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The Compelling Motives of European Imperialism Essay

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The Compelling Motives of Imperialism


The presence of Europe in Africa in the late nineteenth century was one of extreme power. The countries of France, Britain, and Germany had especially large claims to the African continent during this time. The motives of imperialism for these countries greatly define Europe at this time. Insatiable desires for economic markets, power and political struggles, the motivating belief in Social Darwinism, and the European idea of superiority were the driving forces at the European home front in the late nineteenth century. Many of the causes for imperialism in Africa were evident in Joseph Conrad’s turn of the century novel, Heart of Darkness.

Successful domination of Africa was not attainable prior to the eighteen hundreds. The obstacles of travel and disease were too powerful to overcome. However, with the development of the steamship and the protection from malaria in the form of quinine, Europeans tackled Africa with a renewed energy (Sanderson “Imperialism notes”). A European council congregated in 1885 and drew up the Berlin Act, which was responsible for the carving of Africa into pieces of land for the major imperialistic powers in Europe (Lehmann “The Scramble for Africa”). Political and nationalistic rivals were fueled and each European power desired to prosper greater than their competitors did. Political goals were often achieved through imperialism. Countries competed for “strategic passages” and “overseas bases” in locations throughout Africa (Lehmann “European Imperialism). The goals of achieving the most power and wealth from various regions through imperialistic measures were realized during the age of imperialism.

A new source of economic resources for eve...


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...rialism in the nineteenth century.

Links and Works Cited:

http://www.usd.edu/honors/HWB/1999/1999f/index.htm Clayton Miles Lehmann compiled this website. It is based upon Imperialism, with my attention to “European Imperialism” and “The Scramble for Africa”. There is also a map depicting the carving of Africa.

http://www.angelfire.com/tx/sandersonAP/NotesImp.htm This website provides note-like structured description of European imperialism by Dr. Sanderson. It highlights reasons for imperialism and different areas that were imperialized.

http://www.hcc.hawaii.edu/~patrick/151/africa.htm Patrick M. Patterson designed this website. A description of Africa before European imperialism is provided here. There are also explanations of the delay of imperialism and some causes of it.

Conrad, Joseph. Heart of Darkness. New York: The Modern Library, 1999.


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