What Did Charles George Gordon Do to Earn the View That He Was an Imperial Hero and Was It Justified?

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What did Charles George Gordon do to earn the view that he was an Imperial Hero and was it justified? When discussing heroes the first things that would come to mind are selfless individuals, they would show a tremendous amount of bravery in the face of certain defeat and have the courage and determination to beat overwhelming odds. The dictionary definitions of heroes are “a mythological or legendary figure often of divine descent endowed with great strength and ability” or “a man admired for his achievements and noble qualities”. Charles George Gordon has gone down in history as a an imperial hero, during this essay I will ascertain what it was Charles Gordon did to earn this title and whether or not it was justified. Gordon was the son of a Royal Artillery officer and born in 1833. He was part of a large family with five sisters and five brothers. It would be from one his sisters that Gordon would inspiration for his strong religious views as his life went on. Gordon followed in his father’s footsteps and enlisted in the military, he joined the Royal Engineers as an officer. Gordon thrived in the Engineers with the nature of the work perfectly suited to his personality; they were posted all over the world building bridges, siege work and buildings all over the world. One of his first postings was to Pembroke Dock in Wale, here Gordon converted to Christianity. Although this wasn’t the beginning of the Gospel spreading Gordon we know today, he was still indifferent with regards to his religion he was not actively spreading the Christian word. By the time of his death, Gordon was a devout Christian, he did not fear death for he genuinely felt that death would lead him to a better place. By 1854 Gordon had become a very religious man, a lot of the can be attributed to his older sister Augusta. He wrote to her often almost thanking her for her spiritual guidance whilst also keeping her updated with his religious journey “You know I was never confirmed. When I was a cadet, I thought it was a useless sin as I did not intend to alter (not that it was in my power to be converted when I chose). I however, took my first sacrament on Easter day, and have communed ever since.”(Churchill, 2009, p95) I feel that his change in religious views ultimately would have a huge affect in how we was remembered and thought of. Religion was a huge part of the Empire, although the main stimulants for empire were to expand lands and capture natural resources, there was an aspect that by colonising lands it would also spread the message of God. Civilise and educate the savages of foreign lands. ‘At the height of the imperial age church people liked to argue that religion and the British empire were inseparable- that the visible, commercial and political empire was woven into the fabric of another, invisible country- a spiritual empire’ (Carey, 2008, p1). Charles Gordon was given many different political roles within the British Empire whilst serving in the army, however it is the Sudan that he is renowned for. In 1874 was appointed the full Governor of the Sudan. In typical Gordon style he launched himself into his new role, paying particular attention to the curbing and stopping of the slave trade. This was the sort of impossible task that Gordon relished. Gordon despised the slave trade, and he wrote often about it, voicing his disgust frequently in his letters. “I am a fool, I dare say, but I cannot see the sufferings of these peoples without tears in my eyes....”.(2010, Moore-Hall) Alice Moore-Hall writes that despite his hero label, Gordon didn’t successfully complete his objectives. Gordon essentially brought the area under the control of Egypt, however Moore-Hall explains that this was only really the case when Gordon or his representatives were present in the region. He was extremely successful at reducing the slave trade within the Sudan, a somewhat difficult task considering the affect that it had on the economy of the area. He did not...
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