Between the early s and the map of the world was redrawn, especially in Africa. With the founding of Germany and Italy , two rather aggressive and aspiring new powers appeared on the scene. After the turn of the century, two non-European states — Japan and the United States — also became imperial powers.
After its victory in the Spanish-American War, the United States conquered a colonial empire of its own in East Asia the Philippines , occupied Hawaii, and established an informal zone of influence in the Caribbean. The enormous progress in communications railways, trans-oceanic telegraph lines, steamships , the second industrial revolution steel, electricity, energy, chemistry , and technical progress in weapon technologies modern artillery , Maxim-guns or machine guns had enabled Europeans and North Americans to occupy and control territories and states which were either unknown the African interior or even perceived to be culturally superior like China some decades before the First World War.
The reasons for the acceleration of European expansion in the second half of the 19 th century are still subjects of controversial debates, but this topic calls for a separate analysis. The technical progress after the s led to the appearance of new attitudes in several European countries, while important social groups demanded more aggressive expansion outside of Europe.
With the exception of the Russians, ruling liberal and conservative elites were increasingly influenced by vague forms of Social Darwinism. Many statesmen before were convinced that the concept of the struggle for existence was also valid in foreign policy.
Finance and Empire
Empires and nation states were seen as entities that could rise and fall. According to the principle of Social Darwinism, only the strongest states would survive. Colonial expansion was therefore viewed as a precondition for gaining access to necessary resources. However, the concept often had racist overtones, especially if non-white or non-European civilizations were competing with the European imperial powers. This fact might explain the popularity of the concept: imperialists and nationalists from rather different political camps could agree on the need for expansion.
In most of the imperial powers Britain, France, Germany, and Italy , elites with different backgrounds were convinced that only expanding countries with colonies or informal spheres of influence would be able to survive in the future. It was taken for granted that hierarchies of civilizations existed, with the industrialized European countries and the United States at the top. In during the Boxer Rebellion in China all imperial competition was suspended.
Faced with an extra-European enemy the imperial powers united in an unprecedented fashion and dispatched an army that suppressed the rebellion. The Social Darwinist cultures of imperialism were rooted in different national and social traditions. Pro-colonial movements used a variety of arguments to promote national expansion. Colonies were regarded as necessary because they offered access to raw materials and could serve as outlets for domestic industries, arguments that were used especially in times of economic crises. Other motivations for expanding overseas-empires were based on more traditional forms of nationalism : colonies were seen as objects of national prestige.
Especially in the Italian and German cases, historians have debated the significance of social imperialism, the idea that imperial expansion served as a means to calm domestic and social problems and to unify the nation. Before the s the British Empire was mainly based on trade. British economic elites had developed an outlook that has been described as gentlemanly capitalism.
It was the conservative Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli who successfully embraced social imperialist arguments. In his famous speech in the Crystal Palace on 24 June , Disraeli celebrated the British Empire as a source of prestige and defended it against critics. He accused the Liberals of undermining the empire by thinking purely in financial and material terms and by forgetting about issues such as greatness, pride, and respect for the world.
In many cases, Christian missionaries also supported imperialist ideas and colonial expansion. In general the missionaries were Janus-faced. On the one hand, they preached the gospel and tried to protect the indigenous populations from cruelties committed by colonial authorities and conquerors. Many scandals about the suppression, mistreatment or massacre of native populations in the colonies became publicized in Europe because missionaries used their contacts in the press and with individual members of parliaments.
On the other hand, missions and missionaries often welcomed colonial occupation, since the protection by colonial military authorities was the only way to reach unknown and often dangerous regions in the African interior, such as the Congo. In some cases this was purely cynical colonial propaganda, but this concept also served as a powerful ideological framework to proclaim not only European technical and military superiority, but also cultural superiority.
It was the destiny of the white races to lift up mankind and to bring the lights of civilization even to the darkest places of the world. Public opinion created a pro-imperialist mood that contributed to the worsening of relations among the Great Powers before Strong and effective colonial pressure groups pushed for colonial and informal imperialist expansion. Some examples show how governments, both those democratically elected and not, lost any room for diplomatic maneuvering because of public opposition to certain beliefs.
The important role of pro-colonial pressure groups can already be seen in the Heligoland-Zanzibar Treaty of From the German perspective, this Anglo-German agreement was a success; Germany acquired the island of Heligoland, which was of enormous strategic importance, in exchange for the African island of Zanzibar, which it hardly controlled. However, this treaty caused public protest in Germany and led to the foundation of the Pan-German League Alldeutscher Verband , which later became a small but very influential pro-colonial and hyper-nationalist pressure group.
The Pan-Germans played both a destructive and a decisive role in domestic politics. Many members came from the intellectual bourgeoisie and from right wing liberal elites: many professors, teachers, intellectuals and journalists joined the league or sympathized with it. After the turn of the century the Pan-Germans took over anti-Semitic and hyper-nationalist arguments and became a kind of intellectual clearing center for racist, imperialist, and nationalist ideas.
Today, historians agree that the famous Kruger telegram, sent by Wilhelm II, German Emperor to the president of the Republic of South Africa after the failure of the British Jameson raid in , was a severe diplomatic mistake. The German emperor surrendered his neutrality and symbolically joined the Boers against British South Africa when it was not necessary. However, the German public welcomed this step.
Likewise, several strong anti-British propaganda campaigns created popular support for the freedom-fight of the Boers among the German public, using anti-British propaganda and comparing the struggle to that between David and Goliath. At the same time, neither the German nor the British government was interested in worsening bilateral diplomatic relations because of the Boer question. However, both governments were facing enormous difficulties trying to calm the press in their respective countries. Comparable problems appeared repeatedly in the decade before Although the British government favored a compromise solution, British support for the railway in the Ottoman Empire became impossible due to the public outcry against it.
Arguments against British participation were soon adopted by several members of Parliament. George Ernest Morrison , correspondent of The Times in Beijing, initiated anti-German press campaigns and even demanded a preventive war against Germany in because of informal German imperialism in China.
He was convinced that a major European war with Germany as a main aggressor was bound to occur, no matter what the British government did to appease Berlin. In Italy, beginning in the s public opinion also contributed to the creation of a pro-imperialist and expansionist mood. The Liberal Party had thus far been unable to form a homogenous nation state, although the unification of the country had already started in the s.
The creation of an Italian empire in Africa seemed to be a means both of distracting critics at home from discussing domestic problems and of creating a unifying feeling. However, this failed when the Italian colonial army suffered a disastrous and humiliating defeat by the independent state of Ethiopia in According to Paul Kennedy, economic imperialism and the Anglo-German trade rivalry were crucial factors leading to the emergence of the Anglo-German antagonism, which contributed to the outbreak of World War I.
One has to distinguish between the objective figures on the one hand and the perceived situation on the other.
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In relative terms, in the two decades before one can talk about a British decline and a German rise in export economies. For British Social Darwinists and nationalists, this development was identical to decline. However, this view did not capture the reality of economic developments. Germany remained an important market for British goods and vice versa.
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In Germany was in fact the second biggest market for British exports and re-exports. Especially in imperial affairs, German and British traders and bankers often cooperated quite successfully; at the same time, German banks had to compete with other German firms, while British banks had to deal with British competition. Unlike the British or French colonies, economically the German colonial empire was not important for the mother country.
It was also of little significance for the rising tensions between the European Great Powers prior to the First World War. In Neo-Rankean terminology, used both by contemporary diplomats and by diplomatic historians, states acted as subjects and consequently the economy was nationalized. However, economic imperialism followed its own rules, which in some cases fit with the respective national political interests but did not necessarily have to.
The intricate diplomatic and political problems caused by economic expansion are illustrated by the example of the famous Baghdad Railway project. Since the late s German banks, especially the Deutsche Bank, had been active in Turkish affairs and in financing several Turkish railway enterprises. At the turn of the century the position of German firms was so strong that one can refer to certain regions of Turkey as parts of a German economic informal empire.
The government of the Ottoman Empire tried to persuade the German bankers to extend the already existing railway lines to Baghdad and the Persian Gulf, mainly for strategic reasons.
However, as mentioned above, in these ideas met with British resistance, as this line would have been the fastest route to India and would have been controlled by German firms. Before financial imperialism very often remained multinational despite governmental attempts to nationalize it.
Banks viewed these projects as commercial opportunities and were unconcerned with national prestige. Governments acted within the frame of the nation state or empire and often tried to further national expansion. Multinational firms and banks, however, were confronted with the challenge of economic globalization and had to act internationally if they wanted to expand overseas. Until London remained the financial clearing center of the world and the London stock exchange was the most important place for all kinds of transactions.
The gold standard guaranteed stable exchange rates, and internationally the pound sterling was the most accepted currency for bills of exchange. In private a banker or trader could have been a hardcore nationalist, but if he wanted to earn money he had to act internationally.
In a couple of cases economic investments could spur imperial conflicts. Governments could claim to protect or defend investments that were threatened by an indigenous state or an imperial competitor. Examples include the bankruptcies of Egypt and the Ottoman Empire and the Venezuelan debt crisis, which started at the end of the 19 th century. For European firms this classical form of financial imperialism was much more effective than direct rule.
During the s and s in Egypt, several disputes between the French and the British caused tensions. For the British, the German support was crucial.
Finance and empire : Sir Charles Addis, / Roberta Allbert Dayer - Details - Trove
After internal uprisings and civil war, the Venezuelan government was unable to pay back its foreign debts. A British-German-Italian naval blockade escalated as German cruisers provoked skirmishes. These military events alarmed the United States, which feared that the Monroe Doctrine would be violated. However, even if informal and financial imperialism contributed to the worsening of relations between certain states during this first wave of globalization between the s and , during this period close economic ties and global financial networks were also created.
They were convinced that countries would not risk destroying the global economic system. They strongly believed that the destruction of the close connections in finance and trade, which would be the result of a great war among the European powers, would lead to a global economic disaster. As World War I showed, this opinion was correct. Between and the British government tried to improve Anglo-German relations through economic imperialism.
After the failure of the famous Haldane Mission in , British statesmen looked for objectives outside of Europe for which there could be compromise solutions with Germany. The extremely difficult negotiations for the Baghdad Railway were successfully finished in the spring of Additionally, in the treaty partitioning the Portuguese colonies , the British accepted huge German colonial acquisitions in Africa at the expense its traditional ally, Portugal.
In the same year German banks and firms created economic zones of interest using railway projects and chartered companies in southern Angola and in the north of Mozambique. By the summer of , economically the two regions were firmly in the hands of the Germans and could have been annexed under the pretext of a violation of German interests by Portuguese authorities.
This example shows that both Africa and smaller European states like Portugal were simply pawns for the European Great Powers. At the same time, economic imperialism could be used as a means to defuse political tensions. Even if in some cases a strong British-German trade rivalry existed, the reaction of leading bankers and economists interested in imperial projects showed that they were not interested in going to war with one another.
Karl Helfferich — was one of the most nationalist German bankers and as a director of the Deutsche Bank was responsible for the Baghdad Railway. I suppose Germany, our best customer, will be beaten. And what then? The third part of this article deals with diplomacy and imperialism. This term remains popular but is misleading. The European orchestra played without a conductor and without clearly accepted rules of international law. If there was anything like a system it was organized and held together by the governments of the Great Powers, which followed their own interests and jealously prevented other states from becoming too strong or reaching a hegemonic position.
Since the end of the Napoleonic Wars, disputes over colonial or imperial issues had not escalated to the point where peace in Europe was threatened. This was in large part because conflicts did not touch on interests that the European powers regarded as vital. A few exceptions, such as the Fashoda Crisis of , which nearly led to war between France and Britain, and the Second Moroccan Crisis , which will be discussed later, prove the rule. However, disputes at the so-called periphery could strongly influence the competition between the Great Powers in Europe and could lead them to redefine their interests in Europe.
The reasons for the acceleration of European expansion during the s are still being debated, but this article concentrates on the diplomatic processes and consequences of imperial expansion. This surprising step led to serious tensions with Italy, which was also interested in this territory. The French annexation had direct repercussions for the European system; fearing further French aggressions, the Italian government joined the German-Austrian-Hungarian military defensive alliance.
In the next year, following nationalist uprisings, the British navy attacked Alexandria. The Suez Canal was the shortest route between Europe and India, and the British government regarded control as vital. Although Egypt formally remained a part of the Ottoman Empire, the British consul-general Evelyn Baring, Earl of Cromer exercised the real power and British officials occupied key positions in the government.
Nearly all the Great Powers with the exception of Austria-Hungary and Russia and even one smaller European country Belgium , were interested in acquiring territories in Africa. However, their governments quickly recognized that the scramble for Africa could have undesired diplomatic repercussions in Europe. Indeed, before the turn of the century no imperialist crisis occurred that led to serious or lasting tensions between London and Berlin. By Kissinger Diktat Bismarck had formulated the basic ideas for his foreign policy.
He believed it was necessary to promote and support the aggressive tendencies among the European Great Powers, but that these tendencies should be directed towards the periphery. Consequently, at the beginning of the s German diplomats encouraged the French government to expand in Africa, hoping for conflicts between the French, Italians, and British. In the West Africa Conference took place in Berlin. Its aim was to keep conflicts arising from the scramble for Africa under the control of the Great Powers.
During this conference the participants set up certain rules for future expansion. The concept of effective control was introduced. This meant that it was no longer enough simply to plant a flag somewhere in the African soil; rather, visible institutions such as police stations, trading posts, or missions had to be established. The result was an enormous acceleration of European colonial expansion and sub-imperialism. Even territories that were of no use for European states were quickly occupied because of the fear that they would be taken by another country.
The Congo Basin became a zone of free trade under the protection of Leopold II, King of the Belgians , who established one of the most brutal and repressive colonial regimes ever seen in Africa. When Leo von Caprivi became Chancellor in , the Berlin government returned to a strictly anti-imperialist policy. A precise and concise analysis of German trade relations and capital investments worldwide showed that Germany was already an export-oriented nation and that German strength would grow even if exports were promoted by an active foreign policy.
Consequently, Caprivi initiated a policy of free trade. Treaties including the most-favored-nation clause were signed with a growing number of countries. Consequently, Caprivi was not interested in imperial expansion or in the acquisition of colonies, which would only create problems.
Until the orientation of German foreign policy remained strictly continental. During several cabinet reshuffles, more and more politicians who favored an expansionist policy reached leading positions in the state bureaucracy. Admiral Alfred von Tirpitz proclaimed that a strong battle fleet was to be built.
Emperor Wilhelm II, who had been a naval enthusiast since his youth, openly supported Tirpitz as well, and a powerful military-industrial complex Krupp grew from the armament programs.
The German battle fleet was unable to defend German overseas interests, having been built only to stop Great Britain. The German admirals were aware of the fact that a full victory in a naval battle would be impossible, but as an Anglo-German war would be too risky for Britain, she would be forced to maintain good relations with Germany and to grant colonial compensations.
The navy was thus built to put pressure on Great Britain. It also forced the British government to reduce colonial rivalries elsewhere, for example by settling differences with France. Washington dc : u. Government Printing Office Records of the u. Record Group National Archives ii. College Park md. Xu Qiqing.
Yinghang zhoubao [ The Bankers Weekly ] 6 No. Shanghai : Shanghai renmin chubanshe Adshead S. The Modernization of the Chinese Salt Administration — Cambridge ma : Harvard University Press Ahamed Liaquat.
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New York : Penguin Balachandran Gopolan. London : Curzon Brandt Loren and Sargent Thomas. Silver Purchases. Brennan John. Silver and the First New Deal. Reno : University of Nevada Press Cheng Linsun. New York : Cambridge University Press Coble Parks. The Shanghai Capitalists and the Nationalist Government — Costigliola Frank. Dai Jianbing. Beijing : Zhongguo shehui kexueyuan chubanshe Dayer Roberta Albert. Finance and Empire: Sir Charles Addis — New York : St. London : Cass Flandreau Marc Ed. London : Routledge Friedman Milton.
Roosevelt, Silver, and China. Israel Fred. Lincoln : University of Nebraska Press Ma Junya. McElderry Andrea. Nathan Andrew. Peking Politics — Factionalism and the Failure of Constitutionalism. Berkeley : University of California Press Rawski Thomas. Economic Growth in Prewar China. Rosenberg Emily. Song Peiyu. Taylor Jay. Wang Hongman. Wu Jinping. Shanghai jinrongye yu guomin zhengfu guanxi yanjiu [ Research on the Connections Between the Shanghai Financial Community and the Republican Government ].
Shanghai : Shanghai caijing daxue chubanshe Ye Shichang. Zhongguo huobi lilunshi [ History of Chinese Monetary Thought ]. Xiamen : Xiamen daxue chubanshe Young Arthur. Stanford ca : Stanford University Press Zou Xiaosheng. Shixue yuekan [ Journal of Historical Science ] 8 : 36 — Author: Austin Dean 1.
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