Houghton Mifflin Textbook -
InstructorsStudentsReviewersAuthorsBooksellers Contact Us
Textbook Site for:
The Earth and Its Peoples: A Global History, Second Edition
Richard W. Bulliet, Pamela Kyle Crossley, Daniel R. Headrick, Steven W. Hirsch, Lyman L. Johnson, David Northrup
History WIRED

Africa, India, and the New British Empire, 1750-1870


European Map of Africa, 1850
This map demonstrates Europeans' limited knowledge of Africa during the mid-nineteenth century, particularly of the interior of the continent.

African Political Entities before the Scramble
This map is a more accurate portrayal of political developments in Africa during the nineteenth century before the Europeans colonized most of the region.

African History: The Age of Exploration
This site includes several maps of the routes that European explorers took on their journeys through the continent.

Map of British India, 1875

British Empire: Map Room
This interactive map allows you to view specific areas. Note: This map covers the British Empire at its territorial peak, not necessarily the period discussed in this chapter.

Explorers and Exploration
At the bottom of this web page are two maps that show the routes used by European explorers from the fifteenth through the nineteenth century in a global context. These routes helped to create the commercial system explored in this chapter.

Royal Illustrated Atlas, 1876
This site presents images from this nineteenth-century atlas and also includes several images of the British Empire and other regions of the world.

The British Empire Museum
By clicking on "Timeline," you can view images and maps of the British Empire at various historical stages. This site uses Shockwave software.


National Geographic: Forbidden Territory
This unique site offers numerous images of David Livingston's and Henry Stanley's explorations of Africa.

The Swahili Coast
This site offers a video clip from the PBS series of an interview with a descendant of the merchant Tippu Tip.

Manas: British India
Placed within this essay are numerous images from the period.

History of India: British Rule
By clicking on the time line at the top of the page, you can access images from various periods of Britain's rule over India during the nineteenth century.

Tippu Sultan, 1750-1799
This comprehensive site includes an image gallery of this man and this period in Indian history.

Nineteenth-Century British and Indian Armies and their soldiers
This site offers numerous digitized versions of photographs from this period.

The Epic of the Race: India, 1857
This site presents several images of India during the Sepoy Revolt.

Cable and Wireless: A History Around the World
This unique site contains images from the nineteenth-century activities of this British company, including the laying of the trans-atlantic cable.

Activity One:

Chapter 26, Africa, India, and the New British Empire, 1750-1870 in Bulliet, et al., The Earth and Its Peoples (Second Edition) explores many of the changes in Britain's overseas empire that occurred during the nineteenth century. To pursue this topic further, go to The Second British Empire and British Imperial Territories in the 1850's. In terms of territory, what was new about the British Empire in the nineteenth century? On a related topic, this chapter also discusses the impact of industrialization on Britain's overseas policies. Locate the territories listed at British Imperial Territories in the 1850s on the map provided at World Continents. (Hint: Print out this map and also use the maps in your textbook to locate these possessions.) Which territories gave the British control of vital sea lanes or commercial routes? Which ones gave them access to major markets such as China or to certain raw materials such as palm oil from Africa? At this point you should realize that the concerns of the new British Empire were not solely matters of territorial control. They also involved controlling vital trade routes and having access to many raw materials and overseas markets. What kinds of raw materials or primary products did the British hope to obtain, and what kinds of items did they desire to sell during this period? How did these objectives differ from Britain's aims during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, when its primary overseas focus was the Atlantic World and India?

Activity Two:

The Industrial Revolution made the new British Empire possible. Without the technological advances in transportation and communication, Britain's influence around the world during the nineteenth century would not have been as comprehensive. For example, explore the impact of the telegraph on the evolution of the British Empire at Cable and Wireless: A History. Click on "Life of the Company" on the left-hand side of your screen. Then click on the link "Cable and Wireless and the British Empire" and read this brief essay. Explain why the author describes this company as the "nerve system" of the British Empire. For further insight into the meaning of this description, click on "Around the World" on the left-hand side of your screen; then tour the areas that appear on the screen. Be sure to click on the image of a globe shown at the bottom of each site.

What advantages did the growth of this company provide for the nation of Britain during the nineteenth century? How did the Cable and Wireless Company's operations promote Britain's access to raw materials or foreign markets? Why do you think that a British company, rather than one from another country, happened to build the world's first global communications system?

To explore further the impact of technology on the evolution of the British Empire during the nineteenth century, see The Suez Isthmus: The Joining of Two Seas. At the bottom right-hand corner, click on the second icon (the one with an h). When the new screen appears, click on the image of the man and then read the essay on the diplomacy that was used during the building of the canal. After reading the essay, click on the icon shaped like a crane in the bottom left-hand corner. When the new page appears, click on "Introduction" at the bottom right, read the essay, and then hit "return." Continue this process to access all of the topics listed under "Introduction" and then answer the following questions: What was the purpose of the Suez Canal? Why did the British initially refuse to go along with the project but then acquiesce to the French efforts? How did the British benefit from the canal's construction? What aspects of the Industrial Revolution made the construction of the canal possible?

Finally, go to Ships: The Backbone of the Empire and read the first eleven paragraphs. Explain why the author describes ships as the "backbone" of the empire. How did the Industrial Revolution increase the influence of British shipping? To complete this activity after reviewing all the links at this site, analyze the ways in which the Industrial Revolution led to the development of a "new British Empire" during the nineteenth century. Refer back to activity one for your definition of this new empire and include it in your response.

Activity Three:

The growth of the new British Empire affected different peoples around the world in different ways. The subcontinent of India became Britain's most important overseas possession during the nineteenth century. For an assessment of the British raj, read The New Nationalist Movement in India by Jabez T. Sunderland. This article appeared in the Atlantic Monthly, a popular journal in the United States, in 1908. Accordings to its author, what was the legacy of British rule in India? While crafting your response, consider the following questions: How had India's economy developed? What new technologies had been introduced into the subcontinent? What were living standards like for the average Indian? The author puts the blame for the conditions squarely on British rule. What specific policies does he blame for India's problems, and what remedy does he offer? Does he advocate turning back the clock and restoring India to its old traditions, or does he propose a more Western solution? Does he look to India's past to support the idea of a modern Indian nation-state?

Sunderland claims that there is a generation of Indians, especially members of the Indian National Congress Party, ready to govern the subcontinent more justly. To explore this topic further, read the essays at History of India: Social and Cultural Awakening, The Indian National Congress [1885 AD - 1905 AD], and Western Education in Nineteenth-Century India and then answer the following questions: Which groups made up the Indian National Congress? How had their lives been affected by British rule? What impact did Western ideas have on their sense of Indian nationalism? What alternatives to direct British rule did the Indian Congress propose? What ideas influenced this demand for more autonomy? Were these ideas strictly Western, or did they also draw on India's past? Which groups led the Congress Party, and what role did they play in Indian society during British rule?

After reviewing all of these sites, explain the impact of British rule on India during the nineteenth century. Be sure to consider developments in economics, education, politics, and national identity. How had India changed during the period from the beginning of the nineteenth century until the century's end?

Activity Four:

The new British Empire also strongly influenced areas that were not under the direct control of British authorities. For one example, go to The Rulers of Zanzibar. While reading this essay, think about how the growth of the new British Empire affected this island kingdom. Remember, it wasn't until the end of the nineteenth century that the British had direct control over the island, yet the power and decisions of the British government and British merchants strongly influenced the history of Zanzibar throughout the period. Consider developments such as the ending of the international slave trade, the increase in British shipping and British markets for African exports other than slaves, and the transportation and communication revolutions. In analyzing the relationship of Great Britain and Zanzibar throughout the nineteenth century, how much would you say that the rulers of Zanzibar gained or lost due to the expansion of the new British Empire? How did the more common people of Zanzibar fare during this period?