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The Greatest Imperialistic Nation of the 19th Century

Updated on October 21, 2011

Imperialism, a term that loosely defines any nation that pursues foreign economic interests to increase capital for it's own gain. This can come in the form of cheap imports of raw material from colonies under it's control in exchange for expensive exports of manufactured goods to the various subservient regions. This was the political authority in much of the 19th century, from such countries as Great Britain, America, Spain, France, Portugal among others, but Great Britain was found superior in many ways. The British flag was raised high on various continents, dominating parts of South America, West African tribal countries, the yellow sea from china to japan and even using the eastern Australian coastline as a penal colony for malicious criminals of the worst degree. In order to demonstrate just how powerful the Britain empire was, you must consider the income from their many colonies, either from raw goods to supply the British war machine derived from agricultural products; mined ores to create the materials needed for domestic and wartime construction, and sending manufactured goods back to their colonies to gain maximum capital for future imperialistic ventures. This was not to say that their colonies fared well, the subservient colonists, mostly the local population, suffered from low wages and long hours, the taxes imposed by British tax masters suppressing the locals from gaining a foothold within their own community.

The imperial British empire influenced much of the world in the way of western values and culture, but not without resistance however, as the British displayed military oriented behaviors when needed against rebellion like acts. There was one large advantage the British had in connection to military effectiveness, and that was found in their naval superiority, their cruisers and other advanced weaponry on board their lighter vessels helped them outmaneuver their opponents when necessary. The massive British navel fleets were needed in various locations throughout the world, from overseas travel, to treacherous river navigation, all combined with superior marine infantry to help deliver the quick assaults on critical locations to end fights before they began. The British manipulation within their economic/military operations also proved very effective, a very concrete example found in the opium war with China, the British using illegal drug trafficking against Chinese policy to help weaken the economic infrastructure of China, in the process pulling the country into a war they couldn't win. The British used their naval superiority to conquer the Chinese river systems and ultimately causing the Chinese to allow the open door policy with the world as rules of their defeat.

The Industrial revolution also started in Great Britain, which was truly the starting point to their success economically, the production in textiles, books, and anything else that could be done in mass production for exports to third world countries all provided the revenue that Britain needed to provide influential dividends. Great Britain used these funds to increase their western culturethroughout the world, building educational institutions among others to provide the more fortunate colonies the opportunity to acquire a formal western education in law, the sciences, and literature. In light of all the revolutions of 1848, Great Britain managed to make the major reforms needed to conform society to a parliamentary monarchy with the middle class voice heard loudly, the reforms including education, minimum wage requirements, and the chance to join the military with major incentives to be had. In conclusion, the kingdom of Great Britain was the highest ranked nation to participate in imperialistic matters. Through cultural influence and military conquests of expansion, Great Britain has led the world affairs in a way that if the nation had never come to power, the United States and many other countries at this present time would have never existed.


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