| The Earth and Its Peoples: A Global History, Second Edition
|The New Imperialism, 1869-1914
Colonial Empires, 1914
Overland Telegraph Link between Europe and India, 1870
Scroll down to see this map.
Political Entities Before the Scramble
Africa, late 1800's
Africa, Imperial Boundaries, 1914
from the Boer War
African Empire before World War I
at the beginning of the twentieth century
This is a contemporary map of the region.
Interactive Map of the Panama Canal
The Gatling Gun
of Darkness Web Page: Images
This site presents four images of the Belgian Congo around
the turn of the century.
in the Boer War
Scroll down to view many images of the weapons used in
this turn-of-the-century conflict. Included are images of machine
guns and long-range artillery.
Historical Graphics Gallery
This outstanding site provides illustrations of American
imperialism at the turn of the century. It also includes many anti-imperialist
Online History of the United States: The Age of Imperialism
This comprehensive site contains numerous images of U.S.
imperialism in the Caribbean and the Pacific at the turn of the century.
Centennial of the Spanish-American War
This online exhibit contains numerous photographs and
illustrations, from the American perspective, of this period of American
War in Perspective: Public Appeals, Memory, and the Spanish-American Conflict
This is another online exhibit that focuses on the propaganda
surrounding this conflict.
Image of the Sinking of the Maine
This is an example of the kinds of images that helped
to spark the Spanish-American War.
of the Maine
This site presents more photos of the vessel destroyed
in Havana Harbor.
on the Extent of Colonialism, 1939
There are numerous images of the construction and early
operations of the Suez Canal here.
Panama Canal, Historical Images
Animation Explaining the Operation of the Canal
This multimedia site explores how the system of locks
operates in the Panama Canal.
of the Canal
This site offers recent photographs of the operation
of the Panama Canal.
Natural History of Latex Rubber Allergy
Observe several images of the collection of natural rubber
at this site. Rubber was produced in the Congo, Southeast Asia, and
Brazil during the era of New Imperialism.
The industrial powers literally conquered most of the
nonindustrialized world during the late nineteenth and early twentieth
centuries (see Statistics
on the Extent of Colonialism, 1939). This kind of naked aggression
is roundly condemned by today's international community. What, then,
led these societies to support such a conquest? What were the justifications
for this aggression?
It is probably best to let the actors speak for themselves.
Carefully read the following essays: Capt.
F. D. Lugard: The Rise of Our East African Empire, 1893; Joseph
Chamberlain Preaches the Doctrine of Commercial Imperialism, 1893;
Sourcebook: Jules Ferry (1832-1893): On French Colonial Expansion;
History Sourcebook: Program of the Pan-German League, 1890-1898; Friedrich
Fabri Urges Imperialism on Germany "If She Would Live," 1879; President
McKinley Explains His Attitude toward the Philippines, 1900; and
Landward Expansion. The first two accounts were given by British
supporters of imperial expansion, the third by a French advocate, the fourth
and fifth by German imperialists, the sixth by an American president, and
the last by a Russian officer.
While reading these excerpts, take notes and keep track
of the various justifications that they offer for the "New Imperialism."
When you have finished, group these reasons into broad categories such
as economic, cultural, and political. Which reason or reasons do
you believe were the most influential in motivating these societies to
support this expensive undertaking? In other words, which justifications
do the writers mention most often?
Most native peoples of Africa and Asia were not passive
victims of imperialism. A review of the chart Wars
of 1899 reveals that during that year alone, all of the military conflicts
involved imperialist actions. Most of the wars were waged between
industrial powers and indigenous peoples who were resisting foreign encroachment.
Most often, the latter's efforts proved ineffective. Exploring a
few of the many conflicts that occurred in Central Asia, Africa, and Southeast
Asia during this time can help you understand how the industrialized nations
were able to impose their will on other societies. Begin by reading
the following essays: In
the Steppe of Central Asia, The
Colonial Wars of Imperial Germany, and Lightning
from the Clouds: The U.S. Army and the Moro Wars. Describe
the native peoples' resistance to the Russian, German, and American aggressors.
What were these peoples' goals and strategies? What economic, political,
and religious traditions did they use to organize their resistance?
What innovations, if any, did they use in their strategies? (For
example, did they employ any Western technology? Did they form any
alliances with Western powers? Did they ally themselves with other
Next, describe how the Russians, Germans, and Americans
responded to this resistance. What technological advantages did they
utilize? Did they exploit divisions within indigenous groups?
After responding to these questions, analyze this statement from page 729
of Bulliet, et al., The Earth and Its Peoples (Second Edition):
"Technological advances explain both the motives and the outcome of the
New Imperialism." Was technology the decisive factor in the outcomes
of these conflicts? Did technological advances lead to the industrial
powers' willingness to fight and conquer these people?
The governments of industrial nations would not have
been willing to expend the effort and funds necessary to colonize Asia
and Africa if their citizens had not supported these moves. Indeed,
many governments used imperialist actions abroad as a means of unifying
their constituents at home (see web Activity Four for Chapter 28, The New
Power Balance, 1850-1900). In the United States, more than in other
countries, public opinion was extremely divided on the issue of imperialism
since the nation had originally been a colony itself. U.S. supporters
of the Spanish-American War and the consequent colonization of the Philippines,
Puerto Rico, and Guam used a variety of measures to garner support for
their cause. One resource available to them was three-dimensional
stereoscopic photographs. To learn more about this new technology
of the day, see Stereoscopic
Visions of War and Empire: Introduction. Why was this medium
so effective for reaching the general public? Can you think of any
equivalent device used today? To view some of these images, go to
of War and Empire, and analyze the images in the first four categories
under "Content." Do not focus on the text; instead, concentrate on
the images. You do not have to view every image, but be sure to examine
several under each category.
How did these stereoscopic images promote imperialist
goals? What messages did the American public receive when viewing
them? Remember to place yourself in the proper time and place while
viewing the images. These people did not necessarily share the same
values you have today. How did these images reflect the Victorian
values of the time, especially views on race? (To review Victorian
values, see the section entitled The Victorian Age and Women's "Separate
Sphere" on pages 711-713 of Chapter 28.) Which of the motives for the New
Imperialism that you explored in Activity One--economic, cultural, or political--do
these images reflect? Do you think that the mass production of photographic
images aided or abetted the imperialists' cause? Explain your answer.
As the debate over imperialism that was occurring in
the United States suggests, not all citizens of the industrialized nations
supported imperialist causes. The first real international backlash
against the excesses of colonial policies came at the turn of the century
in response to the situation in the Belgian Congo. To learn more
about this movement, go to Heart
of Darkness. On the left-hand side of your screen, click on "Historical
Background," and then click on the hyperlinks that appear below this topic
and read the corresponding text in the right-hand frame.
After obtaining this overview of the situation, read the
primary sources at Personal
Observations of Congo Misgovernment and Conditions
of the Congo State and then answer the following questions: What were
the primary goals of the Congo Reform Association? Describe the activities
in the Belgian Congo that sparked its outrage? How would you characterize
the people who were involved in this group? Did it include supporters
of imperialism, critics of it, or both? To what extent would you
describe the Congo Reform Association as an anti-imperialist organization?
In other words, did it propose liberating the Belgian Congo from foreign
rule? Did it question the values and assumptions of the Victorian
Age or uphold them?
Even if the Congo Reform Association never directly challenged
the right of Europeans to rule the Congo, in many ways its efforts were
the first blows to imperialism made in the twentieth century. As
many Westerners began to notice the contradictions between their notions
of their cultural superiority and their actions, the justifications for
imperialism, especially for white supremacy, began to fall apart during
the first half of the twentieth century.