British India. Asian Spices. Nutmeg from Indonesia. Cloves from Indonesia. Pepper from India. Frankincense from Arabia. Cinnamon from China and Burma. The Dutch East India Company. Created in 1602 to control the spice trade in southeast Asia First multinational corporation
Nutmeg from Indonesia
Cloves from Indonesia
Pepper from India
Frankincense from Arabia
Cinnamon from China and Burma
D.E.I.C. bond, November 7, 1623
In 1773 the British Parliament passed the Regulating Act for India which required the East India Company to appoint an official to be Governor-General of all the districts controlled by the Company (which in 1773 comprised Bengal, Oudh and the Carnatic).
British India, 1889
Company arms and flag
Tea was cultivated in India for export to Britain. There it would become a trade commodity on the British market.
Opium balls, such as these in an 1828 British warehouse in Patna, British India, were a great source of income for the British. This opium was awaiting shipment to China. Opium was made from poppies, shown on either side of the warehouse sketch.
The British East India Company set up trading outposts at Bombay, Calcutta, and Madras.
Sepoys of the East India Company fighting during an Indian revolt, 1857-58.
East India company merchant in India, 1850.
The British military presence in India directly supported British trade.
Indian soldiers recruited to fight for the British army, 1902.
Many British families moved to India as their permanent home. They imported European culture with them. They established factories, hospitals, and schools in India. Indians were not treated equally by the British.
It was important for the British to have a strong network of transportation and communication in India. They designed India’s railroad system, brought telegraph and telephone technology, a postal system, news reporting, and banking.
China proved to be a formidable opponent to European imperialism.
British trade with China centered around opium. The British imported opium from India to China in exchange for silk. Chinese silver was used to buy opium, and the Chinese government was fearful of a trade imbalance. China demanded that opium sales stop, but the British did not comply. This led to the Opium Wars.
Opium dens, 1850
Chinese receiving opium from Patna, British India
Empress Dowager Ci Xi worked with her government officials to fight against the British in the First Opium War, from 1839-1842.
The treaty ended the First Opium War in 1842. It opened the ports of Guangzhou, Jinmen, Fuzhou, Ningbo, and Shanghai to British trade and residence; in addition Hong Kong was ceded to the British.
The Opium Wars brought an end to the isolation of the ancient Chinese civilization and introduced far-reaching social, economic and cultural ideas to the Chinese.
This cartoon depicts England, Germany, Russia, France, and Japan at the table, ready to cut up China after the Opium Wars. It is reminiscent of the Berlin Conference when the African continent was divided between the European powers.
On June 21, 1900, the Chinese Empress declared war on all foreign powers. This led to a two-month assault on the legations in Beijing led by a group known as the Boxers.
“The present situation is becoming daily more difficult. The various Powers cast upon us looks of tiger-like voracity, hustling each other to be first to seize our innermost territories. . . . Should the strong enemies become aggressive and press us to consent to things we can never accept, we have no alternative but to rely upon the justice of our cause. . . . If our . . . hundreds of millions of inhabitants . . . would prove their loyalty to their emperor and love of their country, what is there to fear from any invader? Let us not think about making peace.”
Empress Dowager Tsu Hsi
Empress Tsu Hsi
The Boxer Rebellion challenged Western commercial and political influence in China. The Chinese, though great in number, could not stop the imperial forces.
In response, eight nations sent troops: Japan, Russia, Germany, the United States, Great Britain, Italy and Austria-Hungary
The alliance eventually numbered 54,000:
U. S. (3,420)
German (900) Italian (80)
and anti-Boxer Chinese troops
At the end of the two month struggle, the international troops put down the uprising on August 14, 1900.
The Heroic Defense of the English Legation in Beijing
by Fritz Neumann
This political cartoon shows the winners celebrating the fall of Peking, 1900 at the end of the Boxer Rebellion. What countries are represented? Which country lies on the ground?
Chinese general Li Hongzhang with Lord Salisbury and Lord Curzon, the year following the Boxer Rebellion, 1901.