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Causes of British Imperialism Essay

Throughout history, countries have expanded their empires to create the largest and most powerful on the globe. Napoleon and Alexander the Great had two of the most controlling empires ever created, and Great Britain’s in the early 1800’s was another of the best. During this time, many empires started expanding to make greater and more commanding kingdoms. Great Britain greatly grew in the 19th century. India, Asia and parts of Africa joined with them to help expand their territory. Britain used an imperialistic government, which was made to take over other areas of the world to gain power to add to their own empire. There were many different causes to British imperialism, some being political, social or economic. In addition, some of the British conquests were beneficial, yet some were not and left harmful impressions on the dominated areas.

Great Britain expanded their empire for many reasons. Mainly, their imperialistic motive was economic. The English exported goods to India mainly so they could gain money for themselves. They primarily sold cotton, oil, yarn, Iron, steel, tools, machinery and locomotives. The British took advantage of the demand for raw materials in the world, and gained money off the market. In addition, the British took advantage of the longing for raw materials and tea. Africa had multiple gold fields and Britain saw the need to take over the land in order to improve their business. Britain also took over India, and it didn’t take long for the Indians to realize they were being taken over for money. Gaining Africa and India resulted in an expansion of the British Empire. The British also chose the right time to create this large empire, making tons of profits. At the time, labor was very cheap and there were many markets growing in the colonies across the globe.

Great Britain also had a humanitarian goal in mind when they were developing their large empire. When the British went into India and Africa, they had an intention to improve the living conditions of the two areas. They industrialized India, resulting in improved sanitation, a higher standard of living, irrigation, canalization and developed transport. The Indians were very grateful for all that Britain did for them because they got rid of famine, weakened the death rate and suppressed war, three things India had had much trouble with in the past. They also wanted to stop slavery and spread their ideas throughout the world. They used missionaries to convert as many as possible to Christianity, and it succeeded with the Africans.

The Malay states had lots of trouble in the early 1700s, and they needed a good deal of help. They asked the British to come help them organize their country, form them a government, and start a real society. The British did just that, resulting in a shared government. Britain took care of foreign affairs and defense, while the Malay states still took care of their domestic policies. Britain had outstanding nationalism, or pride in ones country, during this time period. They weren’t only expanding their nation for the money aspect, but they wanted to be the largest along with the best, and they believed that they could do it.

After obtaining these lands, the British had both positive and negative effects upon the ruled natives. Positively, Britain brought Christianity and an end to slavery in Africa. Also in Africa, an organizational education system was set up along with a federal court. In India, sanitation, standard of living, transportation and irrigation were all established. Also, they decreased the recurring high death rate and taught the Indians to grow better crops by taking better care of their land. The British also helped out the Malay states by creating railroads, roads and health, government, and irrigation systems. They also improved literacy, diminished the use of native practices such as sati, created a common language, and gained extensive amounts of land.

On the other hand, Great Britain had many negative effects on their colonial rule. Mainly, when the British took over areas across the globe they were taking land away from the natives along with many of their natural resources, and also forced labor upon many of the natives. The British government sent India into bankruptcy, and kept the Indians as slaves. In Africa, the British only allowed some to use hospitals or get an education rather than all, didn’t allow religious freedom, and public services were underdeveloped. Many environments, cultures and religions were also ruined because of British imperialism.

As you can see, the sun never sets on the British Empire. The British had conquered lands all across the globe, gaining more things politically as well as economically as they continued. They no longer were in need of anything, especially power. They had all the power they could get, and even helped out other countries while they received it. They improved transportation, spread their religion, created irrigation and government systems, as well as much more. A large goal when involved with imperialism is to reach sovereignty, and the British Empire in the 1800s definitely accomplished that goal. If the British did not have so much pride and devotion to their country they would not have reached this ambition, and they would not have succeed half as far as they did.

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