Imperialism Essay, Research Paper
In the late 19th century, imperialism was a major issue in many nations of the world. Imperialism is the extension of a nation’s power due to the acquiring of territory or economic conditions through military force or political means. Countries revived the imperialistic movement because the need of raw materials and labor for industrial purposes was so great. Also, the countries wanted to increase their overall wealth and trade. Christianity gained power due to this imperialistic movement of the Western world. Missionaries became rampant in lands that had been acquired by countries of the Western world.
The primary reasons that imperialism succeeded during this time were the technological and military advances of this time period. Uncivilized countries could not compete with the artillery and military prowess of the Western world. Latin America became subject to imperialism due to the poor economic conditions of its countries. The Middle East experienced the movement because of the decline of such vast areas as the Ottoman Empire and Turkey. The Western world gained control of Africa through trading companies from Great Britain, France, and Germany.
Many countries gained territories during this period of imperialism. Persia was divided between Great Britain and Russia, and Britain also seized Burma and Malaya. The Dutch gained control of the majority of the archipelago of Indonesia. In Asia, Britain still had control of India. Japan took the area of Formosa from China, which was saved as a whole from the imperialistic powers because the United States intervened and no country wanted the other to have the advantage of possessing China. Japan defeated Russia for the control of Manchuria.
Many factors gave the West an advantage over the rest of the world. Vaccines were developed. Telegraphs became essential tools of communication. The steamboat and railroad drastically reduced transportation costs for materials. Machine guns allowed countries of the Western world to simply mow down the competition.
The Europeans used these technological advancements to make the assumption that their race was far more superior to those of races other than Caucasian. Yet not all Europeans believed this way. Some wanted to educate the races of other nations and believed that it was the duty of the Western world because of their intelligence and knowledge. This idea became known as the White Man’s Burden.
Citizens of nations were very supportive of imperialism until their governments were faced with the great costs of this movement. Many people began criticizing the governments of their nations. This led the countries to making public statements to justify the need for these colonies that had depleted such large amounts of public tender.
Some countries did indeed become wealthy as a result of this movement. For the most part, though, the losses far outweighed the gains. Many of the colonies that had been acquired by countries held no real value of any kind. Due to the small amounts of natural resources and raw materials, the profits from some of these colonies was almost nonexistent.
Was this imperialistic movement a direct cause of World War I? No, but many results of this movement helped to influence the setup of the war. Territorial wars and new agreements caused tension between many of the European countries. Even though it wasn’t a direct cause of the war, it influenced the way it was fought, as well as the outcome, drastically.