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The term 'imperialism', which was coined in 1858 to mean 'despotism', changed in 1881 to take on the meaning 'principle or spirit of empire; advocacy of imperial interests' in 1881 (Shorter Oxford English Dictionary 1959). To this could be added Lord Rosebery's definition, 'greater pride in Empire' (Eldridge 1978:3). It is probably misleading to apply the term indiscriminately to the whole of the four hundred or so years of modern European expansionism. This ranged from the plunder empires of the sixteenth through the settlement colonies of the seventeenth and eighteenth to the tropical empires of the nineteenth century. The 'spirit of empire' of the latter, with its certainty, conceit and confidence, was very different form the critical self-evaluation and humbling cultural comparison of the previous two centuries when confronted with much older civilisations such as India, and from the self-doubt of the twentieth century (Faber 1966:45; Betts 1976:150).  

The form of empire also changed. By the eighteenth century both British and French empires had evolved into a system based on the political ascendancy of the metropolis with its dependent white settler colonies, first in North America and later in Australia and New Zealand. These existed for the economic well-being of the 'mother country', and consisted of a large settler population and a small 'native' population, considered unimportant especially when nomadic and marginalised by extermination or by herding on to reserves.

British Empire: Students should be taught colonialism 'not all good', say historians | The Independent - Jan. 2016 |

by Oui on Mon Feb 5th, 2018 at 09:19:52 PM EST
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