African Colonziation In The 19th Centrury Essay

This essay has a total of 3686 words and 14 pages.


African Colonziation In The 19th Centrury




British Empire
Second Analysis Paper

British expansion during the late 19th century primarily focused around the scramble for
Africa. Although there had been a British and greater European presence in Africa prior
to the last two decades of the 19th century it was primarily coastal and revolved around
the slave trade. With the abolition of the slave trade within the British Empire in 1803
and a complete abolition of slavery across the empire in 1834 there was little interest in
Africa by Britain until the end of the century. This lack of interest in Africa did not
include The Cape Colony though, which the British gained at the end of the Napoleonic Wars
and which served a key role in outfitting ships on the British trade route to India. The
role and importance of Africa to the British soon changed though do to imperial
competition with France and Germany. Germany under the aggressive policies of Bismarck set
out to take a leading role in Africa and catch up to other European powers such as Britain
and France in terms of empire by gaining new control over territory and expanding their
spheres of influence. Other important factors made Africa the hot spot for British and
European expansion including the discovery of gold in the Transvaal and diamonds in the
Orange Free State, the palm oil industry in Nigeria, scientific discoveries such as the
way to treat malaria, and the mapping and exploration of the previously mysterious African
interior early in the 19th century. In order to explore the nature of British expansion
in Africa Porterís The Lionís Share and T.O. Lloyds The British Empire 1558-1995 are
indispensable texts. Using their information on British expansion throughout Africa as a
foundation it becomes possible to break down the period of greatest growth between 1880
and 1900 by analyzing British role in Africa prior to 1880, the external roles that
competitors such as Germany and France had in forcing Englandís imperial hand coupled with
the internal economic drives for procuring areas of Africa, and the special case and
significance of the Cape Colony and British Afrikaner relations.

Britainís early presence in Africa was exclusive to Sierra Leone, Gambia, The Gold Coast
and The Cape Colony. They gained control of these areas in the late 18th or early 19th
centuries. It is not until the 1860ís that Britain and other European powers began to
assert themselves in terms of gaining African territory making treaties. The scramble for
Africa really has its beginnings in the late 1860ís but does not began to fully take off
until the 1880ís when Britain, Germany, France, and to a smaller degree Italy begin to
stake their claims. Britainís previous African expansion had been very different then it
would be in Africa during the scramble. The early British territories were either in
primarily un-inhabited coastal regions or they had been gained from other European powers
that had previously established sound control of territory such as with France in regard
to The Cape Colony. Britainís attitude toward African expansion according to Porter
doesnít really change in the last two decades of the 19th century from its long held
overall view of keeping Africa on a shoestring. What Porter does suggest though is that
Itís actions change radically though because of newly discovered economic opportunities
and a need to respond to the actions other European powers. Although economic influence
and foreign pressure created a reason for British expansion in the last two decades it is
key to look at the small ways the British built a foundation for expansion starting in the
1850ís and 1860ís. For example David Livingstonís exploration in Africa and the resulting
publicity in the Victorian media opened Englandís eyes in regards to Africa. He was most
effective in creating interest by awakening Victorian morality concerning the still active
slave trade occurring in east Africa. Lloyd points this out by stating,

Interest in the eastern coast of Africa and its hinterland had been growing in the 1850ís.
David Livingston had caught the public attention with his accounts of his explorations
and his reminder that a slave trade on the east coast was still taking a great many slaves
across the Indian Ocean to the Arab world. When he said that he was going back to Africa
to make an open road for commerce and for Christianity he meant that unless a natural
alternative was provided the slave trade was bound to go on (Lloyd, p. 182).


Livingston was an icon to remind the British of Africa but his role alone did not fully
set the foundation for later British growth in Africa. African expansion hadnít
particularly been considered by because it wasnít viable do to high mortality rates caused
by malaria and other tropical diseases and the lack of geographic knowledge of the African
hinterland. These piece of the foundation started to come together though in the 1850ís
and 1860ís to combined with Livingstonís publicizing of Africa to build the base that
would support the rapid expansion the would develop in the 1880ís and 1890ís. Lloyd also
discusses the importance of medical and geographic advance with the following,

Other explorers were putting together pieces of the map of east Africa, though at the time
of Livingstonís death in 1873 the intricacies of the system of lakes and rivers had still
not been worked out, and any politicians rash enough to think of taking an interest in the
African interior would have found it hard to know where they were going. Advances inland
were becoming a little more practicable because of advances in technology; People had
known for centuries that quinine was a useful drug for tropical diseases, but it was
really not until an expedition up the river Niger in 1854 succeeded in keeping its death
rate very low by laying down that everybody must take a regular dose of quinine that the
drugs value comprehensive value for preventative purposes was accepted (Lloyd, p. 182).


Lloyd makes the important statement that careless behavior in exploring or expanding in
Africa was not a sound choice even as of Livingstonís death denoting the lack of interest
Porter believes present prior to and through the much scramble for Africa in terms of the
British governments desire for expansion in Africa. All the same Livingstonís publicity
and the work of other explorers and the use of quinine certainly contribute to the
availability for British expansion in Africa by the 1880ís.

As the 1880ís arrived and the stage was being set for African expansion Lloyd additionally
notes the impact of Social Darwinian thought on Europeís imperial powers. Social Darwinism
of this period is generally understood as the idea that the strong have the moral right to
rule over the weak. This concept is influential in the motivation to expand into Africa.
The scramble for Africa primarily starts as French and German policies of expansion become
apparent. It is important to make note though that the British government as of 1880 was
lead by the anti-expansionist sentiments of Gladstone who came into office trying to deal
with the imperial entanglements that the previous conservative government failed to clean
up. The need to resolve conflicts in Africa began in Egypt in regards primarily to the
Suez Canal. Egyptian mismanagement of the economy and military and a continually more
strained relationship France who had held considerable sway since the Napoleonic era in
Egypt created an opportunity for England to become more important in Egyptian affairs
which the English desired because of the importance of the Suez Canal as an eastern trade
route (Porter, p. 92-93). The situation in Egypt continued to worsen as France played
less of a role because of concerns with Germany and with the debts mounting and the
abdication of Khedive Ismail in 1879 something had to be done in order to bail out Egypt
and preserve control over the Suez Canal. The British for the economic reasons attached
with the canal stepped in and bought out the Egyptian shares in the Canal to help cancel
some of the Egyptians debts. The debts were still not able to appropriately managed and
rebellion broke out because of the wretched economy and the European presence in Egypt.
At this point Britain was un-encumbered as France was with major concerns about Germany
decide to go in and occupy Egypt so as to ensure the canal and bring about order. Lloyd
highlights his take on the situation, which is also reminiscent of Porterís,

Gladstone and his government were left with the problems of an acquisition that they had
never intended to make, a difficulty that occurred in several other places (Lloyd p.205).


When Lloyd states that this occurred in other places he is making reference to Sudan as
well as other areas of Africa. Sudan is important though because with Britainís
occupation in Egypt so came Sudan as the Khedives had been occupying it. Potter describes
in greater detail,

Not only was it difficult to leave Egypt, it was also difficult to avoid being dragged in
further Ė into the Sudan, for example, where the Khedives authority was being subverted by
a national religious rebellion under Ďthe mahdií, and which he Khedive desperately wanted
to win back. The British government believed that Egypt could not afford such a project
in her present financial state: but it was not easy to persuade the Khedive so, or the
press, or public opinion in Britain (Porter, p. 95).


There were difficulties involving Sudan and the Egyptian military presence there and so it
did not really come under British control until 1898. The Sudan also became more
important because of French activity to the west and fear that France desired to reclaim
Egypt by encroaching on the Sudan and moving, north, as there became greater French
hostility and resentment over the loss of Egypt and more importantly the Suez Canal to
Britain. France disputed Britainís presence in Egypt up until 1904.

Along with Egypt and Sudan Britain soon came to similar situations in Nigeria, Uganda, and
Kenya. The British had been present in Nigeria since the middle of the 19th century with
many small companies involved in the palm oil and coco industries in 1879 these small
companies were merged together through the leadership of George Goldie producing The Royal
Niger Company. As other European powers began to encroach in on the area controlled by The
Royal Niger Company Goldie requested favors from the imperial government to prevent the
loss of Nigeria. France was moving east from Senegal. Germany gained control of Togoland
and The Cameroons just to the south. The Belgians were making claims in the Congo to the
southeast leaving Nigeria surrounded by other European powers. The problem primarily
arose because Goldieís company lacked a charter and had no real treaties with the tribes
in Nigeria. As the encroachment became more severe Goldie gained a charter in 1886
granting his company the powers of government. Goldieís administration turned out to be a
success following the granting of a charter as The Royal Niger Company promptly went out
and procured treaties with the principal rulers of the area staking claim and effectively
limiting the further growth of their neighbors. The situation of the Royal Niger Company
once again highlights Gladstone and his anti-expansionist policy being manipulated and
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