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The British Empire, 1815 - 70. Main characteristics: It was hardly a uniform association; It had no single constitution, religion, language or system of law; The colonies of the empire had very little in common with each other except their link with Britain;. The British Empire in 1815.

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The British Empire, 1815 - 70

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The british empire 1815 70

The British Empire, 1815 - 70


The british empire in 1815

Main characteristics:

  • It was hardly a uniform association;

  • It had no single constitution, religion, language or system of law;

  • The colonies of the empire had very little in common with each other except their link with Britain;

The British Empire in 1815


The british empire in 18151

  • There was wide variation in the forms of rule:

    • India was ruled by a private charter company;

    • Canada was ruled by an all-powerful Governor appointed by the British government;

    • Ascension Island was ruled by a Captain in the Royal Navy.

The British Empire in 1815


The british empire in 18152

  • The major decisions regarding the Empire were taken by the Colonial Office, a small sub-branch of the War Office;

  • The British government was normally too concerned with domestic politics to play a leading role in colonial affairs;

  • Apathy was the normal state of affairs.

The British Empire in 1815


The british empire in 18153

  • Only in matters concerning TRADE the British government had a coherent policy in 1815.

The British Empire in 1815


The british empire in 18154

  • The Navigations Acts ensured that all of a colony’s imports and exports were carried by British ships.

The British Empire in 1815


The british empire in 18155

  • British goods were given a monopoly in colonial markets.

  • The colonies were only allowed to export goods not produced in Britain.

The British Empire in 1815


The british empire in 18156

  • Protective tariffs were used to freeze out foreign goods.

  • There is no doubt that the colonies of the British Empire existed primarily for the benefit of the British economy, at the expense of their own social, economic and political development.

The British Empire in 1815


The british empire in 18157

  • The disparate Empire served three important functions:

    • it conferred great-power status on Britain as the world’s major colonial power;

The British Empire in 1815


The british empire in 18158

  • the Empire provided Britain with reliable sources of food and raw materials and a captive market for British exports (in 1815 Britain imported 31% of its food and 61% of its raw materials);

The British Empire in 1815


The british empire in 18159

  • the Empire provided the Royal Navy with a large number of important naval bases from which it was able to dominate the sea lanes of the world.

The British Empire in 1815


The changing empire

  • Between 1815 and 1870 there were important changes within the Empire.

  • Britain increased by an average of about 100,000 square miles per year during this period.

The Changing Empire


The changing empire1

  • This huge increase in the extent of the Empire was not the result of a co-ordinated policy of conquest by the British government!

  • In many cases new territories were acquired ‘defensively’ – to protect areas already under British control.

The Changing Empire


The changing empire2

  • In the period up to 1870 the majority of British industrialists and traders who were involved in import and export had their eyes set on a world rather than an imperial market.

The Changing Empire


The changing empire3

  • Trade outside the Empire was increasing far more rapidly than trade within the Empire.

  • The major new fields of British investment outside the Empire were the USA, Latin America and the far East.

The Changing Empire


The changing empire4

  • This led to a shift in attitudes towards the future of the Empire.

  • Increasingly, questions were raised in Britain about the need to maintain the Old Colonial System which, it was argued, had outlived its usefulness.

The Changing Empire


The changing empire5

  • A movement of free traders viewed the mercantilist system as out of step with the trend of times.

  • It was against this background that significant changes to British imperial rule were brought about between 1815 and 1870.

The Changing Empire


The changing empire6

  • The major political change was the granting of responsible self-government to the settlement colonies.

The Changing Empire


The changing empire7

  • The major economic reform was the abandonment of protectionism.

The Changing Empire


The changing empire8

  • The most important social reform was the

    ABOLITION OF SLAVERY.

The Changing Empire


The abolition of slavery

  • The British had used slaves in North America since the seventeenth century.

The Abolition of Slavery


The abolition of slavery1

  • The system operated in the following way:

    African slaves were sold to British slave traders in West African ports.

    They were transported across the Atlantic by ship in horrific conditions.

    Then they were sold in the West Indies or North America at auction to the highest bidder.

The Abolition of Slavery


The abolition of slavery2

  • Between 18 and 25 million people were forced to leave Africa in this way during the era of legalised slavery.

The Abolition of Slavery


The abolition of slavery3

  • The injustice of slavery was under attack by the late-eighteen century.

  • Humanitarian reformers, church missionary societies, and radical writers formed an effective ant-slavery pressure group, led by WILLIAM WILBERFORCE, a Tory MP.

The Abolition of Slavery


The abolition of slavery4

  • The British government soon bowed to this pressure and introduced several measures designed to end the slave trade.

  • The trading of slaves by British citizens in Africa was made illegal in 1807.

The Abolition of Slavery


The abolition of slavery5

In an attempt to prevent foreign slavers taking over from where the British had left, the movement of slaves on the high seas was made an offence in maritime law in 1811.

The Abolition of Slavery


The abolition of slavery6

In 1819 a register of all existing slaves was drawn up by Britain so that any illegal additions could subsequently be traced.

The Abolition of Slavery


The abolition of slavery7

In 1830 2,600 anti-slavery petitions were presented to parliament.

In 1831 there was an unsuccessful uprising by slaves in Jamaica which resulted in 500 deaths.

The Abolition of Slavery


The abolition of slavery8

The Abolition of Slavery


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