Compare and Contrast Old and New Imperialism

1 January 2017

New Imperialism of the late 19th and early 20th centuries compared to Old Imperialism of the 16th and 17th centuries. Imperialism is the spread of control over territories across the globe. The Industrial Revolution and interests in nationalism created a new period of imperialism around 1750. Old imperialism lasted from 1450- 1750, but imperialism alone remained until 1914. Old imperialism and new imperialism shared the same basic concept of controlling and utilizing foreign countries. Old imperialism focused mainly on systems of trade while new imperialism took bolder steps to overtaking nations.

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Old Imperialism was the period from 1450-1750 -Powers were motivated by “gold, glory, and God” -Gold referred to the wealth (precious metals and valuable merchandise) that the newly discovered lands promised to deliver -Glory described the pride a monarch of Europe felt in laying claim to new land -Gospel was a reference to the desire of European powers to ‘bring heathens to Christ – Old Imperialism was driven by Mercantilism-is the economic doctrine in which government control of foreign trade is of paramount importance for ensuring the prosperity and military security of the state. In particular, it demands a positive balance of trade.

New Imperialism took place from 1750-1914 -colonial expansion adopted by Europe’s powers and later Japan and the United States -During the 19th and early 20th centuries expansion took place from the French conquest of Algeria until WW1 -This period is distinguished by an unprecedented pursuit of overseas territorial acquisitions -The Berlin Conference -organized by Bismark to provide for a more orderly conquest of Africa Old Imperialism was the period from 1450-1750, in which powers were motivated by “gold, glory, and God”. Political power was controlled by central governments while leaders were busy trying to increase their power.

National wealth was widely viewed as holder of power. In old Imperialism, Europeans focused on a cash and carry system, where they purchased goods from native merchants who brought the goods they produced. This led to a focus on a trading system because Europeans didn’t want to take on territorial responsibilities. During the Old imperialism era, Europeans set up trading posts, ports, and docks. These trading centers benefited the places the mother country was supplying too. They had objectives to protect their trading centers in native places and none to obtain territories in them.

Europe’s trade within and between native lands led to cultural diversity which may have caused a small breach in unity. However, the old Imperialism era ended due to high costs in taking over territories and too much time to supply the mother country. There was no time to build up a superior, organized, skilled army for anyone. Also, due to the Industrial Revolution there was now a faster more efficient way to create and manufacture products. Throughout Western Europe, political authority was completely controlled by central governments, while leaders, such as Isabela I, were busy with the concept of how to increase the power of the state.

National wealth was widely viewed as the groundwork of national power, governmental controls soon dominated nearly all of the state’s domestic economy. The start of Old Imperialism was based on the military and naval power and the underlining motive was essentially capitalistic. It began with sea explorations of the Spanish and Portuguese in the second half of the 15th century. Prince Henry the Navigator of Portugal actually set up a School of Exploration for that very purpose.

Commercial companies were sponsored and financed with military and naval expeditions frequently sent out after them to ensure political control of oversea territories. Eventually, great colonial empires were established by the various naval forces of Europe. Success was determined based on strategy and military power, as well as religious, social, and economic justifications. Early in the 17th century, the Netherlands consisted of the highest ranking naval force; overtaking much of Portugal and creating establishments on the coasts of North and South Americas.

France eventually created colonies in North and South America as well. Although Portugal and France started early with imperialism, England wasn’t far behind. England, and then the United Kingdom, ended up creating the most colonies, ranging from North and South Americas to Africa and India. On July 4, 1776, the Thirteen Colonies signed the Declaration of Independence, became the United States, a sovereign nation, and was no longer under control by the British. Some people consider this the downfall in Britain’s imperial lusts.

Portugal and Spain ended up dropping out of the imperial race soon thereafter. Began in 1880’s in Africa; earlier in Asia -In 1800 Europeans controlled about 7% of the world’s territory; by 1914, they controlled 84% -Europeans colonized Africa and Asia by using military force to take control of local governments, exploiting local economies for raw materials required by Europe’s growing industry and imposing Western values to benefit the “backwards” colonies -Britain’s control of Egypt in the 1880’s became the model for the “New Imperialism” Major causes for the imperialist impulse Search for new markets and raw materials.

The industrial revolution created a surplus of goods; capitalists sought new markets for goods -New markets often proved elusive since colonial peoples were usually too poor to purchase European goods New military and naval bases to protect one’s interests against other European powers -Britain concerned by French & German land grabs in 1880’s -Increased tensions between the “haves” (Britain) and the “have not’s” (Germany & Italy) who came in late to the imperialistic competition -Ideology: nationalism and Social Darwinism ”Survival of the fittest” ideology (Herbert Spencer) rationalized the conquest of weak countries by stronger more civilized ones -”White Man’s Burden”: racist and patronizing view that preached that the “superior” Westerners had an obligation to bring their culture to “uncivilized” peoples in other parts of the world Berlin conference 1884-85: established the “rules” for conquest in Africa Provisions:

No imperial power could claim a territory in Africa unless it effectively controlled that territory; and Slavery and the slave trade in Africa was terminated -Sought to prevent international conflicts between European nations over the issue of imperialism -Sponsored by German chancellor Bismark & Jules Ferry; as result “scramble for Africa” was on The “Scramble for Africa” -In 1880, Europeans controlled 10 % of Africa; by 1914, controlled all except Liberia & Ethiopia -Began in 1870’s when Belgium took control of the Congo The British Empire in Africa -Sudan.

Kitchener defeated Sudanese tribesman and killed 11,000 (with machine guns) while only 28 Britons died French Empire in Africa -Algeria- Since 1830, the French had controlled Algeria in North Africa; The attack on French shipping by Barbary pirates was used as a pretext for conquest; Algeria remained under French control until the early 1960s Germany- Since Germany wasn’t unified until 1871, it was late to the imperialist game compared to Britain and France Italy- Italy was the last of the European powers to participate in the scramble for Africa -Eritrea on the Red Sea coast became Italy’s first colony in Africa in the 188s -In 1896, Italian forces were defeated trying to take Ethiopia -Italy became the first European country to suffer a defeat by Africans.

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