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Why did the British want an Empire in India?

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On the 31st of December in the year 1600, ‘The Governor and Company of Merchants of London Trading into the East Indies’ received a Royal Charter to be England’s trading representative in India. By they early part of the 17th Century, Britain had already eclipsed Portuguese interests in India. The company bought in cotton, silk, indigo, opium, saltpeter and tea mainly in exchange for silver bullion. These were valuable commodities in Britain at that time. By 1720, 15% of British imports were from India.

The original motive of the East India company was almost certainly a desire for personal monetary profit, but there were certainly other reasons for the further expansion into India. As the Industrial revolution began in Britain the commodities from India became much more needed. Britain’s relationship with France, historically poor, was getting worse, this culminated in the Seven Years’ War of 1756-63. France had succeeded the Dutch and Portuguese in becoming the chief rival to the British interest in India.

India was very important to the British by this time and France’s bid at taking did not make them happy. This threat came from the French East India Company, founded in 1664 to compete with the British and Dutch stakes in India. This gave the British an incentive other than just a desire of wealth, it was a patriotical call.

It was only in 1765 than Britain began to officially think about India as a possible colony. The Company was not able to govern the hu...

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