Compare and contrast British and French imperialism regarding such things as governing philosophies and the impact upon the colonial populations.

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mkoren's profile pic

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

Posted on

Both France and Great Britain were colonial powers. There were some differences and some similarities with their policy of imperialism. I will focus mainly on the North American colonies that both countries had established to support this answer.

There were some differences between the French colonies and the British colonies. While the British established thirteen permanent colonies in North America, the French had few permanent settlements. The French were very friendly with the Native Americans. They traded with them, married them, and converted them to Christianity. They weren’t very interested in taking away the lands of the Native Americans. The British didn’t have as good of a relationship with the Native Americans. Most Native American tribes feared the British. In the French colonies, only nobles could own the land. Also, only Christians were allowed to settle in the French colonies, and the colonists had very little freedom. As a result, fewer people settled in the French settlements than in the British settlements in North America.

Some of these differences can also be seen in the colonies each country had around the world. The French were more interested in treating people in their African colonies equally. If the people in the colonies learned French and followed French cultural practices, they were treated very well. It might be possible for them to become French citizens. The British viewed the people in Africa very differently. They were less likely to be treated as equals or to become British citizens.

There were some similarities with the British and the French colonial policies. Both countries wanted to profit economically from their colonies. The French did very well with the fur trade in North America. The British sold many products to their colonies and used the resources from their colonies to help their industries grow. They also benefited by getting products from some of the farms in the colonies. Both countries enhanced their world power status by having colonies in the Americas and throughout the world. Both countries could also use their colonies to serve as a military base if necessary.

There were similarities and differences in the British and French views of imperialism.

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pohnpei397's profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

British and French styles of imperialism were both similar to and different from one another.  The major similarity is that both countries meant to use their imperial possessions for their own good.  That meant that the main goal of both countries was to help themselves, not to help those they conquered.

However, the French seemed to take the idea of a "civilizing mission" somewhat more seriously than the British did.  The French, for example, were willing to allow their African subjects to become French citizens and even to participate in politics.  This is something that the British were not willing to do.

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