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European History of Imperialism

J.A Hobson, a very influential publicist with outlandish but brilliant thoughts, had a tremendous impact on both his time period and future posterity on the subject of Imperialism. However, just like any famous subject or discussion, there are those that rebuttal one’s thoughts or feelings. Many scholars, statesmen, and government officials had their own feelings on Imperialism, which are stated in the documents given.

These individuals state their attitudes to the answer of the question, “What accounted for the colonial expansion of Europe in the 19th century?” Some of these thoughts show Hobson’s views as more of a weaker argument, which clashes his thought of Imperialism being the source of the imperial force being certain industrial, financial, and professional classes seeking personal advantages out of the expansion.

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Frank Swettenham and Lord Grey, both British Colonial officers, feel that the European governments trying to handle it themselves did not always accommodate the infiltration of a region, but rather there were native opportunities and elements that persuaded the foreign people to join in. In document 4 written by Lord John Russell, the British prime minister of the 1850s, he states that everyone knows the true answer to becoming strong as a nation.

The answer is that the countries and colonies that provide these nations with goods and territory, will always help during peace, but will always pay off during the war. This is contradicting the statements of Hobson saying that these acts are not selfish or self-indulgent, but rather for the gain of strength and protection for all.

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As seen in document 5, a governor writes about the risks involved with imperialism and the consequences suffered if their results are not successful. All these documents were written in the pre Age of Imperialism, but still were major contributors of the contradiction of J.A. Hobson and his ideas.

There was much to be said about the White supremacy being a factor in Europe during the Age of Imperialism. This also tied into the thought of countries providing aid, but also being a survival of the fittest. As stated in a document by Rudyard Kipling, he feels that the white man, the strong man, is sent to fend for the country or nation, gaining territory and power by taking over that of the more primitive cultures.

He says that the white man forever stays superior to the black and yellow races. In other documents written by such people as Lord Salisbury and Julius Ferry, who believe there will always be people that are not crazy about the concept of imperialism, but though they tried and did not succeed.

They also feel that they let those people suffer, the poor regions cannot take in a new culture, and forever be behind the European ways and white civilization. It is also stated that it is imperative to constantly have the justification of these foreign nations, for if not they might fall back to the past ways of ineffectiveness and insecurity. But, ones opposed to such an egotistical thinking style, still were to believe that this is nothing more than an overpowering action and attempt to furthermore conceal their selfish motives.

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This bullying is clearly stated in document 8 saying that the soldiers will not be denied. Showing that these soldiers will force the good word upon people with guns and artillery. Maybe it will be better in the end, but for now, it is showing the true imperialism of this time period.

It is becoming quite perceptible that this attitude for man took a road for the worse when it got to the point of killing people in an inhumane way in greediness for more power. In documents 14 and 18, it is showing the real truth of the survival of the fittest. It stated that the weak shouldn’t even be considered when talking about expansion. The bigger region should stay on course to achieving power and not let the weaker peasants interfere in the bigger picture.

It was not always clear the intent of imperialism but stated in such documents by Count Witte, it showed that the direct need of expansion lied in the hands of the ability to take in ports and cities for transportation. Along with this though it was needed to take over cities in Asia and the Northwest Territories, which at the time was a very risky thing to do. It was known though, that for expansion to be successful, it was critical to have port cites, villages, and no threats to gain rule. Power seems to be the central idea behind imperialism and the thoughts and crazed ideas or expansion that should follow.

To try and say that Hobson was wrong in his central ideas would not only be wrong but also would be insufficient. As most of the documents state, taking over and bullying other smaller nations for their territory was obviously not done to aid these ailing people, but to rather gain power for their self-interests.

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There is not one document in here, that I believe, that supports their feelings clear that the reason for imperialism in Europe was to help the unfortunate and provide protection for all. Instead, most all of these documents show the pure greed and cowardice a country or region would go to for power. Although power is needed in the long run, it is definitely not needed if by getting it, the white man stays superior, death is present, and force is used against.

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European History of Imperialism. (2021, Feb 18). Retrieved March 22, 2023, from