The notes below are intended to help the
reader gain an impression as to what the British Empire was.
There is very little, if anything, original here but it still makes for good
British Empire 1920
History of Formation:
England from the very beginning was an imperialist nation. The early Medieval
English conquered or attempted to conquer Wales, Scotland, Ireland, and large
parts of France.
The English in the 1600s re-settled their own troublesome border elements from
North England and Scotland in Ulster.
Henry-7 in 1497 encouraged the exploration by John Cabot of North American
waters and developed the navy.
Meanwhile Christopher Columbus had discovered the Americas and the Jews had been
expelled from Spain. Both events took place in 1492.
The Spanish and Portuguese then began to divide the "New World" between them.
Elizabeth-1 encouraged raids by English buccaneers on Spanish shipping and
John Dee (1527-1608, consultant to Elizabeth) helped train English navigators in
astronomy etc. Dee provided ideological backing for the creation of a "British
Empire" ("a term that he was the first to use"). Under Elizabeth attempts were
made to establish colonies in North America. In the 1600s colonization in North
America continued and also in the Caribbean (West Indies etc).
In 1665 Britain took Jamaica from the Spanish and in 1666 colonized the Bahamas.
Since the time of James-1 the Scottish and English crowns had been united but
formal government was separate. The Scottish attempted (the Darien Scheme) to
establish a colony in Panama. This failed and brought the Scottish economy to
the verge of bankruptcy. For this and other reasons the Scottish agreed to the
1707 Acts of Union that formally unified the governments of Scotland and
England. # the Scottish establishment realised
that it could never be a major power on its own and that if it wanted to share
the benefits of England's international trade and the growth of the English
Empire, then its future would have to lie in unity with England. # Wikipedia.
Welsh traditions had dreamt of a future world Empire. A similar case may hold
for Scotland. It was self-evident that without England this would never be
possible. It was through union with England that the Welsh and Scottish were to
realize their destiny.
The British, East India Company (1600), and the Dutch East India Company (1602)
were created to challenge the Portuguese monopoly of trade with the east. There
were rivalries and wars with Holland. The Dutch initially had the upper hand.
When the ruler of the Netherlands, William of Orange, became King of England in
1668 a division was worked out whereby the Dutch received spices and the English
trade in textiles. At that time spices were more profitable but were soon
eclipsed in importance by the textile trade.
The War of the Spanish Succession (1701-1714) found England, Portugal the
Netherlands, and the Holy Roman Empire aligned against France and Spain. This
resulted in England receiving from France, Newfoundland and Acadia (Canada),
and from Spain, Gibraltar and Minorca. Minorca was returned to Spain in 1802.
Spain also ceded to Britain permission to sell slaves in Spanish America.
Wars against France gave Britain Quebec and an open hand in India. Florida was
taken from Spain.
India was conquered in stages.
Meanwhile the American colonies had grown and had begun to expand on their own
initiative. The American War of Independence in 1776 ended with the creation of
the USA. Many loyalists moved to Canada.
In 1770 Captain James Cook explored the east coast of Australia. This led to
the establishment of penal colonies. The first was in Botany Bay (Sydney, New
South Wales) in 1788. The wool industry based on the Merino sheep from Spain
quickly developed. Australia was to become the major producer of wool in the
world. Gold was also discovered in the late 1800s and prospectors arrived from
Europe and the Americas.
Melbourne, the capital of Victoria, in the south became the richest city in the
world and the second largest city (London was the largest) in the British Empire.
In this period, the islands of New Zealand were settled. This was accompanied by
wars with the native Maoris. The Maoris are a Polynesian people similar to the
natives of Hawai.
The wars against Napoleon ended with Britain receiving from France and Spain
islands in the Mediterranean (e.g. Malta), the West Indies, along
with places in South America and Indonesia etc control of which was later
relinquished. Ceylon was received from Holland.
In 1833 slavery was abolished in the British Empire. This was later accompanied
by attempts to suppress slavery everywhere.
British naval activities against the slave trade confirmed British status
internationally as ruler of the seas.
British world-wide naval and international dominance was known as "Pax
Brittanica"i.e. "The Peace of Britain". The steamship and telegraph strengthened British control.
In South Africa an amalgamation of Dutch, German, and French Huguenot settlers
with some "Cape Colored" additions resulted in the creation of the Boer nation.
The British had for strategic reasons taken control of Cape Colony in 1795. This
was followed by increased control and the arrival of British settlers. Gold and
diamonds were discovered. New immigrants arrived. Fiction with the Boers
followed. A series of wars led to the British rule over all of South Africa. The
last of these wars involved the incarceration of women and children (families of
Boer guerilla fighters) in camps where many died due to the bad conditions and accompanying sickness. This is one of
the stains on the British Empire.
In 1875 Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli, on his own initiative, acquired the
Suez Canal. He also got Cyprus.
Disraeli had Queen Victoria receive the official title "Empress of India".
He did much to legitimize and enhance the prestige and ideological basis of British Imperialism.
Much of East Africa was also occupied.
Britain (1845-1870) had 2% per cent of the world's population, 30 % of global GDP, 20% of world trade, 40% of world manufacturing trade.
The USA equaled Britain in most fields by 1870 and surpassed it in the 1880s.
In 1860 Britain produced 53% of world's iron (# then a sign of supreme industrial strength #); in 1914 less than 10%.
In 1914 Britain however was the world financial capital. Returns from overseas investments masked its economic decline.
After World War-1 (1914-1918) Britain acquired control of Palestine, Transjordan,
Iraq, parts of Cameroon and Togo, and Tanganyika. The Dominions themselves also
acquired mandates of their own: South-West Africa (modern-day Namibia) was given
to the Union of South Africa, Australia gained German New Guinea, and New
Zealand Western Samoa.
Palestine was made a Mandatory territory by the League of Nations and Britain
was charged with establishing a Jewish National Home in Palestine. The British
record in Palestine endured several changes and was checkered with good and bad
points. On the whole, from the Jewish point of view the balance was very
favorable despite claims to the contrary.
World War-1 had led to significant addition in territory. It also resulted in
the USA taking its place as the World Power.
In 1922 the Washington Naval Treaty, established British naval parity with the
Trouble in Ireland ended with creation of the Irish Free Republic.
World War-2 resulted in the paramountcy of the USA being confirmed and Britain
agreeing to abandon its imperial role.
Method of Acquisition:
A British Imperialistic ideology had existed. It was never fully developed and
reached a wide-spread popular acceptance only in its later stages.
Very often colonies were acquired as a result of conflicts or individual
initiatives. British Governments were not always happy with the result. They
could be apprehensive of increased costs and obligations and troubles with the
British Empire 1920s
The historian J. R . Seeley made the famous comment: 'We seem, as it were, to have conquered
and peopled half the world in a fit of absence of mind.' The British were relatively speaking humane and respected human dignity.
This is especially apparent when compared to all other attempts to Imperialism
e.g. France, Germany, Belgium, Japan (in Korea), Russia, etc.
In many cases (as N. Ferguson notes) it was not an alternative between British
Rule and independence but rather between British Rule and rule by somebody else.
Some Negative Points: Historical: Ireland.
The British rule of Ireland was not as enlightened as it should
have been. Attempts were made to suppress Irish language and culture.
Complete union may have been preferable. In the Irish Great Famine (1845-1852) a
quarter (perhaps more, the figures are debated) of the population died as a
result of failure of the potato crop. The British handling of the situation was
insufficient and in some respects criminal.
South Africa: In the South African War Boer women and children were placed
(1900-1902) in concentration camps. Over 26,000 died due to
inadequate shelter, poor diet, insufficient hygiene, overcrowding, malnutrition,
and endemic contagious diseases such as measles, typhoid and dysentery. This is
where the term "concentration camp" originated. Nazi propaganda was later to
make much of this incident. The Germans were to claim that their own
concentration camps were merely following British Precedent.
Chinese Opium Wars (1839-1842 and
The British had disputes with China over trading rights, spheres of influence,
treatment of foreigners, etc. British merchants also invested heavily in the
Opium trade. Opium is a dangerous highly-addictive drug. [It is the source of heroin.] The Chinese tried to regulate or terminate this trade. Wars
resulted. China lost and capitulated on many points but regulation of the trade
was delivered into Chinese hands. The whole
episode was morally wrong.
There were other bad marks on British Rules such as the Amritsar Massacre (1919) in which British troops fired on a demonstation of unarmed civilians killing between 379 to a 1000.
Nevertheless many of these happenings need to be considered in the context of the time and circumstance.
Compared to what prevailed elsewhere and in the same places beforehand (and afterwards) the British did quite well.
Palestine: In Palestine the British on the whole helped the Jews much more than the
Nevertheless, there existed anti-Jewish elements in the local British
administration and in British Governmental circles.
This had negative effects.
There were variations in policy and attitude. This can lead to conflicting impressions.
Despite everything the British helped enormously in the creation of the State of
We have spoken of this in our work, "The Tribes", and hope to discuss it at
greater length at a later date.
Achievements: Positive Points.
# The British Empire spread the English language as a truly international tongue helping to bring
together peoples of every nation.
# Gave rise to the United States, Canada,
Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, as well as a host of smaller nations
within this great backbone of liberty and democracy. Anastasia
# India was united; one language; human sacrifice abolished, suttee
(widow-burning) forbidden, population increased at least tenfold alongside great
improvements in relative health, wealth, and safety.
# The dissolution of the Empire was done relatively smoothly when compared the
French in Indochina, Algeria, etc.
## The British Empire was also a huge
exporter of capital, building roads, railways and industries all over the earth,
to great benefit to local economies, as indeed was the introduction of a system
of education. Administrators sent out from England were generally scrupulously
fair, bringing government and order to places that often had neither the one nor
the other. Anastasia Fitzgerald-Beaumont ##
## The system of English common law was
another of our exports, still used and valued across much of the world, as
indeed was the parliamentary system of government and the economic model of
free-trade capitalism. Anastasia Fitzgerald-Beaumont ##
See also: Naill
Ferguson's Empire: How Britain Made the Modern World.
[We ourselves have not yet read this work but numerous laudatory articles make
reference to it.]
Economically the British Empire provided a world market for the regulated
exchange of goods and services, the development and shipment of raw materials,
incentives to progress, prosperity, public health, law and order, and education.
The British Empire enabled overseas investment not only in British colonies but
also in the USA and many parts of Latin America e.g. Argentina who owe much of
their initial development (railways etc) to British investments.
The existence of the British Empire with its manpower, resources, and global
extent, and strategic domination of key "gates" enabled the defeat of Germany in
World Wars 1 and 2.
Ferguson tells us that, "Britain was also the world's banker...[with]..between
two-fifths and a half of all foreign-owned assets. ...No other major economy has
ever held such a large proportion of its assets overseas. More British capital
was invested in the Americas than in Britain itself between 1865 and 1914."
The British promoted free trade everywhere: ## Free trade with the developing world
suited Britain. With her huge earnings from overseas investment, not forgetting
other 'invisibles' such as insurance and shipping, she could afford to import
vastly more than she exported. Moreover, the terms of trade, the relationship
between export and import prices, moved by around 10 per cent in Britain's
between 1870 and 1914.## Naill
Great Britain set the gold standard as the basis for currency. This became
internationally accepted whereas previously it had not been.
(1859-1925, Viceroy of India and British Foreign Secretary: "the British Empire
is under Providence the greatest instrument for good that the world has seen".
Jan Smuts (South Africa 1870-1950,
military general in World Wars 1 and 2, and later Prime Minister of South
Africa): "the widest system of
organised human freedom which has
ever existed in human history".
## the fact remains that no organisation
in history has done more to promote the free movement of goods, capital and
than the British Empire in the 19th and early 20th centuries. And no organisation
has done more to impose Western norms of law, order and governance around the
world. For much (though certainly not all) of its history, the British Empire
acted as an agency for relatively incorrupt government. Prima facie, there
therefore seems a plausible case that empire enhanced global welfare, in other
words, was a Good Thing.## Naill
Why we ruled the world
http://www.niallferguson.com/site/ FERG/Templates/ArticleItem .aspx?pageid=167
Prepared the Way for the USA!
The British Empire was also a partner with the USA in enforcing the Monroe Doctrine that lessended European influence in the Americas. The British Empire
in many ways helped the development of the USA. It also partnered (and Britain still does) the USA in allowing and facilitating the establishment of American paramount power in the modern world.
American influence and international economic domination in some respects is built over the precedent
and substructure of the British Empire. It may be said that though very different outwardly the British and American "Empires" overlapped and that the trasnition from British dominance to that of the USA was almost seamless.
The New York Times (1897) on behalf of the USA said:
# "We are a part, and a great part, of the greater Britain which seems so plainly destined to dominate this planet". #
Fareed Zakaria ("The Post-American World", 2008) draws parallels between Britain as compared to the USA: Britain did not resist the rise of the USA but rather acceded to it.
# It was a strategic masterstroke.# Fareed 177
Ephraim was predicted to become in Hebrew 'Malao ha-Goyim' (Genesis 48:19) translated
as 'A MULTITUDE OF NATIONS' but literally meaning 'fullness of the peoples' . Ephraim (according to Rabbinical Commentators) was to rule over the nations or literally determine the very existence of other nations. This was fulfilled through the British Empire. It is a proof that the British are Ephraim.
The British Empire once ruled over about 25% of the world's population. Many nations that exist in the world today only came into being thanks to British rule and tutelage.
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