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What were the political causes of British imperialism?

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Quick Answer

One of the underlying political causes of British imperialism was the need to strengthen the country, alongside making free trade easier. In addition, the British government aimed to appease the popular consensus that Christian values should reach Africa, and there was a need to strengthen the economy.

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Full Answer

While imperialism was on the rise in Europe, many countries saw it as a means of increasing their political power. Britain was aware that obtaining more land could lead to more wealth, and so it pursued its imperial interests. In addition, a rise in power among the merchant classes meant that free trade agreements became more popular. In order to successfully establish such agreements, there was a need to access more resources, which came from colonizing more countries.

Following the abolition of the slave trade in 1807, and slavery in 1833, the British public made it clear that they supported spreading Christian and British morals to Africa. This acted as a political motivation and justification in joining other countries in the scramble for Africa.

In addition, the sense of pride in Anglo-Saxon identity among the British, alongside a need to satisfy investors, encouraged Prime Minister William Gladstone to pursue parts of Africa that strengthened its position in India. Also, imperialists were aware that securing gold reserves in Africa could strengthen the country's economic standing.

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