Aims of 19th Century Imperialism

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What were the aims of the 19th century imperial countries and how successful were they in achieving these aims.

Imperialism could be defined as a policy of a country of gaining new territories and establishing nation’s dominance of political, economic, and social life of another territories or countries. This policy was the main trend in the global politics in the end of the 18th and beginning of the 19th centuries. The main countries involved in the imperialism were such major European countries as France, Great Britain, Germany, Russia, Italy and, in addition to that, the developing United States of America. The events that took place at that period of time could be described as a competition between the most powerful countries of the world, with the aim of conquering new territories, expanding political power and gaining prestige, getting economical profits with the new overseas resources and possibilities of transportation, and many other social factors, such as spreading Christianity and culture. There was a very positive influence on imperialistic countries in the near-term outlook, as in the most cases their aims were achieved, but taking into account the events that followed the period of the burst of imperialism, e.g. two World Wars, it can be noticed that the total cost of the imperialistic era was very high for those countries.

One of the main aims of imperialistic countries of that period was expansion of their territorial possessions. In general, the wishes of imperialistic countries to expand are caused by two types of their needs. In the first case, which is represented best by the Unites States and Russian Empire, the main accent was made on gaining new territories located close to their borders, so that the territory of the country itself became bigger. Both countries acquired huge contiguous tracts of land, which were usually empty of populations expect of some small groups of aborigines. For instance, Russia did that with territories in China and Persia, the US expanded tremendously to the west and south seizing former Mexican provinces (e.

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g. California, Texas, New Mexico). In the case of the US it must be mentioned, that the US was a young developing country, a former colony itself. Even though, this issue whether the US should be a colonizing power or not was largely discussed in the American society, seizing new territories was the way how the country consisting just of 13 states transformed into a world major power with its 50 states.


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