(1814-1917) By Lance Wilson, Cole Bachmeier, and Austen Tyryfter

"Friends are the sunshine of life."- John Hay

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While the Industrial Revolution was occuring in the Europe and America, overseas many of these countries attempted to make colonies everywhere. The extension of a nation's power of foreign lands is known as imperialism. The cuase of imperialism was the motivation of economic prosperity. By controlling more land, nations would have direct control over places where they could find natural resources including rubber, oil, and tin. Other causes included the belief that no nation could be great without colonies. Racism, which was common in this era, led many to believe that they were superior to other races. The Social Darwinist aspect of this is that the best race would be victorious. The last reason that imperialism grew was because many people believed it was their job to educate less civilized people and to bring Christianity to them. Colonies, which had initially been located in the Americas, were established in Africa and southeast Asia.

Colonization in southeast Asia especially increased during the 1800's. The Dutch East Indies and the Spanish controlled Philippines were the only colonies in the area in 1800. In 1900, however, almost every square inch of land was ruled by a European nation. Great Britain's colonies included Singapore, a port city founded in 1819 by Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles, and Burma, which was designed to provide protection for India and produce a land route into China. The French, who had Christian missionaries stationed in Vietnam, saw the British takeover of Burma as a threat to their interests. They were quick to make Vietnam a French protectorate, and in the 1880's they added Cambodia, Laos, Annam, and Tonkin to their territory, which was renamed French Indochina in 1887. Thailand, then known as Siam, was able to maintain a good relationship with the European powers under the reigns of King Mongkut and King Chulalongkom. As a result, it remained an independent country and served as an effective buffer between the British and French colonies. The Philippines passed from Spanish to American control in 1898 when the United States won the Spanish-American War. The colonies were ruled by indirect rule when possible, as it was cheaper to employ the local rulers. However, when the previous authorities were against the colonization, direct rule was used. This was safer as it would lower the chances of attempted revolutions, but it was also more expensive as it required the European nation to train new offficials. In the 1700's, the British increased their power in India. The first to rule India was the British East India Company. They had hired Indian soldiers called sepoys to protect their interests. In 1857, a rumor spread that the British had coated their bullets with cow and pig fat. This was offensive to the Muslims and Hindus in the area, who were forbidden to use pigs and sanctified cows, respectively. As a result, the Indians revolted. Despite vastly outnumbering the British, the Indians were disorganized, and the revolt was put down. The British Parliament then transferred the rule of India to the British government, giving Queen Victoria the title Empress of India. The rule of India was now placed under a viceroy. The British rule brought many innovations to India, such as public schools, the telegraph, the postal service, and the railroad to a more stable India, but came at the price of a collapsing of the textile industry, which resulted from the importing of British manufactured goods, and food shortages, which occurred when the British encouraged Indians to grow cotton rather than food. Colonization began much later in Africa. In 1880, almost the entire continent was made of independent nations. However, by the beginning of World War I only Ethiopia and Liberia were free of colonial control. The British first took control of Egypt in 1875, when they bought the land around the Suez Canal, which had been built by the French and designed by Ferdinand de Lesseps. The canal had been completed in 1869. Despite revolts in both Egypt and Sudan, Great Britain suppressed these revolts and made both of them into colonies. France took control of Tunisia, Algeria, and part of Morocco. Italy, which had previously failed to take control of Ethiopia, took control of what the Turks called Tripoli and renamed it Libya. In South Africa there were conflicts between the Boers, who were descended from early Dutch settlers, and the British. The British had initially driven the Boers north, forming what they called the Cape Colony. The Boers created the Orange Free State and Transvaal. Later, in the Boer War, which lasted from 1899 to 1902, the British came again into conflict with the Boers. They won the war, and the Boer and British lands were consolidated into South Africa.

While Europeans scrambled over the lands in Africa and Asia in an attempt to create more colonies, colonies were already established in the Americas, and during the 1800's they would began to declare their independence. The first nation to declare independence in Latin America was Haiti, which declared its independence on January 1, 1804, following a slave revolt on the island of Hispaniola. Mexico's path to independence began in 1810, when Miguel Hidalgo, who was a priest, called the mestizos to rise up against those who stole their lands. On September 16, a mob formed and attacked the Spanish. The mob was crushed, and Hidalgo was executed. However, the memory would live on, and the date is now known as Mexican Independence Day. Mexico would later declare its independence in 1821 under Agustin de Iturbide. Agustin declared himself emperor the following year but was deposed in favor of a republic in 1823. Meanwhile, in South America, Jose de San Martin and Simon Bolivar led revolutions across the continent, and by 1824 the entire continent was free. These two men believed that no country in South America could be free as long as there was European presence on the continent. Bolivar led the revolutions in Colombia, Venezuela, and Ecuador. San Martin liberated Argentina in 1810, and led an army across the Andes in 1817. Despite losing many men and over two thirds of his animals, San Martin's army surprised the Spanish and were able to secure a victory at the Battle of Chacbuco on February 12. San Martin's and Bolivar's forces met in Peru, and on December 9, 1824, the last Spanish army was removed from the continent. The only large country not freed by San Martin and Bolivar was Brasil, but Brasil had declared its independence from Portugal in 1822. The nations of Central America declared their independence in 1823, and would later be divided into five separate states. The Monroe Doctrine, created by James Monroe in 1823, ensured the independence of the Latin American nations and warned the Europeans against intervention. The republics of Latin America lasted only a short time, as the countries were often taken over by Caudillos, who ruled by military might. Some were good and some were bad, but in general they preserved the unity of the new nations. One of these caudillos, Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna, caused Texas to declare independence to escape his corrupt rule in 1836. In 1845, Texas became part of the United States. Mexico lost almost half of its land in the war that followed. Following rulers of Mexico instituted many reforms, such as educational systems. The United States began interferring in the Latin American affairs in 1898. In order to protect its interests in Latin America, the United States occupied many of the countries in the region. One of these was Panama, in which the US built the Panama Canal. The Panama Canal would open in 1914.

At the beginning of the nineteenth century, China was ruled by the Qing Dynasty. The Chinese were wary of trade with foreign nations, and limited trade with the west to the port city of Guangzhou. The British exchanged cotton for tea, silk, and porcelain in this city. However, with the increase of British tea consumption, the British had to pay for their imports with silver. In an attempt to end the trade imbalance, the British began exporting opium into China. Opium, which had been made illegal in China due to its addictive properties, saw an explosive increase in demand in southern China. The British were now receiving silver for their exports. When the British refused to stop
Opium Poppy
the illegal trading, the Chinese blockaded the city. The British then began the Opium War, which lasted from 1839 to 1842. The British easily won, and the treaty opened five port cities to western trade. These cities would be governed by European laws; this practice is called extraterritoriality. The Chinese would later be convinced to legalize the opium trade in 1858 with the Treaty of Tianjin. The Qing Dynasty also failed to address its domestic economic problems. As a result, a peasant revolt known as the Tai Ping Rebellion began. The Tai Ping Rebellion was began by Hong Xiuquan, who believed himself to be the younger brother of Jesus and that God had given him the task of ending the Qing Dynasty. The new dynasty would be named Tai Ping Tianguo, or Heavenly Kingdom of Great Peace. The goals of the rebellion were to provide freedom to peasants and equality to women, but they were also called to hold things possessions in common, similar to the goals of the later Communist Revolution. The rebellion had a strong following from 1850 until 1853, but then began to fall apart until the European aided Chinese forces ended it in 1864. The Qing soon began to listen to reformers, who called for China to accept Western technology, while still retaining the Confucian ideals and culture that was currently in place in a process called self-strengthening. This process would largely fail. War with Japan and demands of land from European nations weakened the Chinese government even further. The United States and Great Britain feared the European nations would overrun China if the Qing Dynasty collapsed. Many American companies also wished for easier trade with China. The result was the Open Door Policy, which was proposed by the US Secretary of State John Hay in 1899. While it did not completely end the spheres of influence where trade was held with only one nation, the restrictions were limited and any country could trade from any port city in China. This did not stop the Society of Harmonious Fists, known as the Boxers, from becoming angered at the foreign control of Chinese lands. The Boxers roamed the countryside and killed missionaries for several years. The European powers ended this and demanded payment from China for the damages. Despite attempts at reforms in the following decades, the Qing Dynasty could not increase its power. A revolutionary named Sun Yat-sen believed that the Qing could no longer govern the country. He believed in democracy, but knew that the country would not accept it. To combat this, he devised a three stage plan that began with a military takeover but would be transitioned to democracy. In 1911, while Yat-sen was travelling in the United States, his followers began the revolution. The result, however, was that the General Yuan Shigai, who was a leader of the imperial army, took control as president. However, Yuan was a dictator, and was only accepted because no one had enough military might to challenge his control over the army. While China's government was collapsing, Japan had isolated itself from all other countries except Korea. A fleet of US warships sailed into Edo Bay in 1853 to request trade between the nations. When they later returned for the answer, their larger fleet intimidated Japan into opening ports to western traders and allowing the US to establish a consulate in the country. Many people in Japan were displeased by this, and the samurai of southern Japan called for an end to the relations with the west. When the shogun was unable to do so, the samurai restored the emperor's power and removed the shogun. The emperor still did not hold the actual power, however, and the Sat-Cho had the capital moved from Kyoto to Tokyo. The government was then reformed and modeled after Germany's. There would be a legislative body, but the executive ruler would hold most of the power. However, the Sat-Cho oligarchy remained in power. Japan soon became an imperialist power, taking control of Korea and ignominiously defeating the Russians in 1905. Japan had become one of the world's great powers.

Important Imperialism People:

John Hay

Jose de San Martin
Ferdinand de Lesseps

Mohandas Gandhi

Queen Victoria

Key Imperialism Terms:

  • Imperialism- The extension of a nation’s power over other lands. Examples of this are the Europeans setting up colonies in North and South America as well as trading posts in Africa.
  • Protectorate- A political unit that depends on another government for protection. An example of a protectorate is the French protectorate, Hanoi, the Vietnamese Empire.
  • Sepoys- Indian soldiers used to protect the company’s interests in the region. The British East India Company had these Indian solders to rule India by protecting forts and other soldiers.
  • Viceroy- A governor who ruled as a representative of a monarch. Viceroys were assisted by a British civil service staff. The British government ruled India directly through these viceroys.
  • Creoles- Descendants of Europeans born in Latin America who lived there permanently. These people found the principles of equality of all people such as free trade and free press attractive.
    Copper-natural form
  • Peninsulares- Peninsulares were Portuguese and Spanish officials who resided temporarily in Latin America for economic and political gain and they then returned to their home countries.
  • Monroe Doctrine- A doctrine in which James Monroe guaranteed the independence of the new Latin American nations and warned against European intervention in the Americas.
  • Extraterritoriality- A practice in which Europeans lived in their own sections and were subject not to Chinese laws but to their own laws. An example of this is the British island of Hong Kong.
  • Spheres of influence- Areas in which the imperial powers had exclusive trading rights. Warlords granted nations exclusive trading rights or railroad-building and mining privileges in exchange for money.
  • Commodities- Marketable products such as oil, copper, salt, tea, and porcelain. These products were especially noticeable in cities and in the national market especially in China.

Key Dates

January 1, 1804: Haiti declares its independence, becoming the first country in the area to do so.
September 16, 1810: Miguel Hidalgo leads a mob to attack the Spanish army in Mexico; the event is memorialized by Mexican Independence Day.
1819: Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles founds the port city of Singapore.
December 9, 1824: The forces of Jose de San Martin and Simon Bolivar defeat the last powerful Spanish army in South America.
1845: Texas becomes a US state; this serves as a driving force for the Mexican War.
1850: The Tai Ping Rebellion, which calls for socialist equality in China, begins.
1853: The US uses a fleet of warships to convince Japan to open its ports to trade with the west.
1898: The Spanish-American War, which results in the expansion of American imperial power, begins.
1899: John Hay institutes the Open Door Policy, which allows nations to trade freely from any port city.
1911: An organisation influenced by Sun Yat-sen begin a revolution, ending the Qing Dynasty.

Key People

  1. David Livingstone: Greatest African explorer, he was the 1st non-African to cross Africa east to west. He discovered Victoria falls in 1855, he also wrote to the London journal which carried stories of his expeditions, they considered him a national hero. He was considered missing or dead in 1871.
  2. Sir Henry Stanley: He was a New York Herald hired to find Livingstone when he disappeared. The 8 month search began on Nov. 10, 1871. Stanley took over the African exploration after Livingstone’s death even though he detested the land and its people. He also discovered the source of the Congo River.
  3. Shaka Zulu: “Napoleon of Africa” he was the Great Zulu King he had an army of 80,000. During the battle of Isandhalwana in 1870 the Zulu army defeated the British’s army. But using the new Maxim machine gun the Zulu army is later defeated by the British in 1879.
  4. Queen Victoria: Was known as the “Empress of India”. India was the “Jewel in the Crown”. She had many Impacts on India like that they were to shift from growing food to cotton. Also there were many social changes like population growth and improved healthcare. Schools were also ran by the British, but only the upper class Africans received schooling.
  5. Muhammad Ali: Officer of the Ottoman army who seized power and established a separate Egyptian state. He helped set up a public school system, great small industries and he also modernized the army of Egypt.
  6. Ferdinand Lesseps: He signed a contract in 1854 to begin building the Suez Canal, the canal was eventually completed in 1869 the canal was known as the “lifeline to India”.
  7. King Leopold II: He was known as “The Civilizer”, he was from Belgium. He was the one who hired Henry Stanley to find both Davis Livingstone and other natural resources like ivory, rubber and copper along the way. He participated in the exploration of the Congo, it was over 900,000 miles long.
  8. Mohandas Gandhi: Was born in 1869 in Gujarat, in western India. He studied in London and became a lawyer. In 1893, he went to South Africa to work in a law firm serving Indian workers there. Eventually Gandhi would lead a movement for nonviolent resistance, this movement eventually led to Indian independence.
  9. Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna: He ruled Mexico from 1833 to 1855. He created chaos in Mexico by misusing the countries funds and he also halted all the reforms that were put in place by the earlier leader.
  10. Emilio Aguinaldo: The leader of a movement for independence in the Philippines. He began his revolt against the Spanish. When the United States acquired the Philippines, Aguinaldo continued the revolt and set himself up as the president of the Republic of the Philippines.

View Imperialism in Asia and over 3,000,000 other topics on Qwiki.


The Left video describes how the European nations used their superior technology to subdue and colonize Africa. The other describes the Expedition of Africa by Stanley and Livingstone.

Inperialism Links:

Mohandas Gandhi This link explains who Mohandas Gandhi was. It explains when he was born as well as when he died. Gandhi was credited for leading India to independence as well as inspiring civil rights.
Monroe Doctrine This link explains that the Monroe Doctrine was a policy that was introduced to the United States on December 2, 1823. It stated that the United States would not interfere with European Colonies.
Caudillos This explains that a caudillo a political-military leader at the head of an authoritarian. This describes the orgin of the caudillo and how the caudillo gained so much support and their leadership.
Imperialism Imperialism can be described as "the creation and/or maintenance of an unequal economic, cultural, and territorial relationship, usually between states and often in the form of an empire, based on domination and subordination."
This link explains the ideals behind Imperialism.
Boxer Rebellion This site explain exactly what the Boxer Rebellion was. It explained that it lasted from the Autumn of 1899 through the 7th of September, 1901. The Boxer Rebellion was a proto-nationalist movement in China.
David Livingstone This site explains all that you would need to know about David Livingstone. It includes how he felt about Africa before and after he arrived. It also explains many of the great things he did in Africa.
Sir Henry Stanley This site provides all the information you could possibly need on Sir Henry Stanley, the site includes all the information on what happened when he found Livingstone and all the info after Livingstone's death.
Shaka Zulu This site provides all the information on Shaka Zulu, it includes information from when he was a kid all the way to when he was the king. It also provides some details on his strategies during the war with the British.
Overview This site provides a general overview of the Age of Imperialism. It includes many key terms and people although it does not provide very detailed information you still get a general understanding of what happened during this time period.
Timeline This site provides a more detailed timeline than the one on this wiki. This time line contains more key dates and more information with each of those dates. It is also very easy to use and to navigate through the timeline.


This map shows the colonization of southeast Asia in the 1800's.Imperialism_Map.jpg