Colonialism: Nineteenth-Century Mercantilism And Modern Imperialism

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Imperialism can be roughly defined as the forcible imposition of one country’s rule on the unwilling inhabitants of another. Between 1870 and the outbreak of WWI, nearly ¼ of the Earth’s surface was controlled by small, European nations. Nations such as Japan and the United States would follow suit in pursuing their own territorial gains. What all these nations held in common was a heritage of nationalism and expansive industrialization. They commanded large governments and oversaw vast amounts of wealth and firepower that were beyond the holdings of the nations they sought to control. Modern Imperialism was effectively a lopsided game that pitted “primitive” peoples against unimaginable superpowers. While modern imperialism was in many ways like the eighteenth-century mercantilism and colonialism of old. Modern imperialism was different in the fact that imperial powers set out to not only exploit their colonial holdings, but also transform and “westernize” the societies under their control. (Kennedy 596) Imperialists justified their occupation of less developed societies through righteous slogans and beliefs. Claiming that they were “civilizing the savages of backwards lands”, such as the British professed to shouldering the “white man’s burden.” Other…show more content…
As maturing industrial economies began exhausting economic growth at home, the need for reliable sources of materials and products such as cotton and tea. By the 1890s, imperialist nations saw the economic benefit of colonies in the production of inexpensive raw materials for domestic manufacturing. Because of the resources made available by imperialism, the world’s economy significantly and Europe was quickly becoming the center of manufacturing and economic growth. But quite simply, acquiring colonies became a symbol of power status, especially as Europe pushed into the African continent in the

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