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European Hegemony during 1750-1914 CE

Topics: Industrial Revolution / Pages: 51 (12689 words) / Published: Mar 31st, 2013
PART II, UNIT IV:1750-1914
The era between 1750 and 1914 C.E. was one of clear Europeanhegemony. In the previous era (1450 to 1750 C.E.), Europeans hadtilted the balance of world power away from Asia, where powerfulcivilizations had existed since ancient times. However, despitegrowing European influence based on sea trade and colonization, majorland-based empires in Asia still influenced long-distance trade andshaped political and economic conditions around them. In this era,Europe not only dominated the western hemisphere, as it had in thelast, but it came to control the eastern hemisphere as well. How didthey do it? Part of the answer lies in a set of discoveries andhappenings that together constitute an important "Marker Event" - theIndustrial Revolution. Another set of philosophical and politicalevents were equally important - the establishment of democracy as amajor element of a new type of political organization - the"nation."
Very important characteristics that distinguish 1750-1914 fromprevious eras in world history include: • European dominance of long-distance trade - Whether by "unequal treaties" or colonization, sea-based trade gave European countries control of all major trade circuits in the world. • "Have" and "have not" countries created by Industrialization - The Industrial Revolution gave huge economic and political advantages to countries where it occurs over countries that remained primarily agricultural. • Inequalities among regions increase due to imperialism - Industrialized countries set out to form overseas empires, sometimes through colonization and other times by economic and/or political domination. • Political revolutions inspired by democracy and desire for independence - These revolutions continue to the present, but "seed" revolutions that put new democratic forms of government in place occurred during this era. The "nation" emerged as a new type of political organization.
We will analyze these important characteristics of the period byexamining these topics: • Changes in global commerce, communications, and technology - Patterns of world trade and contact changed as the Industrial Revolution revolutionized communications and commerce. Distances became shorter as the Suez and Panama Canals cut new channels for travel, and new technology meant that ships were faster than before. Railroads revived land travel. • Demographic and environmental changes - Huge numbers of people migrated to the Americas from Europe and Asia, so that population in the western hemisphere grew dramatically. The slave trade ended, and so did forced migrations from Africa to the New World. Industrialization had a huge impact on the environment, as demands for new fuels came about and cities dominated the landscape in industrialized countries. Industrialization also increased the demand for raw materials from less industrialized countries, altering natural landscapes further. • Changes in social and gender structures - Serf and slave systems became less common, but the gap between the rich and poor grew in industrialized countries. We will explore the controversy regarding changes in women's roles in response to industrialization. Did women's status improve, or did gender inequality grow? • Political revolutions and independence movements; new political ideas - Absolutism was challenged in many parts of the globe, and democracy took root as a result of economic and social change and Enlightenment philosophies that began in the 17th century. "Nations" arose as political entities that inspired nationalism and movements of political reform. • Rise of western dominance - The definition of "west" expanded to include the United States and Australia, and western dominance reached not only economic and political areas, but extended to social, cultural, and artistic realms as well.
Although coercive labor systems as such declined during this era,new questions of equality and justice emerged as west came todominate east, and the gap between the rich and poor grew larger,particularly in the most prosperous countries.
By 1750 international trade and communications were nothing new.During the 1450-1750 era Europeans had set up colonies in theAmericas so that for the first time in world history the western andeastern hemispheres were in constant contact with one another.However, after 1750 the pace of trade picked up dramatically, fed bya series of economic and technological transformations collectivelyknown as the Industrial Revolution.
Remember that to be called a Marker Event in world history, adevelopment should qualify in three ways: • It must cross national or cultural borders, affecting many civilizations. • Later changes or developments in history must be at least partially traced to this event or series of events. • It must have impact in other areas. For example, if it is a technological change, it must impact some other major areas, like government, belief systems, social classes, or the economy.
Like the Neolithic Revolution that occurred 10,000 years beforeit, the Industrial Revolution qualifies as a Marker Event accordingto all of the above criteria. It brought about such sweeping changesthat it virtually transformed the world, even areas in whichindustrialization did not occur. The concept seems simple &endash;invent and perfect machinery to help make human labor more efficient- but that's part of its importance. The change was so basic that itcould not help but affect all areas of people's lives in every partof the globe.
The Industrial Revolution began in England in the late 18thcentury, and spread during the 19th century to Belgium, Germany,Northern France, the United States, and Japan. Almost all areas ofthe world felt the effects of the Industrial Revolution because itdivided the world into "have" and "have not" countries, with many ofthe latter being controlled by the former. England's lead in theIndustrial Revolution translated into economic prowess and politicalpower that allowed colonization of other lands, eventually building aworldwide British Empire.
The Industrial Revolution helped England greatly increase itsoutput of manufactured goods by substituting hand labor with machinelabor. Economic growth in Britain was fueled by a number offactors: • An Agricultural Revolution - The Industrial Revolution would not have been possible without a series of improvements in agriculture in England. Beginning in the early1700s, wealthy landowners began to enlarge their farms through enclosure, or fencing or hedging large blocks of land for experiments with new techniques of farming. These scientific farmers improved crop rotation methods, which carefully controlled nutrients in the soil. They bred better livestock, and invented new machines, such as Jethro Tull's seed drill that more effectively planted seeds. The larger the farms and the better the production the fewer farmers were needed. Farmers pushed out of their jobs by enclosure either became tenant farmers or they moved to cities. Better nutrition boosted England's population, creating the first necessary component for the Industrial Revolution: labor. • A technological revolution - England also was the first to experience a technological revolution, a series of inventions built on the principles of mass production, mechanization, and interchangeable parts. Josiah Wedgwood developed a mold for pottery that replaced the potters wheel, making mass production of dishes possible. Many experimented with machinery to speed up human labor, and interchangeable parts meant that machines were more practical and easier to repair. • Natural resources - Britain had large and accessible supplies of coal and iron - two of the most important raw materials used to produce the goods for the early Industrial Revolution. Also available was water power to fuel the new machines, harbors for its merchant ships, and rivers for inland transportation. • Economic strength - During the previous era, Britain had already built many of the economic practices and structures necessary for economic expansion, as well as a middle class (the bourgeoisie) that had experience with trading and manufacturing goods. Banks were well established, and they provided loans for businessmen to invest in new machinery and expand their operations. • Political stability - Britain's political development during this period was fairly stable, with no major internal upheavals occurring. Although Britain took part in many wars during the 1700s, none of them took place on British soil, and its citizens did not seriously question the government's authority. By 1750 Parliament's power far exceeded that of the king, and its members passed laws that protected business and helped expansion.
The earliest transformation of the Industrial Revolution wasBritain's textile industry. In 1750 Britain already exported wool,linen, and cotton cloth, and the profits of cloth merchants wereboosted by speeding up the process by which spinners and weavers madecloth. One invention led to another since none were useful if anypart of the process was slower than the others. Some key inventionswere: • The flying shuttle - John Kay's invention carried threads of yarn back and forth when the weaver pulled a handle, greatly increasing the weavers' productivity. • The spinning jenny - James Hargreaves' invention allowed one spinner to work eight threads at a time, increasing the output of spinners, allowing them to keep up with the weavers. Hargreaves named the machine for his daughter. • The water frame - Richard Arkwright's invention replaced the hand-driven spinning jenny with one powered by water power, increasing spinning productivity even more. • The spinning mule - In 1779, Samuel Crompton combined features of the spinning jenny and the water frame to produce the spinning mule. It made thread that was stronger, finer, and more consistent than that made by earlier machines. He followed this invention with the power loom that sped up the weaving process to match the new spinners.
These machines were bulky and expensive, so spinning and weavingcould no longer be done at home. Wealthy textile merchants set up themachines in factories, and had the workers come to these places to dotheir work. At first the factories were set up near rivers andstreams for water power, but other inventions later made thisunnecessary. Before the late 1700s Britain's demand for cotton wasmet by India, but they increasingly came to depend on the Americansouth, where plantation production was speeded by Eli Whitney'sinvention of the cotton gin, a machine that efficiently separated thecotton fiber from the seed. By 1810 southern plantations used slavelabor to produce 85 million pounds of cotton, up from 1.5 million in1790.
Once the textile industry began its exponential growth,transportation of raw materials to factories and manufactured goodsto customers had to be worked out. New inventions in transportationspurred the Industrial Revolution further. A key invention was thesteam engine that was perfected by James Watt in the late 1790s.Although steam power had been used before, Watt invented ways to makeit practical and efficient to use for both water and landtransportation.
Perhaps the most revolutionary use of steam energy was therailroad engine, which drove English industry after 1820. The firstlong-distance rail line from the coastal city of Liverpool to inlandManchester was an immediate success upon its completion in 1830, andwithin a few decades, most British cities were connected by rail.Railroads revolutionized life in Britain in several ways:
1) Railroads gave manufacturers a cheap way to transport materialsand finished products.
2) The railroad boom created hundreds of thousands of new jobs forboth railroad workers and miners.
3) The railroad industry spawned new industries and inventions andincreased the productivity of others. For example, agriculturalproducts could be transported farther without spoiling, so farmersbenefited from the railroads.
4) Railroads transported people, allowing them to work in citiesfar away from their homes and travel to resort areas for leisure.
The Industrial Revolution occurred only in Britain for about 50years, but it eventually spread to other countries in Europe, theUnited States, Russia, and Japan. British entrepreneurs andgovernment officials forbade the export of machinery, manufacturingtechniques, and skilled workers to other countries but thetechnologies spread by luring British experts with lucrative offers,and even smuggling secrets into other countries. By the mid-19thcentury industrialization had spread to France, Germany, Belgium, andthe United States.
The earliest center of industrial production in continental Europewas Belgium, where coal, iron, textile, glass, and armamentsproduction flourished. By 1830 French firms had employed many skilledBritish workers to help establish the textile industry, and railroadlines began to appear across western Europe. Germany was a littlelater in developing industry, mainly because no centralizedgovernment existed there yet, and a great deal of political unrestmade industrialization difficult. However, after the 1840s Germancoal and iron production skyrocketed, and by the 1850s an extensiverail network was under construction. After German politicalunification in 1871, the new empire rivaled England in terms ofindustrial production.
Industrialization began in the United States by the 1820s, delayeduntil the country had enough laborers and money to invest inbusiness. Both came from Europe, where overpopulation and politicalrevolutions sent immigrants to the United States to seek theirfortunes. The American Civil War (1861-1865) delayed furtherimmigration until the 1870s, but it spurred the need for industrialwar products, all the way from soldiers' uniforms to guns torailroads for troop transport. Once the war was over, cross-countryrailroads were built which allowed more people to claim parts of vastinland America and to reach the west coast. The United States hadabundant natural resources &endash; land, water, coal and iron ore&endash; and after the great wave of immigration from Europe and Asiain the late 19th century &endash; it also had the labor.
During the late 1800s, industrialization spread to Russia andJapan, in both cases by government initiatives. In Russia the tsaristgovernment encouraged the construction of railroads to link placeswithin the vast reaches of the empire. The most impressive one wasthe Trans-Siberian line constructed between 1891 and 1904, linkingMoscow to Vladivostock on the Pacific Ocean. The railroads also gaveRussians access to the empire's many coal and iron deposits, and by1900 Russia ranked fourth in the world in steel production. TheJapanese government also pushed industrialization, hiring thousandsof foreign experts to instruct Japanese workers and mangers in thelate 1800s. Railroads were constructed, mines were opened, a bankingsystem was organized, and industries were started that producedships, armaments, silk, cotton, chemicals, and glass. By 1900 Japanwas the most industrialized land in Asia, and was set to become a20th century power.
Industrialization greatly increased the economic, military, andpolitical strength of the societies that embraced it. By and large,the countries that benefited from industrialization were the onesthat had the necessary components of land, labor and capital, andoften government support. However, even though many other countriestried to industrialize, few had much success. For example, Indiatried to develop jute and steel industries, but the entrepreneursfailed because they had no government support and little investmentcapital. An international division of labor resulted: people inindustrialized countries produced manufactured products, and peoplein less industrialized countries produced the raw materials necessaryfor that production. Industrial England, for example, needed cotton,so turned to India, Egypt, and the American south to produce it forthem. In many cases this division of labor led to colonization of thenon-industrialized areas. As industrialization increased, more ironand coal were needed, as well as other fibers for the textileindustry, and the British Empire grew rapidly in order to meet thesedemands.
Many countries in Latin America, sub-Saharan Africa, south Asia,and southeast Asia became highly dependent on one cash crop - such assugar, cotton, and rubber - giving them the nickname of "BananaRepublics." Such economies were very vulnerable to any change in theinternational market. Foreign investors owned and controlled theplantations that produced these crops, and most of the profits wentto them. Very little of the profits actually improved the livingconditions for people that lived in those areas, and since they hadlittle money to spend, a market economy could not develop.
Despite the inequalities, the division of labor between people incountries that produced raw materials and those that producedmanufactured goods increased the total volume of world trade. Inturn, this increased volume led to better technology, whichreinforced and fed the trade. Sea travel became much more efficient,with journeys that had once taken months or years reduced to days orweeks. By 1914 two great canals shortened sea journeys by thousandsof miles. The Suez Canal built by the British and French in the 1850slinked the Mediterranean Sea to the Red Sea, making it no longernecessary to go around the tip of Africa to get from Europe to Asiaby sea. The Panama Canal, completed in 1913, did a similar thing inthe western hemisphere, cutting a swath through Central America thatencouraged trade and transportation between the Atlantic and PacificOceans.
The Industrial Revolution significantly changed populationpatterns, migrations, and environments. In industrialized nationspeople moved to the areas around factories to work there, citiesgrew, and as a result an overall migration from rural to urban areastook place. This movement was facilitated by the growth of railroadsand improvement of other forms of transportation. This era also sawmigrations on a large scale from Europe and Asia into the Americas,so that the overall population of the western hemisphere increased.However, this movement did not translate into a decrease ofpopulation in the eastern hemisphere. Particularly in Europe, theAgricultural Revolution improved nutrition, especially as the potato(transported from the New World in the previous era) became a maindiet staple for European peasants.
Even as we may debate whether slavery and the slave trade cameabout because of racism or economic benefit, we may argue about whyboth ended during this era. From the beginning, as the Atlantic slavetrade enriched some Africans and many Europeans, it became a topic offierce debate in Europe, Africa, and the Americas in the late 18thcentury. The American and French revolutions stimulated thesediscussions, since both emphasized liberty, equality, and justice,topics that fed a strong abolitionist movement. Because most slaveswere not allowed to learn to read and write, most outspokenabolitionists were free whites in England and North America. However,Africans themselves took up the struggle to abolish slavery and theslave trade, rising in frequent slave revolts in the 18th and 19thcenturies that made slavery an expensive and dangerous business.Probably the most famous African spokespersons was Olaudah Equiano, awest African who published an autobiography in 1789 that recountedhis experiences as a slave in Africa and the New World. He latergained his freedom, learned to read and write, and became active inthe abolitionist movement. Many people read his works, heard himspeak, and were influenced to oppose slavery.
Despite the importance of the abolitionist movement, economicforces also contributed to the end of slavery and the slave trade.Plantations and the slave labor that supported them remained in placeas long as they were profitable. In the Caribbean, a revolution, ledby Toussaint L'Ouverture resulted in the liberation of slaves inHaiti and the creation of the first black free state in the Americas.However, the revolution was so violent that it sparked fear amongplantation owners and colonial governments throughout the Caribbean.In the late 18th century, a rapid increase in Caribbean sugarproduction led to declining prices, and yet prices for slavesremained high and even increased.
Even as plantations experiences these difficulties, profits fromthe emerging manufacturing industries were increasing, so investorsshifted their money to these new endeavors. Investors discovered thatwage labor in factories was cheaper than slave labor on plantationsbecause the owners were not responsible for food and shelter.Entrepreneurs began to see Africa as a place to get raw materials forindustry, not just slaves.
Most European countries and the United States had abolished theslave trade before the mid-19th century: Britain in 1807, the UnitedStates in 1808, France in 1814, the Netherlands in 1817, and Spain in1845. Ardent abolitionists in Britain pressured the government tosend patrol ships to the west coast of Africa to conduct search andseizure operations for ships that violated the ban. The lastdocumented ship that carried slaves on the Middle Passage arrived inCuba in 1867.
The institution of slavery continued in most places in theAmericas long after the slave trade was abolished, with the Britishabolishing slavery in their colonies in 1833. The French abolishedslavery in 1848, the same year that their last king was overthrown bya democratic government. The United States abolished slavery in 1865when the north won a bitter Civil War that had divided the southernslave-holding states from the northern non-slavery states. The lastcountry to abolish slavery in the Americas was Brazil, where theinstitution was weakened by a law that allowed slaves to fight in thearmy in exchange for freedom. Army leaders resisted demands that theycapture and return runaway slaves, and slavery was abolished in 1888,without a war.
Various immigration patterns arose to replace the slave trade.Asian and European immigrants came to seek opportunities in theAmericas from Canada in the north to Argentina in the south. Somewere attracted to discoveries of gold and silver in western NorthAmerica and Canada, including many who made their way west from theeastern United States. However, European and Asian migrants whobecame workers in factories, railroad construction sites, andplantations outnumbered those who were gold prospectors.
By the mid 19th century European migrants began crossing theAtlantic to fill the factories in the eastern United States.Increasing rents and indebtedness drove farmers from Ireland,Scotland, Germany and Scandinavia to North America, settling in theOhio and Mississippi River Valleys in search of land. The potatofamine forced many Irish peasants to make the journey, and politicalrevolutions caused many Germans to flee the wrath of the governmentwhen their causes failed. By the late 19th and early 20th centuries,most immigrants to North America were from southern and easternEurope, fleeing famine, poverty, and discrimination in theircountries of origin.
While migrants to the United States came to fill jobs in thedeveloping industrial society, those who went to Latin America mostlyworked on agricultural plantations. About 4 million Italians came toArgentina in the 1880s and 1890s, and others went to Brazil, wherethe government paid the voyage over for Italian migrants who came towork on coffee plantations after slavery was abolished. Others camefrom Asia, with more than 15,000 indentured laborers from Chinaworking in sugarcane fields in Cuba during the 19th century. Chineseand Japanese laborers came to Peru where they worked on cottonplantations, in mines, and on railroad lines.
This era saw a basic change in the population structures ofindustrialized countries. Large families had always been welcome inagricultural societies because the more people a family had, the moreland they were able to work. Children's work was generally worth morethan it costs to take care of them. However, in the west, includingthe United States, the birth rate declined to historically low levelsin the 19th century. This demographic transition from high birthrates to low reflected the facts that child labor was being replacedby machines and that children were not as useful as they were inagricultural societies. Instead, as life styles changed in urbansettings, it became difficult to support large families, both interms of supporting them with salaries from industrial jobs and inhousing them in crowded conditions in the cities. High birth ratescontinued elsewhere in the world, so the west's percentage of totalworld population began to slip by 1900 even as its world powerpeaked.
Wilderness areas in Europe were virtually gone by 1750, withalmost every piece of land used by farmers or townspeople. However,the process continued during this era, and deforestation became themost serious problem. Americans transformed their lands even morerapidly as people moved west, clearing forests for farms and thenmoving on when the soil was depleted. The cultivation of cotton wasespecially harmful. Planters cut down forests, grew cotton for a fewyears, moved west, and abandoned the land to scrub pines.
Surprisingly, industrialization actually relieved environmentaldepletion in Britain because raw materials once grown on British soil&endash; like wool and grain - were replaced by coal and iron foundunderground. Iron replaced wood in many building structures,including ships, so that deforestation slowed.
The most dramatic environmental changes in industrializedcountries occurred in the towns. Never before had towns grown sofast, and major cities formed. London grew from about 500,000inhabitants in 1700 to more than 2 million by 1850, with the largestpopulation a city had ever had in world history. Cities in the middleindustrial belt of Britain, such as Liverpool and Manchester grewrapidly during this period as well. New York City in the UnitedStates reached about 600,000 in 1850.
Industrialization also transformed social and gender structures incountries where it developed, although it is not entirely clear as towhether the "gender gap" narrowed or widened. By and largeindustrialization widened the gap between the rich and the poor bycreating opportunities for businessmen to be far richer than theupper classes in an agricultural society ever could be. Although theywere free, not forced, laborers, the wages for factory workers werevery low, and many suffered as much if not more poverty than they hadas rural peasants.
Industrialization offered new opportunities to people withimportant skills, such as carpentry, metallurgy, and machineoperations. Some enterprising people became engineers or opened theirown businesses, but for the vast majority of those who left theirfarming roots to find their fortunes in the cities, life was full ofdisappointments. Most industrial jobs were boring, repetitive, andpoorly paid. Workdays were long with few breaks, and workersperformed one simple task over and over with little sense ofaccomplishment. Unlike even the poorest farmer or craftsman, factoryworkers had no control over tools, jobs, or working hours. Factoryworkers could do very little about their predicament until the latterpart of the period, when labor unions formed and helped to provokethe moral conscience of some middle class people. Until then, workerswho dared to go on strike &endash; like the unmarried girls at theLowell mills in Massachusetts &endash; they were simply replaced byother workers from the abundant supply of labor.
Because machinery had to be placed in a large, centrally locatedplace, workers had to go to factories to perform their work, a majorchange in lifestyles from those of agricultural societies. Inprevious days all family members did most of their work on the farm,which meant that the family stayed together most of the time.Division of labor meant that they did different types of work, mostlysplit by gender and age, but the endeavor was a collective one. Evenin the early days of commercialization, "piece work" was generallydone by people at home, and then delivered to the merchant orbusinessman. Now, people left their homes for hours at a time, oftenleaving very early and not returning till very late. Usually bothhusband and wife worked away from home, and for most of this period,so did children. Family life was never the same again.
In the early days of industrialization, the main occupation ofworking women was domestic servitude. If they had small children,they usually tried to find work they could do at home, such aslaundry, sewing, or taking in lodgers. However, even with bothparents working, wages were so low that most families found itdifficult to make ends meet. Most industrialists encouraged workersto bring their children along with them to the factories becausechildren usually could do the work, too, and they were quitecheap.
A major social change brought about by the Industrial Revolutionwas the development of a relatively large middle class, or"bourgeoisie" in industrialized countries. This class had beengrowing in Europe since medieval days when wealth was based on land,and most people were peasants. With the advent of industrialization,wealth was increasingly based on money and success in businessenterprises, although the status of inherited titles of nobilitybased on land ownership remained in place. However, land had neverproduced such riches as did business enterprises of this era, and somembers of the bourgeoisie were the wealthiest people around.
However, most members of the middle class were not wealthy, owningsmall businesses or serving as managers or administrators in largebusinesses. They generally had comfortable lifestyles, and many wereconcerned with respectability, or the demonstration that they were ofa higher social class than factory workers were. They valued the hardwork, ambition, and individual responsibility that had led to theirown success, and many believed that the lower classes only hadthemselves to blame for their failures. This attitude generallyextended not to just the urban poor, but to people who still farmedin rural areas.
The urban poor were often at the mercy of business cycles &endash;swings between economic hard times to recovery and growth. Factoryworkers were laid off from their jobs during hard times, making theirlives even more difficult. With this recurrent unemployment camepublic behaviors, such as drunkenness and fighting, that appalled themiddle class, who stressed sobriety, thrift, industriousness, andresponsibility.
Social class distinctions were reinforced by Social Darwinism, aphilosophy by Englishman Herbert Spencer. He argued that humansociety operates by a system of natural selection, wherebyindividuals and ways of life automatically gravitate to their properstation. According to Social Darwinists, poverty was a "naturalcondition" for inferior individuals.
Changes in gender roles generally fell along class lines, withrelationships between men and women of the middle class being verydifferent from those in the lower classes.
Factory workers often resisted the work discipline and pressuresimposed by their middle class bosses. They worked long hours inunfulfilling jobs, but their leisure time interests fed thepopularity of two sports: European soccer and American baseball. Theyalso did less respectable things, like socializing at bars and pubs,staging dog or chicken fights, and participating in other activitiesthat middle class men disdained.
Meanwhile, most of their wives were working, most commonly asdomestic servants for middle class households, jobs that they usuallypreferred to factory work. Young women in rural areas often came tocities or suburban areas to work as house servants. They often sentsome of their wages home to support their families in the country,and some saved dowry money. Others saved to support ambitions tobecome clerks or secretaries, jobs increasingly filled by women, butsupervised by men.
When production moved outside the home, men who became owners ormanagers of factories gained status. Industrial work kept the economymoving, and it was valued more than the domestic chores traditionallycarried out by women. Men's wages supported the families, since theyusually were the ones who made their comfortable life stylespossible. The work ethic of the middle class infiltrated leisure timeas well. Many were intent on self-improvement, reading books orattending lectures on business or culture. Many factory owners andmanagers stressed the importance of church attendance for all, hopingthat factory workers could be persuaded to adopt middle-class valuesof respectability.
Middle class women generally did not work outside of the home,partly because men came to see stay-at-home wives as a symbol oftheir success. What followed was a "cult of domesticity" thatjustified removing women from the work place. Instead, they filledtheir lives with the care of children and the operation of theirhomes. Since most middle-class women had servants, they spent timesupervising them, but they also had to do fewer household choresthemselves.
Historians disagree in their answers to the question of whether ornot gender inequality grew because of industrialization. Gender roleswere generally fixed in agricultural societies, and if the lives ofworking class people in industrial societies are examined, it isdifficult to see that any significant changes in the gender gap tookplace at all. However, middle class gender roles provide the realbasis for the argument. On the one hand, some argue that women wereforced out of many areas of meaningful work, isolated in their homesto obsess about issues of marginal importance. On the farm, theirwork was "women's work," but they were an integral part of thecentral enterprise of their time: agriculture. Their work in raisingchildren was vital to the economy, but industrialization renderedchildren superfluous as well, whose only role was to grow up safelyenough to fill their adult gender-related duties. On the other hand,the "cult of domesticity" included a sort of idolizing of women thatmade them responsible for moral values and standards. Women were seenas stable and pure, the vision of what kept their men devoted to thetasks of running the economy. Women as standard-setters, then, becamethe important force in shaping children to value respectability, leadmoral lives, and be responsible for their own behaviors. Withoutwomen filling this important role, the entire social structure thatsupported industrialized power would collapse. And who could wish formore power than that?
In 1750 only England and the Netherlands had constitutionalmonarchies, governments that limited the powers of the king or ruler.All the other kingdoms of Europe, as well as the Muslim Empires andChina, practiced absolutism. Absolutist rulers benefited from thetendency for governments to centralize between 1450 and 1750 becauseit extended the power they had over their subjects. Most of therulers reinforced their powers by claiming special authority for thesupernatural, whether it be the mandate of heaven as practiced inChina, or divine right as European kings declared. Between 1750 and1914, absolute rulers almost everywhere lost power, and the rule oflaw became a much more important political principle.
One of the most important political concepts to arise from the erawas the "nation-state," a union often characterized by a commonlanguage, shared historical experiences and institutions, and similarcultural traditions, including religion at both the elite and popularlevels. As a result, political loyalties were no longer so determinedby one's attitudes toward a particular king or noble but by a moreabstract attachment to a "nation."
As the Industrial Revolution began in England, the economicchanges were accompanied by demands for political changes that spreadto many other areas of the world by the end of the 19th century. Twoimportant forces behind the change were: • The influence of the Enlightenment - The 1700s are sometimes referred to as the "Age of Enlightenment," because philosophical and political ideas were begun to seriously question the assumptions of absolute governments. The Enlightenment began in Europe, and was a part of the changes associated with the Renaissance, the Scientific Revolution, and the Protestant Reformation, all taking place between 1450 and 1750. The Enlightenment invited people to use their "reason" using the same humanistic approach of Renaissance times. People can figure things out, and they can come up with better governments and societies. In the 1600s John Locke wrote that a ruler's authority is based on the will of the people. He also spoke of a social contract that gave subjects the right to overthrow the ruler if he ruled badly. French philosophes, such as Voltaire and Jean-Jacques Rousseau spread the new ideas to France, where they began uproar in a land that epitomized absolutism. • New wealth of the bourgeoisie - Ongoing commercialization of the economy meant that the middle class grew in size and wealth, but not necessarily in political power. These self-made men questioned the idea that aristocrats alone should hold the highest political offices. Most could read and write, and found Enlightenment philosophy appealing in its questioning of absolute power. They sought political power to match the economic power that they had gained.
A combination of economic, intellectual, and social changesstarted a wave of revolutions in the late 1700s that continued intothe first half of the 19th century. The started in North America andFrance, and spread into other parts of Europe and to LatinAmerica.
Ironically, the first revolution inspired by the new politicalthought that originated in England began in the North Americancolonies and was directed at England. It began when Americancolonists resisted Britain's attempt to impose new taxes and tradecontrols on the colonies after the French and Indian War ended in1763. Many also resented Britain's attempts to control the movementwest. "Taxation without representation" turned British politicaltheory on its ear, but it became a major theme as the rebellionspread from Massachusetts throughout the rest of the colonies.Colonial leaders set up a new government and issued the Declarationof Independence in 1776. The British sent forces to put the rebelliondown, but the fighting continued for several years until the newlycreated United States eventually won. The United States Constitutionthat followed was based on enlightenment principles, with threebranches of government that check and balance one another. Althoughinitially only a few had the right to vote and slavery was notabolished, the government became a model for revolutions to come.
A very different situation existed in France. No establishednobility existed in the United States, so when independence wasachieved, the new nation had no old social and political structure tothrow off. In contrast, the Revolution in France was a civil war, arising against the Ancien Regime, or the old kingdom that had risenover centuries. The king, of course, had absolute power, but thenobility and clergy had many privileges that no one else had. Socialclasses were divided into three estates: first was the clergy, secondthe nobility, and the Third Estate was everyone else. On the eve ofthe Revolution in 1789, about 97% of the population of France wasthrown into the Third Estate, although they held only about 5% of theland. They also paid 100% of the taxes.
Part of the problem was that the growing class of the bourgeoisiehad no political privileges. They read Enlightenment philosophes,they saw what happened in the American Revolution, and they resentedpaying all the taxes. Many saw the old political and social structureas out of date and the nobles as silly and vain, undeserving of theprivileges they had.
The French Revolution began with King Louis XVI called theEstates-General, or the old parliamentary structure, together for thefirst time in 160 years. He did so only because the country was infinancial crisis brought on by too many wars for power and anextravagant court life at Versailles Palace. Many problems convergedto create the Revolution: the nobles' refusal to pay taxes,bourgeoisie resentment of the king, Louis Vic's incompetence, and aseries of bad harvests for the peasants. The bourgeoisie seizedcontrol of the proceedings and declared the creation of the NationalAssembly, a legislative body that still exists in France today. Theywrote the Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen, modeledafter the American Declaration of Independence, and they set about towrite a Constitution for France.
The years after the revolution began were turbulent ones that sawthe king beheaded and the government taken over by the Jacobins, aradical group that sought equality through executing those thatdisagreed with the government. The Reign of Terror lasted for abouttwo years, with thousands of people guillotined and thousands morefleeing the country. The Jacobin leaders themselves were eventuallyguillotined; the country teetered for several years in disarray, andfinally was swept up by Napoleon Bonaparte as he claimed French gloryin battle. Democracy did not come easily in France.
Napoleon Bonaparte, of minor nobility from the island of Corsica,rose through the ranks of the French military during a time of chaos.He seized the French Government at a time when no one else couldcontrol it. He promised stability and conquest, and by 1812 theFrench Empire dominated Europe to the borders of Russia. His invasionof Russia was unsuccessful, done in by cold winters, long supplylines, and Tsar Alexander It's burn and retreat method that leftFrench armies without food. Finally, an alliance of Europeancountries led by Britain defeated Napoleon in 1815 at Waterloo inmodern day Belgium. Although Napoleon was defeated and exiled, othercountries were horrified by what had happened in France: arevolution, the beheading of a king, a terrorizing egalitariangovernment, and finally a demagogue who attacked all of Europe. Toconservative Europe, France was a problem that had to be containedbefore their ideas and actions spread to the rest of thecontinent.
The allies that had defeated Napoleon met at Vienna in 1815 toreach a peace settlement that would make further revolutionsimpossible. The Congress of Vienna was controlled by therepresentatives of three nations: Britain, Austria, and Russia. Eachcountry wanted something different. The British wanted to destroy theFrench war machine, Russia wanted to establish an alliance based onChristianity, and Austria wanted a return to absolutism. They reachedan agreement based on restoring the balance of power in Europe, orthe principle that no one country should ever dominate the others.Rather, the power should be balanced among all the major countries.France actually came out rather well in the proceedings, due in largepart to the talents of their representative, Tallyrand. However, theCongress restricted France with these major decisions: • Monarchies - including the monarchy in France - were restored in countries that Napoleon had conquered • France was "ringed" with strong countries by its borders to keep its military in check. • The Concert of Europe was formed, an organization of European states meant to maintain the balance of power.
No matter how the Congress of Vienna tried to stem the tide ofrevolution, it did not work in the long run. France was to wobbleback and forth between monarchy and republican government for thirtymore years, and then was ruled by Napoleon III (Bonaparte's nephew)until 1871, when finally a parliamentary government emerged. Andother countries in Europe, as well as colonies in Latin America, hadheard "the shot heard round the world," and the true impact of therevolutionary political ideas began to be felt.
From North America and France, revolutionary enthusiasm spreadthroughout the Caribbean and Spanish and Portuguese America. Incontrast to the leaders of the War for Independence for the UnitedStates, most of the early revolutions in Latin America began withsubordinated Amerindians and blacks. Even before the FrenchRevolution, Andean Indians, led by Tupac Amaru, besieged the ancientcapital of Cuzco and nearly conquered the Spanish army. The Creoleelite responded by breaking the ties to Spain and Portugal, butestablishing governments under their control. Freedom, then, wasinterpreted to mean liberty for the property-owning classes. Only inthe French colony of Saint Domingue (Haiti) did slaves carry out asuccessful insurrection.
The rebellion in 1791 led to several years of civil war in Haiti,even though French abolished slavery in 1793. When Napoleon came topower, he sent an army to tame the forces led by ToussaintL'Ouverture, a former slave. However, Napoleon's army was decimatedby guerrilla fighters and yellow fever, and even though Toussaintdied in a French jail, Haiti declared its independence in 1804.
Other revolutions in Latin America were led by political andsocial elites, although some of them had important populistelements. • Brazil - Portugal's royal family fled to Brazil when Napoleon's troops stormed the Iberian Peninsula. The presence of the royal family dampened revolutionary fervor, especially since the king instituted reforms in administration, agriculture, and manufacturing. He also established schools, hospitals, and a library. The king returned to Portugal in 1821, after Napoleon's threat was over, leaving Brazil in the hands of his son Pedro. Under pressure from Brazilian elites, Pedro declared Brazil's independence, and he signed a charter establishing a constitutional monarchy that lasted until the late 19th century when Pedro II was overthrown by republicans. • Mexico - Father Miguel Hidalgo led Mexico's rebellion that eventually led to independence in 1821. He was a Catholic priest who sympathized with the plight of the Amerindian peasants and was executed for leading a rebellion against the colonial government. The Creole elite then took up the drive for independence that was won under the leadership of Agustin de Iturbide, a conservative military commander. However, Father Hidalgo's cause greatly influenced Mexico's political atmosphere, as his populist ideas were taken up by others who led the people in revolt against the Creoles. Two famous populist leaders were Emiliano Zapata and Pancho Villa, who like Father Hidalgo were executed by the government. Mexico was not to work out this tension between elite and peasants until well into the 20th century. • Spanish South America - Colonial elite - landholders, merchants, and military - also led Spanish colonies in South America in rebellion against Spain. The term "junta" came to be used for these local governments who wanted to overthrow colonial powers. Two junta centers in South America were: 1. Caracas, Venezuela - At first, laborers and slaves did not support this Creole-led junta. However, they were convinced to join the independence movement by Simon de Bolivar, a charismatic military leader with a vision of forging "Gran Columbia," an independent, giant empire in the northern part of South America. He defeated the Spanish, but did not achieve his dream of empire. Instead, regional differences caused the newly independent lands to split into several countries. 2. Buenos Aires, Argentina - Another charismatic military leaders - Jose de San Martin - led armies for independence from the southern part of the continent. His combined Chilean/Argentine forces joined with Bolivar in Peru, where they helped the northern areas to defeat the Spanish. Martin's areas, like those led by Bolivar, also split along regional differences.
All in all, constitutional experiments in North America were moresuccessful than those in South America. Though South Americans gainedindependence from colonial governments during the 19th century, theirgovernments remained authoritarian and no effective legislatures werecreated to share the power with political leaders. Why thisdifference? |COMPARATIVE CONSTITUTIONAL EXPERIMENTS &endash; NORTH AMERICA AND SOUTH AMERICA |
|Mother country had parliamentary government, so colonial governments had a |Mother country governed by absolute monarch; colonial |
|constitutional model |governments had authoritarian model |
|Colonies had previous experience with popular politics; had their own |Colonies had no experience with popular politics; |
|governments that often operated independently from British control |colonial governments led by authoritarian Creoles |
|Military leaders were popular and sometimes became Presidents (Washington, |Had difficulty subduing the power of military leaders;|
|Jackson), but they did not try to take over the government as military |set in place the tradition of military juntas taking |
|leaders; constitutional principle that military would be subordinate to the|over governments |
|government | |
|American Revolution occurred in the 1770s; vulnerable new nation emerged at|Latin American Revolutions occurred during the early |
|an economically advantageous time, when the world economy was expanding |1800s, a time when the world economy was contracting, |
| |a less advantageous time for new nations |

The differences in political backgrounds of the two continents ledto some very different consequences. For the United States (andeventually Canada), it meant that relatively democratic governmentsleft entrepreneurs open to the Industrial Revolution, which, afterall, started in their mother country. For Latin America, it meantthat their governments were less supportive and/or more removed fromthe economic transformations of the Industrial Revolutions, andstable democratic governments and economic prosperity would be a longtime in coming.
The Enlightenment philosophy that inspired revolutions in theUnited States, France, and Latin America brought about lastingchanges in western political ideology, with some people reactingagainst the chaos that revolutions brought, and others inspired bythe values of democracy, liberty, equality, and justice. Threecontrasting ideologies may be seen by the early 1800s: • Conservatism - People who supported this philosophy at first advocated return to absolute monarchy, but came to accept constitutional monarchy by the mid-1800s. Generally, conservatives disapproved of the revolutions of the era, particularly the French Revolution with all the violence and chaos that it brought. • Liberalism - Liberals supported a republican democracy, or a government with an elected legislature who represented the people in political decision-making. These representatives were generally from the elite, but were selected (usually by vote) from a popular base of citizens. Emphasis was generally on liberty or freedom from oppression, rather than on equality. • Radicalism - Radicals advocated drastic changes in government and emphasized equality more than liberty. Their philosophies varied, but they were most concerned with narrowing the gap between elites and the general population. The Jacobins during the French Revolution, and Marxism that appeared in the mid 19th century were variations of this ideological family.
The political values supported by revolutions were embraced bysome who saw them as applying to all people, including women andformer slaves. Values of liberty, equality, and democracy hadprofound implications for change within societies that had alwaysaccepted hierarchical social classes and gender roles. Reformmovements sprouted up as different people put differentinterpretations on what these new political and social valuesactually meant.
Women's Rights
Advocates of women's rights were particularly active in Britain,France, and North America. Mary Wollstonecraft, an English writer,was one of the first to argue that women possessed all the rightsthat Locke had granted to men, including education and participationin political life. Many French women assumed that they would begranted equal rights after the revolution. However, it did not bringthe right to vote or play major roles in public affairs. Since genderroles did not change in the immediate aftermath of revolution, socialreformers pressed for women's rights in North America and Europe.Americans like Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony in theUnited States decided to concentrate their efforts on suffrage, orthe right to vote. A resolution passed at Seneca Falls, New York, in1848, emphasized women's rights to suffrage, as well as to education,professional occupations, and political office. Their movement didnot receive popular support, however, until the 20th century, buttheir activism laid a foundation for large-scale social changelater.
The Limits of the Abolitionist Movement
Although slavery was abolished in Europe and North America by thelate 19th century, blacks did not realize equality within the timeperiod. Although former slaves were guaranteed the right to vote inthe late 1860s in the United States, they were effectively barredfrom political participation by state and local legislation calledJim Crow laws. Blacks all over the Americas tended to have the leastdesirable jobs, limited educational opportunities, and lower socialstatus than whites.
Conservative Reactions to Reform
During the late 1800s two systems of related political thoughtemerged among conservatives to justify inequalities: • Scientific racism - This idea system became popular among conservative thinkers in industrialized societies. It used scientific reasoning and evidence to prove its premise that blacks are physiologically and mentally inferior to whites. The theory generally constructed three main "races" in the world - Caucasian, Mongoloid, and Negroid &endash; and built its arguments that basic differences existed among them that made Negroids inherently inferior to Caucasians. Scientific racism, then, justified the inferior positions that blacks had in the society and the economy. • Social Darwinism - This philosophy justified not racial differences, but differences between the rich and the poor. It used Darwin's theory of natural selection (living things that are better adapted to the environment survive, others don't) to explain why some get rich and others remain poor. In the competition for favored positions and bigger shares of wealth, the strong, intelligent, and motivated naturally defeat the weak, less intelligent, and the lazy. So, people who get to the top deserve it, as do the people who remain at the bottom
Another reaction to the revolution in political thought wasMarxism, The father of communism is generally acknowledged to be KarlMarx, who first wrote about his interpretation of history and visionfor the future in The Communist Manifesto in 1848. He saw capitalism&endash; or the free market &endash; as an economic system thatexploited workers and increased the gap between the rich and thepoor. He believed that conditions in capitalist countries wouldeventually become so bad that workers would join together in aRevolution of the Proletariat (workers), and overcome thebourgeoisie, or owners of factories and other means of production.Marx envisioned a new world after the revolution, one in which socialclass would disappear because ownership of private property would bebanned. According to Marx, communism encourages equality andcooperation, and without property to encourage greed and strife,governments would be unnecessary. His theories took root in Europe,but never became the philosophy behind European governments, but iteventually took new forms in early 20th century Russia and China.
In older forms of political organizations, the glue of politicalunity came from the ruler, whether it is a king, emperor, sultan, orcaliph. Political power generally was built on military might, and aruler controlled the land that he conquered as long as he controlledit. Power was often passed down within one family that based thelegitimacy of their rule on principles that held sway over theirpopulations, often some kind of special contact with the spiritualworld. The era 1750 to 1914 saw the creation of a new type ofpolitical organization - the nation - that survived even if therulers failed. Whereas nations' political boundaries were still oftendecided by military victory, the political entity was much broaderthan control by one person or family. Nations were built onnationalism - the feeling of identity within a common group ofpeople. Of course, these feelings were not new in the history of theworld. However, the force of common identity became a basic buildingblock for nations, political forms that still dominate world politicstoday. Nationalism could be based on common geographical locations,language, religion, or customs, but it is much more complex thanthat. The main idea is that people see themselves as "Americans" or"Italians" or "Japanese," despite the fact that significant culturalvariations may exist within the nation.
Napoleon contributed a great deal to the development of strongnationalism in 19th century Europe. His conquests were done in thename of "France," even though the French monarchy had been deposed.The more he conquered, the more pride people had in being "French."He also stirred up feelings of nationalism within a people that heconquered: "Germans" that could not abide being taken over by theFrench. In Napoleon's day Germany did not exist as a country yet, butpeople still thought of themselves as being German. Instead Germanslived in a political entity known as "The Holy Roman Empire."However, the nationalism that Napoleon invoked became the basis forfurther revolutions, in which people around the world sought todetermine their own sovereignty, a principle that Woodrow Wilsoncalled self-determination.
A combination of economic and political transformations in Europethat began in the 1450 to 1750 era converged between 1750 and 1914 toallow the "west" (including the United States and Australia) todominate the rest of the world. From China to the Muslim states toAfrica, virtually all other parts of the world became the "have nots"to the west's "haves." With political and economic dominance camecontrol in cultural and artistic areas as well.
A major political development inspired by growing nationalism wasthe consolidation of small states into two important new nations: • Italy - Before the second half of the 19th century, Italy was a collection of city-states that were only loosely allied with one another. A unification movement was begun in the north by Camillo di Cavour, and in the north by Giuseppe Garibaldi. As states unified one by one, the two leaders joined, and Italy became a unified nation under King Vittore Emmanuele II. The movement was a successful attempt to escape the historical domination of the peninsula by Spain in the south and Austria in the north. • Germany - The German Confederation was created by the Congress of Vienna in 1815, but it had been controlled by the Austrian and Prussian Empires. In 1848 major rebellions broke out within the confederation, inspired by liberals who envisioned a German nation ruled by parliamentary government. The revolutions failed, and many liberals fled the country, but they proved to be an excuse for the Prussian army to invade other parts of the Confederation. The Prussian military leader was Otto von Bismarck, who subjugated the rebels and declared the beginning of the German Empire. The government was a constitutional monarchy, with Kaiser Wilhelm I ruling, but for a number of years, Bismarck had control. He provoked three wars &endash; with Denmark, Austria, and France &endash; and appealed to German nationalism to create a strong new nation in the heart of Europe. He pronounced it the "2nd Reich" or ruling era (the 1st was the Holy Roman Empire and the 3rd was set up by Adolph Hitler in the 20th century).
These new nations altered the balance of power in Europe, causingestablished nations like Britain and France concern that their ownpower was in danger. Nationalism, then, was spurred on by a renewalof deep-rooted competition that European nations carried to the endsof the earth. They competed with one another through trade,industrial production, and colonization, setting up worldwide empiresto bolster their attempts to outdo all the others.
The Russian and Ottoman Empires - two land-based powers in Eurasia- suffered the disadvantages of being neighbors to the rising nationsin Europe. Russia had its wins and losses during the era yet managedto retain its power, but the Ottomans were in steep decline duringmost of the period and on the brink of destruction by 1914.
The Russian Empire turned its attention to the west under the late17th and early 18th century rule of Peter the Great. His moves tobuild Russia into a great western empire were reinforced by tsarCatherine the Great in the late 18th century. Although the tensionbetween Slavic traditions and the new western orientation remained,Russia retained its growing reputation as a world power, especiallyafter resisting Napoleon's invasion in 1812. However, Russia in themid-19th century was a huge, diverse realm that was very difficult torule from a central location, even with the power granted to anabsolute tsar. Its economy remained agriculturally based, with mostpeople as serfs bound to the land that they cultivated.
Russia got into trouble with powerful England and France, when itsformidable army attacked the Ottoman Empire to seize access to warmwater ports around the Black Sea. Fearful of an upset in Europeanbalance of power, England and France supported the Ottomans indefeating Russian troops in the Crimean War (1853-1856). This defeatclearly showed Russian weakness, and it led Tsar Alexander II toattempt reform by emphasizing industrialization, creating electeddistrict assemblies called zemstvos, and emancipating the serfs.
Russia's instability became apparent when Alexander II wasassassinated by one of the many revolutionary groups that weregrowing rapidly within the country. Some of these revolutionarygroups were Marxist, and their influence would eventually take overthe country in 1917. However, Russia continued on under absolute ruleuntil then, with an intense state-run industrialization program thatdid modernize Russia by the end of the 19th century.
The Ottoman Empire reached its peak during the 16th and 17thcenturies when they won many of their encounters with Europeankingdoms, although their attack of Europe was stopped with theirunsuccessful siege of Vienna. By the early 1800s the Ottoman Empirehad many internal problems, including these: • Economic problems - Military officers owned most of the land, a fact that created a great deal of resentment from others. Since military were exempt from taxes, the government had problems getting enough revenue to keep the army and government functioning. "Tax farming" &endash; or relying on middlemen to collect taxes &endash; became corrupt, and their demands created resentment from the taxpayers. • Problems with the Janissaries - The Janissaries originally were Christian boys from the Balkans that had been recruited by the Ottomans to fight in their armies. By the early 1800s, the Janissaries were well established as military and political leaders. They often operated separately from the weakening sultan's court and gained a reputation form brutality and corruption. • Revolts in the Balkans and Greece - At their heart, these revolts were evidence of nationalism &endash; Balkan and Greek people who had loyalties to their ethnic identities, not the Ottoman Empire. Many people in these Christian areas resented Ottoman control, and they were inspired to revolt when janissary governors treated them brutally. The Balkans appealed to Russia for help, which eventually led Russia to invade the Ottoman Empire, sparking the Crimean War. Greece gained its independence, supported in large part by western European nations. Most famously, the English poet Lord Byron, who fought and died in the Greek Revolution, saw the battle as one between western civilization (with roots in Ancient Greece) and the Islamic Ottomans.
When the Russians attack started the Crimean War, the Ottomanswere aided by England and France. Even though Russia was defeated, animportant result of the war was that the Ottomans found themselvesincreasingly dependent on western Europe. Even before the war, weakOttoman rulers tried to restore their power by imposing westernreforms, such as trials, rules of law, separation of church andstate, and a Magna Carta type document. Young people were sent toFrance to learn modern military techniques and medicine. Educationreforms featured textbooks written in French, and the army adoptedFrench-style uniforms. The nickname that western nations bestowed onthe Ottomans reflected their attitudes about the empire: "the sickman of Europe."
The decline of Ottoman power and prosperity had a strong impact ona group of urban and well-educated young men who protested Europeandomination of the empire's political, economic, and cultural life.Inspired by the European nationalist movements, they began to callthemselves the Young Turks, and they pushed for a Turkish nationalstate. A constitution was granted in 1876, but was later rescindedunder a new sultan. However the Young Turk movement continued onthrough the era.
Empire building is an old theme in world history. Societies havesought to dominate weaker neighbors as long ago as ancientMesopotamia and Egypt, all the way through to the present.Motivations have been similar - to obtain natural resources, tosubdue enemies, to accrue wealth, to win power and glory - but untilthe rise of the west, most empires have expanded to territories nextto their borders. With the combination of sea power, centralizedgovernments, and industrialized economies, European nations set outto build empires all over the world, like none that had been seenbefore. They were driven by the need to provide raw materials fortheir industrial capacity, and the types of goods exchanged weredetermined by that need.
Europeans began building their empires in the western hemispherein the early 1500s, but by the 1800s, Spain and Portugal were nolonger powerful countries, and the largest British colony had becomethe United States. Britain, France, Germany, Russia, and theNetherlands continued to colonize during this era, but they alsodevised other ways to spread their empires. In the late 19th centuryJapan and the United States joined the European nations as animperialist power.
Types of imperialism in the 1800s included: • Colonial imperialism - This form of imperialism is virtual complete takeover of an area, with domination in all areas: economic, political, and socio-cultural. The subjugated area existed to benefit the imperialist power, and had almost no independence of action. In this era, almost all of Africa and southern and southeast Asia were colonized. • Economic imperialism - This form of imperialism allowed the area to operate as its own nation, but the imperialist nation almost completely controlled its trade and other business. For example, it may impose regulations that forbid trade with other nations, or imperialist companies may own or have exclusive rights to its natural resources. During this era, China and most of Latin America were subjected to economic imperialism. • Political imperialism - Although a country may have had its own government with natives in top political positions, it operated as the imperialist country told it to. The government was sometimes a relatively permanent "puppet government," as happened in late Qing China, and other times the control was temporary, as occurred in the Dominican Republic when the United States ran its government until it got out of debt. • Socio-cultural imperialism - The dominating country deliberately tried to change customs, religions and languages in some of the countries. A good example was British India, where English was taught in schools, Indian soldiers dressed British-style, and western trading rules were set up. Generally, the imperialist countries assumed their cultures to be superior, and often times they saw themselves as bringing about improvements in the society.
Between 1450 and 1750 Europeans traded with Africa, but they setup very few colonies. By 1850, only a few colonies existed alongAfrican coastlines, such as Algeria (French), the Cape Colony (GreatBritain,) and Angola (Portugal). Instead, free African statescontinued, and after the end of the slave trade in the early 1800s, alively exchange took place between Europeans and African states, suchas the Sokoto Caliphate in western Africa and Egypt and Ethiopia innortheast Africa. They traded manufactured goods for gold, ivory,palm oil (a substance used in soap, candles, and lubricants). Underthe leadership of Muhammad Ali¸ and his grandson Ismail¸Egypt grew to be the strongest Muslim state of the 19th century,producing cotton for export and employing western technology andbusiness methods. They benefited from the American Civil War, whencotton shipments from the southern U.S. were cut off, but theEgyptian cotton market collapsed after American shipments resumedafter the Civil War was over.
In the latter half of the 19th century, dramatic changes occurred,as Europeans began to explore Africa's interior, and by 1914,virtually the entire continent was colonized by one or the other ofthe competing European countries. European imperialists built on theinformation provided by adventurers and missionaries, especially thefamous Dr. David Livingstone and Henry Stanley. Livingstone, aScottish missionary, went to Africa in the 1840s and spent threedecades exploring the interior of Africa and setting up missionaryoutposts all the way from central Africa to the Cape Colony on thesouthern tip. When people in Britain lost contact with Livingstone,journalist Henry Stanley became a news sensation when he traveled toAfrica and found Livingstone. The two sparked interest in Africa andothers followed, including the imperialists.
Belgium was one of the first countries to sponsor expeditions todevelop commercial activities, first establishing the Congo FreeState under the direction of Belgium's King Leopold II, andeventually seizing it as the Belgian Congo. This event set off theScramble for Africa, in which Britain, France, Germany, and Italycompeted with Belgium for land in Africa. The Berlin Conference of1884-5, in an effort to avoid war, allowed European diplomats to drawlines on maps and carve Africa into colonies. The result was atransformation of political and economic Africa, with virtually allparts of the continent colonized by 1900.
With the Mughal Empire significantly weakened, the Frenchestablished trading cities along the Indian coast during the 18thcentury, but the British East India Company had pushed them out bythe early 1800s. The British were still following the model ofgovernment support for private companies that they had used incolonizing North America during the 19th century. The company forcedthe Mughals to recognize company rule first over Bengal, and when theold Mughal Empire was defeated in the 18th century by Iranian armies,the British pushed for economic control over more and more areas.Again India fell into the familiar pattern of decentralizedindependent states ruled by nawabs, native princes who had nominallysupported the Mughal emperor, and the company made agreements withthem that were economically advantageous to the British.
The British "Raj" - 1818-1857
India was under "company" rule for almost forty years, but theywere not actually a British colony during that time because theBritish East India Company was still private, even though the Britishgovernment supported it. However, the company administeredgovernmental affairs and initiated social reform that reflectedBritish values. At the same time, they depended on the nawabs tosupport them, and so they also had to abide by Indian customs andrules as well. The contradictory roles they played eventually eruptedin the Sepoy Rebellion of 1857. The Sepoys were Indian Muslims andHindus who served the British as soldiers in the army that defendedthe subcontinent. The rebellion took the British by surprise, butthey found out that the Indian fury could be traced to a new trainingtechnique that the soldiers refused to follow. It required them toput a bullet shell in their mouths that had been greased in eitherpork or beef fat, with the pork fat being highly offensive to theMuslims and the beef to the Hindu. The British changed the practice,but it was too late because nationalism had reached India, too, and amovement for a country based on Indian identity was beginning. Theleaders of the movement would have to wait about 90 years, though, tofulfill their dreams.
British Rule - 1857-1947
The Sepoy Rebellion showed the British government how serious theproblems in India were, and they reacted by removing the British EastIndia Company from control and declaring India a British colony.British officials poured into India to keep control of its valuableraw materials for industry and trade, particularly cotton and poppiesfor opium. They expanded production, built factories in India, andconstructed huge railroad and irrigation, and telegraph systems.
Rising Indian Nationalism
With growing industrialization and British controlled trade, amiddle class of Indian officials and managers began to rise duringthe late 1800s. By and large, the British did not allow Indians toown companies or to hold top government positions, but they didprovide education for people to fill middle level and professionaljobs. Some Indians went to England for higher education, where theyabsorbed western political values of liberty, equality, and justice,and they began to apply those values to their own situations. Forexample, the Brahmo Samaj movement, led by Rammouhan Roy, advocatedunity for Indians by combining traditional and modern ways. TheIndian National Congress was formed in 1885, with the goals ofpromoting political unity and appointing more Indians into higherpositions in the British Civil Service. The Congress was controlledby Hindus, and in 1906 another nationalist group was established forMuslims called the All-India Muslim League. Despite tensions betweenthem, by 1914 both groups were demanding Indian independence from theBritish.
Were the British merely exploiting Indians for profit, or werethey trying to "do the right thing" for India? Certainly the profitmotive was strong, especially apparent in the takeover in the earlyyears by the British East India Company, a profit-driven company.However, many British people of the time insisted that a major goalsfor the government was to improve Indian lives through modernizationof their country. Perhaps the most famous defense for British motiveswas The White Man's Burden, a poem by Rudyard Kipling that promotesthe vision of a British world leadership idealistically improving thelives of people in the areas they dominated. Of course, the IndianNational Congress and the All-India Muslim League did not agree.
After the long and prosperous rules of Kangxi and Qianlong in the17th and 18th centuries, problems of the Qing Dynasty began to mountduring the early 19th century. It suffered from many old land-basedailments, such as long borders to defend and the challenge of keepingtransportation and communication routes operating, but they alsofaced other serious issues. The Manchu, rulers of the Qing dynasty,were originally a northern group that conquered the Han Chinese underMing rule. Han Chinese, as they did under Mongol rule, pushed forrestoration of rule to the natives. The dynasty also began toexperience significant revolts from minorities, and the government,under an increasingly corrupt line of rulers, was not able to dealwith them properly. As the Chinese dynastic cycle was clearly goinginto decline, Europeans sensed the problems, and began to push fortrading rights that China had been reluctant to grant in earliertimes.
The Opium Wars (1839-1842)
In 1759 Emperor Qianlong had restricted European commercialpresence to Guangzhou, a port in the southeastern part of China.There the trade was very much supervised by Chinese under the cohongsystem, with specially licensed Chinese firms operating undergovernment set prices. Trade with Europeans was also restricted bythe fact that Europeans had very little that the Chinese wanted tobuy, even though the reverse was far from true. So the British EastIndia Company, using Turkish and Persian expertise) grew opium inIndia and shipped it to China. As a result, trade boomed, especiallyonce the Chinese developed addictions to the drug. The weak Qinggovernment failed to act, even after some Chinese officials began tosupport the trade by accepting bribes. In 1838, with about 40,000chests of opium coming into Guangzhou that year, the governmentfinally tried to stop it.
The Opium Wars began after the Qing refused to listen to Britishprotests of the trade ban. The British sent well-armed infantry andgunboats to attack first Chinese coastal villages, and eventuallytowns along the Grant Canal. The British used the Canal to reachinland areas, fought the ill-equipped villagers all the way to theYellow River, when the Qing surrendered. Although the British did nottake over the government, they forced the Qing to sign a treatyallowing the trade.
The Unequal Treaties
The Treaty of Nanjing, signed by the Chinese after the Opium Wars,was oriented toward trade. The Chinese agreed to allow the trade ofopium and open other ports to exclusive trade with Britain. Beyondthat, it gave the British control of Hong Kong (near Guangzhou), andit released Korea, Vietnam, and Burma from Chinese control. This wasthe first of many unequal treaties signed by Asians with Europeannations, and they eventually led to "spheres of influence." China wasdivided up into trading spheres, giving each competing Europeannation exclusive trading rights in a particular areas. By the early20th century, virtually all of China was split into these areas, andthe Qing government was virtually powerless.
The Taiping Rebellion - 1850-1864
The Qing Dynasty was significantly weakened by the TaipingRebellion, a revolt led by Hong Xiuquan, a village schoolteacher whohated the Manchus as foreigners. He gathered support among poor andunhappy farmers, and under his charismatic leadership, his armiescaptured the city of Nanjing as their capital, and came very close totoppling the government in Beijing. Hong was an unusual leader,believing that he was the younger brother of Jesus, and advocatingabolition of private property and equality for women. The Chinesegovernment finally ended the civil war, with a great deal of helpfrom the Europeans, but the cost to the country was about 20-30million killed in this 14-year struggle.
Although it is difficult to see the Taiping Rebellion asnationalism, its leader's ideas were similar in many ways to theradical political movements in the west. Chinese nationalism was moreapparent in the 1900 Boxer Rebellion, in which a group called theBoxers led an army against the Qing with the express purpose ofrecovering "China for the Chinese." The group fed on their efforts torid the country of European interests, and even though the rebellionwas unsuccessful, the Boxers laid the foundations for the 1911Chinese Revolution that finally ended the Qing Dynasty.
By the late 1800s, two non-European nations- the United States andJapan &endash; were rising to power through industrialization andimperialism. Both were destined to become important world powers inthe 20th century.
The United States
As industrialization enriched and empowered the United States inthe late 19th century, the country also began to experiment withimperialism. It began with the purchase of Alaska from Russia, andfollowed with a coup of the native government in Hawaii, a plotsponsored by American planters and growers in the Hawaiian Islands.Both Alaska and Hawaii became territories, and although manyquestioned the wisdom of the Alaska purchase, the Hawaii takeoverclearly had an economic motive.
After a quarrel over Cuban independence, the United Statesdefeated Spain in the Spanish American War in 1898, a fairly easytask since Spain was long past the peak of her colonial power. Thepeace treaty gave the Philippines, Puerto Rico, and the Pacificisland of Guan to the United States as protectorates, as well asconsiderable economic control of Cuba. To keep their new empireintact, President Theodore Roosevelt advocated the building of apowerful American navy, and the United States sponsored the buildingof the Panama Canal to allow the new Great White Fleet access to botheast and west coasts of the country.
United States sea captain Matthew Perry may take some credit forthe destruction of the Tokugawa Shogunate. By the mid 19th centurythe Japanese were most concerned about European incursions in China,and so they kept up their guard against Europeans trying to invadetheir islands from the south. They were most surprised when Perryarrived from the east with his demands for opening of Japan to tradewith the United States through an "unequal treaty." That was all thedaimyos needed to joint together in an insurrection against theTokugawa, who indeed signed such a treaty. To legitimize their cause,the daimyos fought in the name of the emperor, and when they won,they declared that the legitimate government had been "restored." TheMeiji Restoration took advantage of the fact that their geographymade them less strategically important than the Chinese, so that theEuropeans and Americans tended to leave them alone. They were left totheir own devices - to create a remarkable state that built thefoundations for Japan as a world power.
The Meiji (meaning "enlightened rule") claimed to have endedcenturies of shogun-dominated governments that made the emperortotally powerless. They mystified and revered the position of theemperor, who became a very important symbol for Japanese unity.However, the new state did not give the emperor any real power,either. Japanese nationalism was built on the mysticism of theemperor, anxiety over the foreign threat, and an amazingtransformation of Japan's military, economy, and government. Thecountry was ruled by oligarchs, a small group of leaders who togetherdirected the state. They borrowed heavily from the west toindustrialize their country and to build a centralized, strongmilitary. They gradually but systematically dissolved the daimyo andsamurai classes, and they placed a great deal of emphasis on buildinga strong education system.
The era from 1750-1914 was clearly one of growing European powerand domination of the globe. Industrialization created unprecedentedwealth, and new western political ideas spawned strong, centralizedstates that directed empires around the world. However, the newpolitical ideas encouraged nationalism, which on the one handstrengthened the industrialized countries, but on the other handcaused the people that they dominated to resent their control. Thepotential for worldwide power and riches also intensified theconflict and competition that had long existed among European states.In 1914 these conflicts came to the surface and erupted into a GreatWar that ushered in the new, very different era of the 20thcentury.
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