The Age of Nationalism and Imperialism summary and notes



The Age of Nationalism and Imperialism summary and notes


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The Age of Nationalism and Imperialism summary and notes


Unit 6 - The Age of Nationalism and Imperialism, 1850-1914  

Honors World History                        Dutchtown High School




Ideas like nationhood and popular sovereignty threatened and scared conservatives.

Louis Napoleon was a clever politician who understood people and the social forces at work in France. 

He united popular and conservative forces in an authoritarian government.

Napoleon won the election 5.5m to 1.5m.

a. he had the highly romanticized power of his name.

b. middle class wanted protection from socialism.

By late 1848 Napoleon had his ‘program’ ready.

Napoleon believed government should represent the people and help economically.

Since politicians represented elite groups this conflict of interest caused friction. 

The answer was an authoritarian leader.

The state and leaders had a sacred duty to stimulate the economy thus benefiting all classes.

When the National Assembly deprived almost 3 million citizens of the right to vote, Napoleon proclaimed himself the protector of universal suffrage. 

On December 1, 1851 troops loyal to Napoleon arrested opposition leaders. 

Napoleon asked the people to elect him president for 10 years to restructure the government. 

In December 1852 Napoleon asked the people to restore the old Empire – 97% said yes. 

Napoleon took the title Napoleon III.  (Napoleon I had abdicated in favor of his son Napoleon II).

He sent French troops to Rome to help restore Pope Pius IX, a move condemned by the Republicans but applauded by the Conservatives. 

These troops remained in Rome until 1870 when they were pulled back to France for the Franco-Prussian War.

Napoleon controlled the army, the police, and the he alone had the power to declare war. 

The legislative body was a mere shell, unable to introduce legislation or affect the budget they had no power.

Napoleon’s Second Empire

His greatest success was with the economy thanks in part to a global economic boom. 

The government started massive public works schemes like the construction of railroads and canals. 

He also started a program to modernize Paris.

Massive construction projects installed a sewerage system and provided an excellent public water supply, as well as gaslights to illuminate the new streets.


He widened streets to allow for the easier movement of troops and to make it harder for protestors to erect barricades. 

He encouraged industry, credit, and banking; profits soared and people enjoyed the wealth. 

But not all his actions were seen as positive.

He censored the press, prohibited free speech, and limited the right of the people to assemble.

The Crimean War (1854-1856)

The major issue that concerned the European powers was who would benefit from the demise of the sick old man of Europe? 

The Russians, with close religious ties between the Russian and Greek Orthodox Churches had more than a passing interest in the region. 

Austria wanted to gain control of the Balkans. 

Britain and France both shared economic concerns about the eastern Mediterranean Sea.

In 1853, Russia demanded the right to protect Christian shrines in Palestine – Turkey refused.

On October 4, 1853, Turkey declared war on Russia. 

In March 1854 Britain and France declared war on Russia. 

The Russian believed that they could count on the support of the Austrians (Russia had helped Austria suppress the revolution of 1849). 

Unfortunately for Russia, Austria chose to stay neutral.

In 1855 Britain and France attacked the Crimean Peninsula. 

The fighting was limited as both sides had to deal with atrocious conditions, disease, and incompetent leadership. 

Early in 1856 Tsar Alexander II sued for peace.

The war had destroyed the Concert of Europe. 

Russia had been humiliated and was forced to retreat from European affairs. 

Britain also turned away from European affairs and focused on her empire.

Austria was a Great Power, but without a friend. 

The only country that actually seemed to gain anything by the war was France. 

But even Napoleon was realistic enough to see that he was not the great general his uncle had been.

The Second Empire had two very distinct parts:

1851-1860 with direct and absolute control by the Emperor.

1860-1870 when the empire was liberalized by a series of sweeping reforms. 

By 1860 public opposition was mounting.  Napoleon ever sensitive to public opinion, softened his stance and started speaking about liberalizing his empire. 

He allowed the working class the right to form unions and strike, and restricting church control over education.

In 1870 Napoleon was given a further vote of confidence in another plebiscite, but all was not well. 

While successful at home, these liberal changes in France were a means of covering up the Emperor's failed foreign polices. 

French involvement in Algeria, Mexico, Indo-China, and the Crimean War (1854-1856) all increased criticism of Napoleon III and his government. 

The Second Empire collapsed after the capture of Napoleon III during the disastrous Franco-Prussian War (1870-1871).


Had been reorganized by the Congress of Vienna. 

The rich northern provinces were given to Austria. 

Sardinia and Piedmont were ruled by an Italian monarch, while central Italy was ruled by the Pope. 

By 1848 the idea of a unified Italy appealed to more people, especially with the collapse of the Concert of Europe.

In 1850 the Austrians controlled much of Italy and with the failure of the earlier revolutionary movement, nationalists would need to find another way to unite the country. 

There were two main options:

The Risorgimento movement led by Guiseppe Mazzini wanted a centralized democratic republic based on the will of the people.

Catholic priest Vincenzo Gioberti wanted a federation of existing states under the presidency of the pope.

During the earlier struggles against the Austrians one state had emerged as a willing leader. 

The leader of the Piedmont, King Charles Albert, although defeated had at least emerged as a person who might emerge as a true leader. 

In 1849, Piedmont’s monarch Victor Emmanuel (r. 1849-1878) retained a liberal constitution, civil liberties, real parliament, and elections.

Piedmont had been led by the brilliant politician Count Camillo Benso di Cavour (1810-1861), who supported the doctrines of the middle class. 

He was a moderate national and an aristocratic liberal who favored a constitutional government. 

Cavour realized Piedmont needed an ally to push Austria out of Lombardy and Venetia and then unify northern Italy under Victor Emmanuel.

He sought the help of Napoleon III and made a secret alliance against Austria, because Napoleon III believed this would give him the opportunity to gain control of much of Italy. 

In April 1859 he succeeded in provoking Austria to attack Piedmont.

Napoleon came to Cavour’s aid.

The French defeated the Austrians at Magenta and Solferino. 

On July 11, 1859, after the victories, Napoleon left Cavour and joined the Austrians and signed a separate peace at Villafranca in 1859. 

He probably realized that the Austrians were more formidable than he first assumed and heard that the Prussians were preparing to join the Austrians. 

Piedmont only received Lombardy and parts of Milan.

Cavour resigned in rage. 

Slowly, after the departure of Cavour, nationalist fervor overtook the masses. 

The nationalist leaders of other Italian states called for joining Piedmont.

Cavour returned to power in 1860, as the people of central Italy overwhelmingly voted to join Piedmont. 

Napoleon III received Nice and Savoy for agreeing to the annexation of the other states by Piedmont.

For patriots like Guiseppi Garibaldi (1807-1882) the job of uniting Italy was only half done. 

Secretly Cavour supported Garibaldi’s plan to liberate the Kingdoms of the Two Sicilies.  

Garibaldi’s Red Shirts (so-called because of their distinctive shirts) captured the imagination of the people as they moved northward through the peninsula. 

More and more states in the south voted to join Piedmont. 

Rather than fight Cavour in a civil war, Garibaldi retired to his farm.

The new kingdom of Italy was declared on March 17, 1861, was neither radical nor democratic but through diplomacy, war, and rebellion it was united. 

It was a parliamentary monarchy under Victor Emmanuel - however huge economic gap between the north and south. 

In 1864 Pope Pius IX issued the Syllabus of Errors denouncing rationalism, socialism, and separation of church and state. 

In reality he was denouncing all modern trends.

Venice would join Italy in 1866 as a result of the Austro-Prussian War, Rome would be added in 1870 when the French troops would return to France for the Franco-Prussian War.


After the failure of unification in 1848-1850 two states dominated the German Confederation: Austria and Prussia. 

Prussia had created the Zollverein in 1834 to promote economic growth, by 1853 all the German states except Austria were part of the economic union. 

Austria tried to destroy the Zollverein by getting southern German states to leave.

But the middle class found economic reasons to seek unification and viewed Prussia differently.

After 1848 Prussia wrote a constitution which gave the appearance of granting power to a constitutional monarchy. 

The reality was that voting was based on taxes – the people who paid the most taxes possessed the greatest influence. 

The problems in Italy worried the Germans and at the same time war with Austria and/or France seemed possible.

In 1861 King Frederick William IV died and was replaced by King William I of Prussia (r. 1861-1888). 

Upon ascending to the throne William pushed for military reforms including three years compulsory service for all men.

However, reforms meant a higher defense budget and more taxes. 

The liberal middle class wanted society to be less militaristic with power in the parliament not the king. 

Consequently, Parliament rejected the budget request of 1862 and conservatives lost control of parliament.

William asked Count Otto von Bismarck to form a new ministry to defy parliament.

Bismarck was born into the Prussian landowning aristocracy, a member of the Junker class, fiercely supportive of the sovereign, and distrustful of socialism.

Bismarck’s goal was make Prussia a Great Power through military strength.

One of his famous quotes sums up his philosophy, “one must always have two irons in the fire”.

Bismarck was convinced Prussia had to dominate Protestant northern Germany and saw three paths:

a) Work with Austria to divide up the smaller states between them.

b) Combine with a foreign power against Austria.

c) Use German nationalism to expel Austria.

Bismarck is considered the prime example of a politician who utilized realpolitik – the “politics of reality”. 

He resubmitted the budget to parliament appealing to the liberals that Germany must be ruled with “blood and iron”. 

Once again parliament rejected the budget.

Bismarck declared government would rule without parliamentary consent, which he did from 1862 to 1866.


Bismarck unsuccessfully pursued vendetta against independent sources of power outside his authority, such as the Catholic church.

Austro-Prussian War, 1866

Bismarck waged three wars. 

In reality his successes owe as much to his diplomatic and political skills as to military tactics. 

Bismarck always manipulated the situation to ensure that Prussia was only fighting one enemy at a time. 

In 1863 contrary to international law, the Danish king tried again to annex Schleswig-Holstein. 

Both of these areas had large numbers of German speaking people.

German nationalists were outraged. 

The German Confederation urged the German states to send troops against Denmark.

Bismarck persuaded Austria to join Prussia and to declare war on Denmark.

In a few weeks the Danes surrendered and Prussia gained Schleswig while Austria gained Holstein. 

Bismarck knew that this would afford him ample opportunity to go to war, with a legitimate reason, against Austria.

Bismarck knew a war with Austria would only be a localized war. 

He contacted Tsar Alexander of Russia who agreed to stay neutral because Prussia had supported Russian claims to Poland. 

Next he contacted France and Napoleon promised neutrality in return for a vague promise of territory.

The Austro-Prussian war of 1866 lasted only seven weeks. 

The reorganized Prussian army defeated the Austrians at the Battle of Sadowa in Bohemia and was forced to concede defeat. 

Bismarck offered Austria generous peace terms, realizing that he would need Austrian help in the future and not wanting to alienate himself.

The German Confederation was dissolved and Austria withdrew from German affairs

The Catholic states in the south remained independent, but formed alliances with Prussia. 

Bismarck created a North German Confederation - each state had local government, but ruled by the king of Prussia and with voting rights extended to all working class. 

Outvote middle class liberals.

William I and Bismarck controlled the army and foreign affairs, but in truth it was Bismarck who was running the country. 

Every time the king disagreed with his minister Bismarck threatened to resign and the king was forced to back down. 

The middle class seeing benefits bowed to Bismarck’s nationalism and the monarchy.

By 1867 Prussia controlled all of northern Germany and Austria was excluded from any major role in German policy. 

Bismarck knew that France was never going to accept a situation in Europe in which Germany was superior to France. 

Also, Napoleon needed a victory to gain support for his faltering regime. 

Bismarck realized that war with France would force other German state into his arms and create a unified Germany.

Franco-Prussian War, 1870-71

The issue was if a distant relative of William I might become king of Spain.

The French could not afford for an ally of Germany to occupy the Spanish throne and thereby potentially surround France with enemies. 

The objections of the French caused William to withdraw the nomination of Prince Leopold, a distant relative.

The French demanded an apology from the Germans. 

Bismarck received a telegram for the king from the king informing him of the French request.

Bismarck altered the wording to make it appear as if the king was insulting the French. 

In 1870 French leaders of the Second Republic decided to teach Bismarck and the upstart Germans a lesson.

Just a Bismarck had predicted, once war was declared the southern German states joined Bismarck. 

On September 1, 1870 Prussia defeated France at Sedan.

French patriots in Paris proclaimed another republic and vowed to continue fighting.

However, by January 1871 a starving Paris was forced to surrender.

Paris Commune:

Purpose -

Creation of Paris as an autonomous commune separate from France.

City felt betrayed by monarchists in the National assembly, and anarchists and socialists exploited the chaos of defeat by Prussia to establish a radical regime.

Suppressed violently.

William I was proclaimed Emperor of Germany in the Hall of Mirrors, Versailles.

The war was seen as a struggle of Darwinism and released a surge of patriotism in Germany. 

In ten years Germany had become the most powerful country in Europe.

Modernization of Russia

In the 1850s Russia was a poor agricultural society, 90% of the people lived off the land and serfdom was still a basic institution. 

The Russian government had avoided revolution in the 1840s, but there was always a simmering of discontent. 

The disastrous Crimean War proved to many Russians that they still lagged hopelessly behind the rest of Europe. 

Russia needed new railroads, better weapons, and a reorganized army if she was going to compete with the other European powers. 

The realist Tsar Alexander II had ascended to the throne in the middle of the war and he knew that Russia needed to be reformed.

Alexander’s initiative marked a turning point for Russia and the start of the Great Reform. 

Taking responsibility himself he told serf owners reform needed to come from above. 

His first major reform was on March 3, 1861 to emancipate the serfs.

However, emancipation did not solve all the problems, since the peasants still had no land of their own.

The government bought land and then sold it to the peasants who paid back the government through long-term loans. 

Since the government could not risk the peasants defaulting on their loans, each peasant was responsible to his own village commune (mir). 

The mir was responsible for payment to the government for all the peasants in their commune.

The government hoped collectivism would create unity, but in reality it made it hard to progress. 

In 1864 the Alexander established the zemstvo to run local government and give the people a degree of self-government. 

Members of a local assembly were elected by a three-class system of townspeople, peasants, and noble landowners. 

Since the system was property-based the nobles, once again, gained the advantage. 

Alexander’s reform of the legal system was far more successful. 

Courts were reformed, equality of law was established, education was liberalized, and censorship relaxed. 

Still some people thought that the changes were not enough or fast enough and they agitated for greater changes. 

One of these groups known as the People’s Will assassinated Alexander in 1881. 

His son and the next monarch, Alexander III (r. 1881-1894) turned away from reform and reintroduced the old, repressive means of controlling the people.

Austrian Empire

The Habsburg monarchy had been very successful in crushing the revolutions of 1848. 

The only concession the monarch made was to emancipate the serfs on September 7, 1848. 

Alexander von Bach created a unified system of taxes, laws, and administration, all implemented by German speaking officials. 

After the defeat in the war against Italy in 1859, Emperor Francis Joseph (r. 1848-1916) attempted to establish an imperial parliament (Reichsrat). 

This Reichsrat was intended to provide a certain amount of equality through representation, but it only caused more problems with the ethnic minorities.

In 1867 Austria and Hungary signed the Ausgleich or Compromise of 1867. 

This compromise created the dual monarchy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

Each country had its own legislature and own capital. 

Each was responsible for domestic policies, but they shared a monarch. 

Francis Joseph was emperor of Austria and king of Hungary. 

While Hungary gained some autonomy, other nationalities gained nothing and remained angry and bitter.

Great Britain

During the Age of Victoria (1837-1901), Great Britain, like Russia, had managed to avoid a revolution. 

The reforms of the 1830s had enabled various elements of society, specifically the middle class, to gain political representation. 

While most of Europe simmered in the revolutionary fervor of the 1840s, Britain managed to avoid such problems. 

The Industrial Exhibition of 1851 showed the whole world Britain’s industrial might and power. 

Also, by 1850 the Industrial Revolution was having a significant impact upon the wages of the workers. 

Between 1850 and 1870 wages increased 25%.

The Age of Victoria was glorified at home and abroad. 

British industry dominated the world, the British Empire, on which, “the sun never set” covered almost 20% of the Earth’s surface, and there was a belief that God must favor the Englishman. 

Two political parties, the Whigs (later the Liberals) and the Tories (later the Conservatives) led by two indefatigable leaders provided stability and peace. 

The two giants of the political world were Benjamin Disraeli (1804-1881) and William Gladstone (1809-1898) who between them spanned most of the era. 

These great men guided Britain through the troubled waters of the later part of the nineteenth century.

A Second Reform Bill was proposed in 1867, with each political party trying to gain the most votes.

Disraeli's government extended the right to vote to almost one-third of the adult males in the United Kingdom. 

In 1884 the Liberals further extended the right to vote adding another 2 million voters. 

(Britain did not grant universal male suffrage until 1918). 

Western Imperialism

Industrialization and the World Economy

The rise of global inequality.

The Industrial Revolution caused a great and steadily growing gap between Europe and North America and the non-industrializing regions of Africa, Asia, and Latin America.

In 1750, the average standard of living in Europe was no higher than the rest of the world.

By 1970, the average person in the rich countries had 25 times the wealth of the average person in the poor countries.

This gap, seen first between Britain and the rest of Europe, was the product of industrialization.

Only after 1945 did Third World regions begin to make gains.

Some argue that these disparities are the result of the West using science and capitalism; others argue that the West used its economic and political power to steal its riches.

The world market.

World trade, which by 1913 was 25 times what it had been in 1800, meant an interlocking economy centered in and directed by Europe.

Britain played a key role in using trade to link the world.

It used its empire as a market for its manufactured goods.

For example, Europe bought 50 percent of Britain's cotton textiles.

Britain prohibited its colonies from raising protective tariffs; thus, it was difficult for them to develop their own industries.

Britain sought to eliminate all tariffs on traded goods, and this free trade policy stimulated world trade.

The railroad, the steamship, refrigeration, and other technological innovations revolutionized trade patterns.

The Suez and Panama canals and modern port facilities fostered intercontinental trade.

Beginning about 1840, Europeans invested large amounts of capital abroad and in other European countries.

Most of the exported capital went to the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and Latin America, where it built ports and railroads.

This investment enabled still more land to be settled by Europeans, pushing out the native peoples already living there.

The opening of China and Japan:

European trade with China increased, but not without the use of force on the part of the Westerners.

China was self sufficient and had never been interested in European goods, and the Qing Dynasty carefully regulated trade.

British merchants and the Chinese clashed over the sale of opium and the opening of Chinese ports to Europeans.

The opium war in 1839-1842 led to the British acquisition of Hong Kong and the opening of four cities to trade (the Treaty of Nanking).

A second war in 1856-1860 resulted in more gains for Europeans.

Japan also was unwilling to trade or have diplomatic relations with the West.

Japan wanted to maintain its longstanding isolation.

Its persecution of Christians and attack on foreign vessels led to American belief that Japan was blocking America's destined role in the Pacific.

An American fleet under Perry "opened" Japan in 1853 with threats of naval bombardment.

Western penetration of Egypt.

Muhammad Ali built a modern state in Turkish-held Egypt that attracted European traders.

He drafted the peasants, reformed the government, and improved communications.

The peasants lost out because the land was converted from self sufficient farms to large, private landholdings to grow cash crops for export.

Ismail continued the modernization of Egypt, including the completion of the Suez Canal, but also drew the country deeply into debt.

To prevent Egypt from going bankrupt, Britain and France intervened politically.

Foreign financial control provoked a violent nationalistic reaction in Egypt that led to British occupation of the country until 1956.

The Great Migration

The greatest migration in history took place when more than 60 million people left Europe between 1815 and 1932.

The pressure of population.

The population of Europe more than doubled between 1800 and 1900.

This population growth was the impetus behind emigration.

Migration patterns varied from country to country, reflecting the differing social and economic conditions.

Five times as many people migrated in 1900-1910 as in the 1850s.

Between 1840 and 1920, one-third of all migrants came from Britain; German migration was greatest between 1830 and the 1880s, while Italian migration continued high until 1914.

The United States absorbed about half the migrants from Europe, while in other countries an even larger proportion of their population was new arrivals.

European migrants:

Most European migrants were peasants lacking adequate landholdings or craftsmen threatened by industrialization.

Most were young and unmarried, and many returned home after some time abroad.

Many were spurred on by the desire for freedom; many Jews left Russia in the 1880s.

Italian migrants were often small landowning peasants who left because of agricultural decline; many went to Brazil, Argentina, and France; some later returned to Italy.

Ties of friendship and family often determined where people would settle.

Many migrated because they resented the power of the privileged classes.

Western Imperialism

Between 1880 and 1914, European nations scrambled for political as well as economic control over foreign nations.

This scramble led to new tensions among competing European states and wars with non-European powers.


One country dominates the political, economic, and social life of another country.

Forms of Imperialism:

Direct - military intervention total control of the country.

Protectorate - own government but “guided” by mother country.

Sphere of influence - imperialist hold exclusive economic interests.

Overall aim was to gain the most at the least expense.

Causes of Imperialism:

Main reason: Britain was losing its economic lead.

European countries started the land grab and Britain followed fearing Germany and France.

The rise of Germany and America.

However most new colonies were too poor to really contribute, especially until 1914.

Political reasons also became important i.e.. protect the Suez to protect Indian trade; control Sudan to protect Egypt.

The British believed it was the special genius of the Anglo-Saxon race i.e. the British to rule.

Darwinism had been adapted from the plant/animal world to the human world.

Suggested some races were better suited to survive and flourish.

There was a common assumption that the British were indeed the master race.

Britain held a material, scientific, and intellectual advantage over all other nations.

They had been successful on a global scale.

The machine gun - the ultimate weapon.

Quinine - controlled malaria and allowed the white man to access the jungle.

Steamship - fast, efficient, dependable travel.

Telegram - news can travel the world in a short time.

Social tension and domestic political conflict contributed.

In Germany and Russia leaders ‘created’ colonial problems to divert attention from domestic problems.

Propagandists claimed colonies:

a) provided jobs.

b) created markets.

c) provided raw materials.

d) raised the standard of living for all.

 Government leaders used mass media to encourage the masses, to savor the triumphs.

Special interest groups such as ship builders, military suppliers, and steel factory owners also pushed for expansion.

White settlers demanded more land and more protection.

Ironically, most countries were too poor to pay for imported goods.

Career military and political men could gain rapid advancement serving Britain in the colonies.

Missionaries wanted to stop slavery  and spread religion to ‘civilize’ the world.

Rudyard Kipling - most influential writer of the 1890s wrote “White Man’s Burden.”

The French also believed in their ‘civilizing mission’- “mission civilisatrice”

Many humanitarians built schools to educate the natives in European ways.

Catholic and Protestant missionaries competed with each other and Islam to gain converts to save the natives.

Religious success in Africa conflicted sharply with failure in Asia and India.

Expansionism sometimes evoked criticism.

British economist, J. A. Hobson, contended:

a) colonial expansion was caused by unregulated capitalists and the need to find outlets for surplus capital. 

b) Only special interest groups profited at the expense of the taxpayer.

c) imperialism diverted attention away from domestic problems.

Polish novelist Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness, criticized the selfish European for trying to civilize the native.

Critics also castigated the double-standard of imperialism and the failure of the imperialist to live up to his own noble ideals.

The Scramble For Africa

By 1880 European nations only controlled 10% of Africa.

The British took the Dutch settlement of Cape Town after the Napoleonic Wars.

Cecil Rhodes.

After 1853 the Boers proclaimed political independence and fought the British.

By 1880 British and Boer settlers controlled much of South Africa.

Boers - Dutch descendents moved northward to avoid the British.

Vortrekkers - The Great Trek created two independent states:

Orange Free State and Transvaal

Boer War (1899-1902):

British and Dutch Afrikaner whites fought a war over land and gold.

Won by the British, who established the new Union of South Africa.

This state was ruled by the white minority Afrikaners.

The Berlin conference (1884-1885) laid ground rules for this new imperialism.

European claims to African territory had to be based on military occupation.

No single European power could claim the whole continent.

The Portuguese controlled Angola and Mozambique.

By 1900 the whole continent had been carved up, only Ethiopia and Liberia remained free.

The most important country was Egypt which was occupied by the British.

Suez Canal - built by Ferdinand de Lesseps of France.

Disraeli buys 44% - protecting investment from the Egyptians.

Sudan- General Gordon’s troops massacred by the Mahdi at Khartoum.

The British under Kitchener massacred Muslim tribesmen at Omdurman (1898) in their drive to conquer the Sudan and nearly went to war with the French at Fashoda.

Fashoda Crisis:

Since the colonies of both the French and the British were widespread over the continent, both countries wanted to link their respective colonies with a system of railroads.

Great Britain wanted to link Uganda to Egypt, by building the "Cape-to-Cairo" railway.

France, on the other hand, wanted to extend their empire through Central Africa and Sudan, by pushing eastward from the west coast.

This lead to the confrontation at Fashoda, over an obscure outpost, sought by no general staff.

Eventually, the French and British governments agreed that the watershed of the Nile and the Congo, respectively, should mark the boundaries between their spheres of influence.


King Leopold II acted as an ordinary citizen.

Henry Stanley.

Congo Free State.

brutal mistreatment of the local peoples and plunder of natural resources.                 

The French Empire:

Islands in the West Indies – Martinique.

Polynesia – Tahiti.

South America -

   French Guiana.

Africa – Algeria.

Asia – Indochina.


Little interest, Bismarck believed in European affairs, some African colonies.

Later Germany joined the scramble.

Italy – unsuccessful.

failed to acquire Ethiopia.

Lost battle of Adowa.

Portugal - colonies in West Africa.

Spain – Morocco.

Imperialism in Asia


Failure of the Manchu dynasty.

Commodore Perry (1854).

“opening of Japan.”




Sino-Japanese War (1894-5) led to imperialism in China.


In 1853, Japan was a feudal society, with a figurehead emperor and a military governor, the shogun.

The entry of foreigners to Yokohama between 1858 and 1863 led to a wave of anti-foreign terrorism.

Western navies attacked, weakening the shogun so that patriotic samurai seized control of the government.

This was called the Meiji Restoration (1867).

It was a reaction to American intrusion, unequal treaties, and the humiliation of the shogun (military governor).

The Meiji leaders were modernizers who brought liberal and economic reforms.

They abolished the old decentralized government and formed a strong, unified state.

They declared social equality and allowed freedom of movement.

They created a free, competitive, government stimulated economy.

They built a powerful modern navy and reorganized the army.

In the 1890s, Japan looked increasingly toward the German Empire and rejected democracy in favor of authoritarianism.

Japan became an imperial power in the Far East.

Japan defeated China in a war over Korea in 1894-1895.

In 1904, Japan attacked Russia and took Manchuria.


1800’s China opened for trade.

Opium War won by Britain.


Treaty ports.

Sphere of Influence:

an area or region over which a state or organization has significant cultural, economic, military or political influence.

Open Door Policy:

Led to an increase of trade, economic co-operation, and interdependence between countries.

Boxer Rebellion:

Society of Righteous and Harmonious Fists.

Anti-foreign feelings.

Massacre of foreigners and Chinese Christians.

Foreign powers quelled the Rebellion.

Russo-Japanese War:

Russia invades China to divert attention away from internal problems.

Battle of Mukden - 624,000 men in battle - won by Japan.

Treaty of Portsmouth.


India became the jewel of the British Empire; the British East India Company conquered the last independent Indian state in 1848.

After 1858 (The Great Rebellion) (Sepoy Rebellion) India was ruled by the British Parliament in London and supervised by a small group of white colonial officials.

Whites considered the Indians inferior and practiced widespread discrimination and segregation.

The British established a modern system of schools to educate the Indians.

Once educated the Indian could be used by the British.

High-caste Indians responded quickly to this opportunity.

The British modernized the agricultural system, built the world’s third largest railroad network, and huge tea and jute plantations - with Indian help.

However, most people didn’t benefit because surpluses were taken up by population increases.

The British created a unified state and placed Hindus and Muslims under the same law.

Yet the Indian elites still wanted nationalism.

The best jobs were still taken by whites.

1885 the Hindu Indian National Congress demanded the same rights as Canada and Australia.

Responses to Imperialism

Western expansion continually threatened traditional ways, beliefs, and values.

Initial responses included violence, but superior military capabilities dominated.

Some believed that the European countries were indeed stronger.

Traditionalists refused to give up their heritage.

Modernizers accepted and welcomed change.

Modernizers or Westernizers gained the upper-hand.

Support for European control was always shallow and weak.

Anti-imperialists burned with a desire for the dignity of man.

Anti-imperialists found their justification in Liberalism.

They believed in modern nationalism - every country having the right to its own destiny.

After 1917 they also found support in Lenin’s version of Marxian socialism.


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The Age of Nationalism and Imperialism summary and notes