Essay on chamberlain

8 August 2016

The True Conception of Empire by Joseph Chamberlain Joseph Chamberlain was a British politician and statesman. During his early adulthood he was a radical Liberal Party member and a campaigner for educational reform under the Victorian era which promoted glory of the monarchy. He entered the House of Commons aged almost forty, relatively late in life for a front-rank politician. Rising to power through his influence with the Liberal grassroots organization, he served as President of the Board of Trade in Gladstone’s Second Government from 1880 to 85.

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At the time, Chamberlain was notable for his attacks on the Conservative leader Lord Salisbury. From the 1895 general election, the Liberal Unionists were in coalition with the Conservative Party, under Chamberlain’s former opponent Lord Salisbury. Chamberlain accepted the post of Secretary of State for the Colonies, declining other positions. On March 1897, he delivered a speech to the Annual Royal Colonial Institute Dinner entitled “The True Conception of Empire” which comes from the book edited by Charles W.Boyd, Mr Chamberlain’s speeches In this text he deals a lot with the British Colonies and how British should behave with them in order to be a strong and powerful empire. So, in our presentation we will try to understand what is Chamberlain’s message concerning the colonies in his speech ? A first part will be about the historical context and the second one will focus on The opinion of Chamberlain about the colonies. I/ The Historical context At that time it was Britain’s imperial century the Empire included over 14 million square miles of territory and 450 million people.

It included more than a quarter of the world’s population and it was said that the sun never set on the British Empire, a phrase attributed to a Scottish writer, John Wilson. With supremacy at sea, Britain took on the role of global policeman, sometimes called the Pax Britannica (Pax Britannica (Latin for “the British Peace”, modeled after Pax Romana) was the period of relative peace in Europe and the world (1815–1914) during which the British Empire became the global hegemony and adopted the role of global policeman.

As well as having formal control over its own colonies, with a dominant position in world trade Britain could effectively control the economies of many countries including China and Argentina for instance. The empire was vital for trade and during the reign of Queen Victoria, at the height of the British Empire, British ports were full with ships arriving from far and wide carrying the goods that were processed and sold making Britain a wealthy nation.

The Great Exhibition of 1851, the very first World’s Fair, was a celebration of the diversity and richness of the Empire. As we said it before Joseph Chamberlain, a major figure of this period, was elected as colonial secretary into Salisbury’s cabinet during the General Elections of 1895, and in fact Chamberlain promoted colonial development by building not only railways and school but also by stimulating capital investment in every corner of the Empire in order to become stronger.

But tensions were present all over the world because countries wanted to have more territories that’s why Germany prepared to go war against Britain in South Africa, so Chamberlain decided to emphasize the ties of Empire. According to that during the Diamond Jubilee in 1897, the imperial celebration of the Sixtieth anniversary of Queen Victoria’s accession to the throne. From all over the world came the prime ministers to pay homage to the Great White Queen. A similar celebration, the Golden Jubilee has taken place a decade before, but the Diamond Jubilee was if anything even less restrained.

Chamberlain hoped to utilize the Jubilee to take the first steps towards imperial federation, a joint customs union and defense union of the colonies that would ultimately be followed by the creation of an imperial parliament. Few of the colonial leaders were interested, and as long as Britain adhered to a policy of free trade, it was impossible to create any practical plan of imperial tariff preference. In order to express his vision about British colonies, Chamberlain delivered a speech in March 1897 to the Annual Royal Colonial Institute Dinner entitled “The True Conception of Empire”.

II/ The opinion of Chamberlain about the colonies The British Empire was referred to as “the empire on which the sun never sets” because the empire’s span across the globe ensured that the sun was always shining on at least one of its numerous colonies. Great Britain during Victoria’ reign was not only a powerful island nation. It was the center of global empire, we can quote the text: ” we began to be, and we ultimately became an imperial power in the eighteenth century” that fostered British contact with variety of other culture.

The British Empire is the most extensive empire in world history and for a time was the foremost power. It was a product of the European age of discovery, which began with the global maritime explorations of Portugal and Spain in the late fifteenth century. In 1886, Gladstone declared in favor of Home Rule and introduced into the House of Commons the first Home Rule Bill. The Liberal Party split. A radical section led by Chamberlain and a Whig section led by Hartington combined to defeat the Bill and broke away to form an independent group, the Liberal Unionists.

Chamberlain was launched in a new direction. However, the Liberal Unionists were perceived as a decisive force in their day and Chamberlain was bitten by the question of imperialism, and longing to put into practice his faith in the expansion and development of the Empire. As we can notice in the beginning of his speech, Chamberlain highlights the loss of American colonies after the war of independence in the US, as he said ” the colonies could be held for our profit alone” indeed, Great Britain lost her thirteen American colonies because there was a conflict which opposed the British and the Americans.

The Parliament of Westminster didn’t recognize the settlers. In his speech, Chamberlain mentioned the events which took place in Africa as slavery which was abolished in 1833 and barbarism methods in order to talk about civilization and to make Great Britain as an imperial power. As we can read: “you cannot have practices of barbarism, of slavery, of superstition, which for centuries have desolated the inferior of Africa, without the use of force” Chamberlain also wanted to present him as a pacifist person who used to be against differences in race between people.

All of these motives helped fuel the new imperialism. British expansion was not allowed to progress unchallenged. By the 1870s the British Empire had colonies in southern Africa bordering on various Boer settlements, native African kingdoms such as the Zulus, and numerous indigenous tribal areas and states. As far as the Anglo-Zulu war was concerned, it was then set in 1879. Following Lord Carnarvon’s successful introduction of federation in Canada, it was thought that political effort, coupled with military campaigns, might succeed with the African kingdoms, tribal areas and Boer republics in South Africa.

Moreover, The Anglo-Ashanti Wars were four conflicts between the Ashanti Empire, in the Akan interior of the Gold Coast, which is now Ghana, and the British Empire in the 19th century between 1824 and 1901. ” the cause of civilisation and the prosperity of the people will in the long run be eminently advanced” Chamberlain became soon very involved in imperialism, he was the most important famous politician at that time who pays attention to South African affairs and imperialism. Conclusion: To conclude we can say that the true conception of empire was a way to underline the problem of colonies in Great Britain.

Although, he was determined to form under British rule a southern African federation incorporating Cape Colony, Natal and the two Boer republics of Transvaal and the Orange Free State. The main result was the Boer War which took place 2 years after until 1902 and which Chamberlain supported enthusiastically even though it soon became apparent that Britain was militarily vulnerable and diplomatically isolated in Europe. Imperialism involves the claiming and exploiting of territories outside of ones own national boundaries for a variety of motives.

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