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European Colonization During the Nineteenth Century

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Motivation for Expansion

During the nineteenth century, the Industrial Revolution gave certain countries in Western Europe a big boost of economic power. France, Britain, Italy, and Germany emerged as industrialized powers, with high population and high production. During a time when Social Darwinism was popular, it was only natural that these nations compete with each other for survival. The most important motivation for Europeans to colonize during the 19th and 20th centuries was to strengthen their own countries in order to compete with the other European powers.

One of the major ways a colony can strengthen a nation is by providing it with another economic market. As a result of Industrialization, production was too high for consumer demand in Europe. Jules Ferry wrote an appeal to the French, urging colonization. In his appeal he wrote, "The European consumer-goods market is saturated: unless we declare modern society bankrupt and prepare, at the dawn of he twentieth century, for its liquidation by revolution (the consequences of which we can scarcely foresee), new consumer markets will have to be created in other parts of the world" (pg.259 source3). Meaning that unless there is another market to sell national products to, then employment could decline drastically within the nation and eventually cause revolution. Englishman, Joseph Chamberlain, once gave a speech to the Birmingham Relief Association in 1894. In this speech Chamberlain stated, "That in order that we may have more employment to give we must create more demand" (pg.259 source4). This proves that the idea of a foreign market as a means of economic power was widespread among Europeans at the time. Both an Englishman and a Frenchmen used the same argumen...

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...ut England and how they are superior in colonization, and he even quotes French Economist Leroy Beaulieu saying "The greatest nation in the world is the one that colonizes the most; if it is not that today, it will be tomorrow" (pg.255 source1). These examples prove that nationalism comes also with a kind of paranoia, a fear that other European nations could become greater then them.

There were many motivations for Europeans to colonize Africa and Asia. The new markets and the source of raw materials that the colonies could provide, offered economic growth to the home country. Nationalism is another motivation, countries want to keep improving, and they believe nationalism is the only way to do that. The most important motivation for Europeans to colonize was to compete with the other European powers. Everyone wanted more power, and colonies provided that power.
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