Why did imperialism grow rapidly in the 1800s?

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mkoren's profile pic

mkoren | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted on

Imperialism began to grow and to develop in the 1800s. Countries had several reasons for becoming imperialistic.

One factor that influenced imperialism was an economic factor. Countries were looking to get colonies so they and their businesses could make money. Colonies usually had resources that imperialistic countries needed so they could make products. It was cheaper to get resources from the colonies than to buy them from other countries. Once colonies were established, the imperialistic country would have a guaranteed market where the products from its factories could be sold. This was good for the businesses and for the economy of the imperialistic country.

Political considerations influenced imperialism. If a nation wanted to be a world power, it had to have colonies. These colonies would serve as bases where its ships could stop to restock and refuel. The colonies could serve as a military base if a war occurred. It is important for a world power to protect its worldwide trade. Colonies allowed for this to occur. It would be very hard to be viewed as a world power without having colonies. Additionally, there were fewer lands available for colonization so the rush was on to get the lands that were available.

Cultural and religious factors were also involved. Imperialistic countries believed it was their responsibility to spread their way of living to people whom they considered to be less developed or to be inferior to the ways of living in the imperialistic country. The imperialistic countries believed they needed to show these people how to govern themselves, how to develop an economy, and how to live life in a proper manner. Some countries also wanted to spread their religion to their colonies.

There were many factors the encouraged the development of imperialism in the 1800s.

pohnpei397's profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

Imperialism grew rapidly in this time because of industrialization.  There are two connections between the development of industry and the rise of imperialism.

One connection is that industry made imperialism more possible.  Industrialization allowed the creation of new things like steam ships, the telegraph, and better weapons.  These helped Europeans (and the United States) take empires.

The second connection is that industrialization made empires seem more necessary.  Industrialized countries felt the need for sources of raw material and the need for new markets for the goods they could produce.  Empires were seen as a good way to obtain both of these.

In these ways, the industrialization of the 1800s helped to cause the growth of imperialism.

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