When studying the British Empire it is important to look at the different phases and period of the Empire. Many Historians take the view that the British Empire can be split into two ‘Empires’: the ‘First Empire’ and the ‘Second Empire’. The credibility and legitimacy of this theory is often debated. The theory involves the belief that the British Empire can split into a ‘first and second empire’ following the American Revolutionary War, the main factors being the change of politic and economic policies, with a change of focus in British colonial expansion, from North America to Africa and Asia, the main changes in polices being the economic change and free trade, and the rise of the imperialism empire.
There is a lot of evidence to suggest that the theory of two empires is justified.
Many historians, such as Nicholas Canny , see the end of the American Revolutionary War as the end of the ‘First Empire’ and the start of the ‘Second Empire’. The loss of the 13 colonies came as a surprise to the Britain Empire. The war had shown the limits of the British Empire 's colonial empire which relied on mercantilism to keep the empire financially and economically secure. The British government feared a similar revolution to happen not just in other parts of the Empire, but also Britain itself.
However, the loss of the 13 colonies did have certain positive consequents for the British Empire. The end of the war in 1783 left France bankrupt, while the Empire’s economy had soared due to the revival of American business, and the resulting trade with these businesses, this had consolidated Britain place as the leading power in the world. Nicholas Canny believes that loss of the American colonies had allowed Britain to face with the Revolutio...
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...the idea of the 'webs of empire ', these webs consisted of the movement of ideas, people, money, arguments and books, which made up the British Empire.
Despite the other frameworks, which bring a particular emphasis to the cultural development of the British Empire due to the significance of the combined factors of the change of the economic system along with the development of imperialism following the loss the 13 colonies in 1783, the British empire made the transition from a colonial power into the leading world superpower due to political and economic reasons, due to this transition, the theory of a ‘First and Second Empire’ is generally accepted by most historians, and is commonly used to in relation of the study of the British Empire, although one may want to use other theoretical framework to study the British Empire in order to get a thorough understanding.
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