Colonization Essay, Research Paper
Question to be Answered in Report: How has colonialism changed the roles of Europeans of the early 1900’s or late 1800’s?One of the most famous slogans of the age of global colonizationwas: “The sun never sets on the British Empire.” As recently as 1940,world maps showed large areas colored pink, representing regions dominatedby the British. Much of Africa was pink, along with India, Malaya, HongKong, and other scattered territories in Asia and the Americas. Theexistence of an empire on which the sun never set helped instill in theindividual British citizen tremendous pride, and the need to becomepersonally a devoted imperialist. For more than 100 years, the fact thatBritain was an empire had changed the British man s life, and hadinstilled in him the fact that he was superior to most other peoplesespecially those of other colors and backgrounds. This was also the periodwhen it was felt that it was the “white man s burden” to take care of allthose countries whose inhabitants were less worthy than the whiteAnglo-Saxon. This way of thinking was called Social Darwinism. This was anag!e when even though England, in some respects, tried to act “fatherly”towards some of the countries it had seized, it still felt a strong amountof racism towards the people of those countries. In 1849, General Wolselywrote from the Gold Coast, “The Africans are like monkeys. They are agood-for-nothing race.” In 1849 Thomas Carlyle pronounced Europeans wiserthan Africans and said inferior races must obey the superior. It was anidea that by 1900 most English men and women held, one that fit thepaternalism of the governing classes and the prejudice of the lowerclasses. The Empire had created a nation of imperialists. The commercial spirit has always existed in human society. Whatwas peculiar to the nineteenth century was its “overbalance:” it becamethe “paramount principle of action in the nation at large.” Capitalism,imperialism, and colonialism were the themes of the day. A generation ofuniversity teachers, schoolmasters, clergymen, poets, journalists, andfiction writers concentrated their minds and energies on popularizing thecult of the new imperialism. The intellectual and social trends were manyand complex, ranging from Social Darwinist works like Benjamin Kidd s “TheControl of the Topics” to Kipling s poems and the racist songs of themusic halls. There was, of course, the persistent call by Christianevangelicals to go forth and convert the pagans. Continuous, too, sincethe eighteenth century, were humanitarians anxious to end slavery orprotect the aborigines. Even the nursery of the Victorian day was notclosed to imperialism. “An ABC for Baby Patriots” published in 189!9 included:C is for ColoniesRightly we boast,That of all the great nationsGreat Britain has the most. In the middle classes, the passion for wealth was closelyconnected with the desperate need for respectability. By 1880, ageneration had passed into manhood with an outlook which made them ideallysuited to govern the empire. In itself, wealth alone was hardly enough tomake a Victorian respectable. When everyone at the time was busy makingmoney and working to better themselves, someone with money who just laidback and enjoyed the pleasures of life was not a winner. It was said thatto be a merchant prince was a far finer thing than to be a gentleman. Thismeans that to be a working merchant, making a living, and getting high in
the social ladder, was a more respectable thing to be than just agentleman. Soon, every single person, no matter what age, was trying toadvance in society. “Now that a man may make money, and rise in the world,and associate himself, unreproached, with people once far above him itbecomes a veritable shame to him to remain in the state he was b!orn in, and everybody thinks it is his duty to try to be a gentleman. “See, the whole train of thought for everyone of the time, especially men,since the women were mostly housewives, was to live to better themselvesby gaining social status and respect from the higher powers. Except for “God,” the most popular word in the Victorianvocabulary must have been “work.” Capitalism was the main force behindimperialism. Capitalism had created a wealthy and powerful elite ofinvestors, traders, and manufacturers, anxious to make profits. Capitalismhad also, by its unequal distribution of wealth, given so littlepurchasing power to the workers that they could not buy all the goodsproduced. This underconsumption forced the elite to search for marketsabroad and so to persuade their government to acquire territories abroadas markets for goods, places for investment, and sources of raw materials. Millions of British citizens had emigrated, populating the dominions ruledby Britain. They had jobs ruling India, trading in China, preaching inAfrica, and making fortunes in Latin America. The border between themiddle class and the upper class could now be easily broken. Theincreasing wealth of the bourgeoisie and the decreasing wealth of thearistocracy mad!e the line that separated the classes very weak, and now anything waspossible if you worked for it. We can see that the middle class started to compete with the upperclass, as far as jobs and wealth. The lower class in England alsobenefited from the colonization and imperialism of the 1800s. Livingconditions for the poor families had improved and the numbers of povertystricken homes were shrinking. The general mass of working people hadacquired some degree of comfort. Wages had risen and prices had fallen, sothat there was a double gain which, on an artisan s income, might make agreat difference. Since there was much more trade from abroad, foreignfood was now brought in and was cheap and plentiful. Town workers werebetter fed now than before. Men could buy clothing of a better quality nowthan before. Rents were relatively low, and overall, it seems that thestandard of living for both the poor, working class, and upper middleclass had risen many degrees higher. This improvement in material welfarehelped encourage private enterprises for other basic needs of the! community. People wanted better sanitation, light, water, and power. Morejobs opened up in the pursuit of these needs. As the century ended, national loyalty reached fever pitch inBritain as it did in France and Germany, and its favorite mode ofexpression was imperialism. It touched all classes, every religious faith,all political parties. This aggressive stance was motivated by manythings; racism, greed, and the belief that it was up to the white man torule the world. My essay has tried to prove that the colonization processwithin Great Britain, during the Victorian age (1815-1914), greatlychanged the roles of men, as well as everyone else within that country swalls. By changing the way people were educated, how they lived, whattheir dreams and aspirations were, government policy, and job openings inBritain and abroad, all helped to change the role of the Victorian male.