About New Imperialism

The White Man’s Burden &Royal Niger Company Contract Lead to New Imperialism

The Old versus New Imperialism had changed significantly in a series of various ways; both the White Man’s Burden and Niger Company Contract demonstrated the transition from the Old Imperialism we discussed in our first discussion board.

Old Imperialism: Along the time frame of the sixteenth to eighteenth centuries, European powers typically did not obtain territory within the African or Asian lands, rather they established trading posts. Both Spain and Portugal were able to become a significant part of the New World as they were the first of many to have established colonies here.

New Imperialism

Within the nineteenth century, Europeans did the opposite of what was in the Old version of Imperialism as they specifically started colonizing Africa, Asia, and even the military power to overtake small forms of government standing in their way (those which were promoting the search for new markets/raw materials). Within this era the European powers took advantage of the local economies, as they were constantly taking their raw materials as needed to accommodate for Europe’s increasing industrial society.

The White Man’s Burden poem relates to imperialism as I perceived the writing as a form of warning to the United States concerning expectations that should take place when it sets out to become an imperial power. Kipling stressed how he felt about the time the US began embarking on its first genuine imperial action, taking control of the Philippines subsequent of the Spanish-American War. As a native to Europe, Kipling expressed his feelings concerning what he felt having an empire would lead to Kipling even stated “Take up the white man’s burden!”. The poet seemed to have only a small handful of other believers in imperialism within this time period, whereas imperialism was very much real and significantly increasing during the 19th and 20th century. With imperialism on the rise whether Europeans saw it or not, countries such as Africa were consumed by competing nations that termed it “essential” for such a country to be ruled as a justice to the people there. Imperialist’s arguments did not create an agreement between everyone; however their goal was not to please everyone but to complete what they had set their mind to. “The justifications ranged from economics to social services, while touching on everything else in between.”

By creating a new market, business workers would not be charged for such goods they used to be charged for, as these new markets were actually creating a higher demand for products. Creating a higher demand started a chain in which those back home in Europe would have more jobs, which is exactly one of the forms of reasoning imperialists used to demonstrate the “positive” effects of the new market. “The combination of new markets and new labor did wonders for commercial competition”. It seems as if the more I read the poem that the Europeans nearly realized that economic benefits by itself would not change anyone’s mind to the ways of imperialism, which quickly led to numerous other ways attempting to promote such ways. An example they widely promoted was that they were helping the Africans transition into a more advanced world that they as Europeans lived in compared to Africans. The author, Kipling, thought of it as a responsibility of the Europeans to save such “sullen peoples”, “half devil and half child”. The entire foundation of Imperialism relied on twisting the actuality of the situation in an attempt to make the bad actions of Imperialists to look just.

On the other hand, The Royal Niger Company’s imperial activities were basically divided into two sections. The beginning activities included the creation of peace by treaties with native leaders. Such treaties required the leaders to agree to this very statement: “We, the undersigned Chiefs . . . cede to the Royal Niger Company, forever, the whole of our territory.” The benefit of making a treaty with the imperialists was the promising of protecting the leader or “Chief” and paying the people for using their land through a type of compensation. Royal Niger Company was in control of a military force, allowing them to take control of “imperial ventures” as well as various “menacing tactics of gunboat diplomacy”. The second way the RNC was involved in imperial activities was the RNC “staving off rival claims of colonial territories by other European powers, thus, for instance, forestalling German and French claims in Sokoto and Borgu”.
The RNC seemed to be majorly effected by an expansion of colonialism within 1890, as its imperial interests seemed to have been negatively impacted. When the British first introduced the “Niger Coast Protectorate” (1891), as well as a direct treaty between “the British Foreign Office’s agents and native chieftains”. The creation of said treaty “challenged the RNC’s imperial surrogacy and led to disputes between it and the foreign office’s field agents.” Finally in 1900, the RNC gave up its imperial functions as well as territories to the government in exchange for a large compensation.

After viewing both types of Imperialism from the Royal Niger Company and White Man’s Burden, the Old Imperialism we viewed within our first discussion is not nearly as complex or inhumane. From our previous discussion I gathered and inferred a variety of information about not only the time period but the people within it including everything from the way they dress to even their beliefs (as shown by the men holding a cross.) The Spanish seemed to have an arrogance about them as they clearly are “dressed to impress” and have come prepared with a variety of weapons capable of over taking the peaceful natives that withhold the land. Peaceful offerings such as those held by the natives, are a traditional symbol of piece especially within this picture it is demonstrated clearly who is the passive group of people and those which are the aggressive group. With the demeaning expressions shown towards the natives from the Spaniards it is quite clear that they have arrived for strictly business and not to make friends!

Throughout the course of history we have been able to use the tricky advancements of the New Imperialism to better our world and stay leery of those who might have put us in the very situation that those within Africa were caught in. While the Old Imperialism differed from the New based on who they conquered and the reasons for conquering, historians today as well as us U.S. citizens are thankful for such lessons as they allowed us to form a strong government which promotes the ideals of “life, liberty, and happiness” as opposed to slavery and injustice. The Old ideals of Imperialism captivated the New World, whereas the New form of Imperialism focused on going to various locations such as Africa and Asia in hopes to gain territory and enslave people to get work done for less.

Resources:
https://www.encyclopedia.com/history/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/royal-niger-company
http://historymatters.gmu.edu/d/5478/
https://www.shmoop.com/historical-texts/imperialism-speech/white-mans-burden-poem.html

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