
  • Prior to the nineteenth century, the Chinese government carefully regulated trade with Europe and China sent more goods to Europe than it received.
  • Chinese efforts to stamp out the opium trade led to war with Britain.
  • The Treaty of Nanking (1842) opened additional Chinese cities to trade.
  • The British and French forced the reluctant Qing Dynasty to open China to their trade (1839-1860).
  • The United States Navy forced Japan to open its ports to foreign trade (1853-1858).
  • Western Penetration of Egypt
  • Muhammad Ali modernized the Egyptian army and government, hired Europeans, and made Egypt autonomous within the Ottoman Empire (first half of 1800s).
  • Ali’s encouragement of commercial agriculture turned peasants into tenant farmers.
  • Ali’s grandson Ismail (r. 1863-1879) continued modernization.
  • Arabic replaces Turkish as official language.
  • French company built Suez Canal (1869).
  • Cairo got modern boulevards.
  • Large-scale export of cotton.
  • The Egyptian government was unable to pay off massive debts incurred during modernization.
  • The British occupied Egypt to force payment (1882) and remained in Egypt until 1956.
  • The Great Migration
  • The Pressure of Population
  • The population of Europe doubled between 1800 and 1900.
  • Between 1815 and 1932 more than 60 million people left Europe.
  • The growing number of Europeans provided further impetus for Western expansion.
  • Emigration peaked in the decade before World War I.
  • About one-third of all European emigrants came from the British Isles.
  • German emigration peaked in the 1880s and Italian emigration increased up to the eve of World War I.
  • Less than one-half of European emigrants went to the U.S. Others went to Asiatic Russia, Canada, Argentina, Brazil, Australia, and New Zealand.
  • European Migrants
  • Most European migrants were young, unmarried peasant farmers or village craftsmen.
  • Some ethnic groups, such as Italians, had a high rate of return to their homelands.
  • For some emigrants, such as Jews from the Russian Empire, emigration was an escape from oppression.
  • Asian Migrants
  • About three million Asians moved abroad before 1920.
  • Most Asian migrants were indentured laborers.
  • In the 1840s, Spain recruited Chinese laborers for Cuban plantations. Peruvian landlords also brought workers from China.
  • European settlers objected to Asian migration for racist reasons and because they feared competition from cheap labor. From the 1880s, Americans and Australians were developing “whites only” immigration policies.
  • Western Imperialism, 1880–1914
  • The Scramble for Africa
  • Before 1880, European penetration of Africa was limited to French control of Algiers, British and Dutch settlers in South Africa, and Portuguese coastal enclaves in western Africa.
  • By 1900, European powers ruled all of Africa except Ethiopia and Liberia.
  • The South African War (1898-1902) led to British creation and control of the Union of South Africa.
  • The Congress of Berlin (1884-1885) established that European claims on African territory had to be secured by “effective occupation.” This led to a rush into the interior.
  • The British conquest of the Sudan exemplifies the general process of empire building in Africa.
  • Imperialism in Asia
  • After 1815, the Dutch expanded their control of the Indonesian archipelago.
  • The French took Indochina.
  • The Russians expanded in Central Asia and along the north Chinese frontier.
  • The U.S. took the Philippines in the Spanish-American War of 1898.
  • Causes of the New Imperialism
  • Tariff barriers limiting imports to much of Europe and to the U.S. led major industrial powers to seek new markets.
  • In reality, most new colonies were not profitable.
  • Colonies were seen however, as important as military bases and naval coaling stations.
  • Colonies were also important for national prestige.
  • Social Darwinists predicted the demise of societies that did not compete in the colonial race.
  • Technological superiority (machine guns, quinine, telegraph, steamships) made conquest of new colonies feasible.
  • Conservative political leaders fostered pride in empire as a means of damping down social tension.
  • Shipping companies, military men, and missionaries all advocated colonial expansion.
  • A “Civilizing Mission”
  • Europeans often discussed colonial expansions in terms of a “civilizing mission.”
  • From this point of view, colonialism was justified by nonwhite people’s eventual enjoyment of the fruits of European civilization.
  • Western expansion facilitated the spread of Christianity in Africa.
  • Missionary efforts generally failed in India, China, and the Islamic world.
  • Critics of Imperialism
  • Some Europeans criticized imperialism.
  • J.A. Hobson (1858–1940) and others argued that colonies only benefited the wealthiest elites in Europe and actually cost ordinary taxpayers money.
  • Other critics, such as Joseph Conrad (1857–1924), saw European imperialism as racist, exploitative, and contrary to the West’s own liberal values.
  • Responding to Western Imperialism
  • The Pattern of Response
  • Generally, the initial response, as in China, Japan, and Sudan, was to try to drive foreigners away with force.
  • When this failed, many Asians and Africans retreated to a defense of traditional culture.
  • Others, such as Ismail, the khedive of Egypt, sought to modernize and match the West.
  • When the power of traditionalists and modernizers was shattered by superior force, the majority of Africans and Asians accepted imperial rule.
  • Support for European rule, however, was shallow and weak.
  • Later, European liberalism provided resisters with an ideology of political self-determination and nationalism.
  • Empire in India
  • The last attempt to drive the British from India by force was the Great Rebellion (1857-1858).
  • After 1858, Britain ruled India directly through a small body of white civil servants.
  • The British offered some Indians, especially upper-caste Hindus, opportunities to serve in government.
  • The British established a modern system of secondary education, promoted economic development, and created a unified, powerful state.
  • Nonetheless, British rule rested ultimately on racism and dictatorship.
  • This provoked the development of Indian nationalism and the foundation of the Indian National Congress in 1885.
  • The Example of Japan
  • The initial appearance of Europeans and Americans in Japan provoked violence from radical samurai who wished to expel them by force.
  • In 1867, a group of patriotic samurai overthrew the shogun, restored the Emperor to
  • political power, and undertook an intensive modernization program. This event is known as the Meiji Restoration.
  • They abolished the feudal state and created a strong central government.
  • They created a free economy.
  • They built a modern navy and army.
  • The Japanese studied the West, and Japan hired many Western specialists.
  • Japan itself became an imperial power in Formosa, Manchuria, and Korea.
  • Toward Revolution in China
  • Between 1860 and 1894, the Qing Dynasty made a surprising comeback.
  • In 1894-1895, defeat by Japan in the Sino-Japanese War short-circuited Qing reform efforts in China.
  • From 1895 to 1898, European powers rushed to carve out zones of influence in China.
  • Radical reformers such as Sun Yatsen (1866–1925) aimed to overthrow the Qing and establish a republic.
  • Traditionalists turned toward ancient practices and sought to expel the foreigners. One aspect of this response was the Boxer Rebellion (1899-1900).
  • In 1912, the Qing Dynasty collapsed.


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