French Colonial Expansion

Jules Ferry – On French Colonial Expansion

Author: Jules Ferry was born April 5, 1832, in Saint-Dié, France.  He was educated as a lawyer. Before serving two terms as prime minister of France (1880-1881, 1883-1885), Ferry was an active politician. He served as the republican deputy for Paris in 1869 and protested the declaration of war against Germany. The government of national defense appointed Ferry as the prefect of the Seine. As prime minister, he passed laws that secularized the French educational system. After Bismarck’s German victory over the French, Ferry began to promote French expansionism.

Context: Ferry wrote during the period of colonial expansionism and imperialism. This was a time when the powerful, industrialized countries like England began to stretch their constituencies by annexing or establishing protectorates in “undeclared” areas of the world like Africa.

Language: Ferry’s language was very direct, clear, and assertive. He emphasized and stressed his points by frequent use of the words “need” and “must.” Ferry referred to the grave seriousness of the problem of competition and the German and American protectionist policies restricting trade. He also spoke of the necessary French sense of duty to solve the problem.

Audience: Ferry made this speech before the French Chamber of Deputies on March 28, 1884.

Intent: Ferry hoped to convince the Chamber of Deputies to take up a more rapid and vast policy of colonial expansion for economic and political achievement amidst the globalizing competitive atmosphere.

Message: Ferry justified the need for a vast policy of colonial expansion with the need for economic success. He realized that competitive trade was globalizing and that to prosper, a country needed to attain a vast network of economic outlets. His solution was colonial expansionism, a policy that offered more outlets for exports. With more outlets, France would have a more competitive edge while rivaling the other industrialized nations like Germany, England, and the United States. Ferry also asserted that the French people, as a “superior” race, have a duty to reign over and civilize the “inferior” races, which is reminiscent of Rudyard Kipling’s “The White Man’s Burden.” Ferry saw colonial expansion necessary for France’s global rank.

ACLAIM: Dadabhai Naoroji, British Rule

Author: Dadabhai Naoroji was the first member of the British Parliament from Asia.  He was born in Bombay before British colonization.  Along with being a MP he was a social and political leader and a cotton trader.  Arguably his most important impact on Indian society was that he was one of the founding members of the Indian National Congress.

Context: The piece was written in 1871, well into the British occupation of India.  The beginnings of a new middle class and the Indian National congress was developing.

Language  The language of this piece is fairly easy to read and Naoroji is writing about aspects of life that apply to every person.

Audience: This piece was meant for the Indian people to show both the positive and negative sides of the British occupation.

Intent: The intent of this piece was to give both sides of the argument for the Indian people.  He provided all of the positives that the British have done but he does concede that not everything has been good.  He provided reasons to have and not have the British occupy India for the Indian people to see.

Message: The message of Naoroji’s writing was that the British rule has had both positives and negatives however the British know what is right.  He wrote “The genius and spirit of the British people is fair play and justice.”  and that the Indian people need to figure out what they want.

The White Man’s Burden

Author: It was written by Rudyard Kipling, a British imperialist.  He grew up in British India, thus he was able to experience imperialization first hand.

Context:  It was written in 1899 shortly after the United States too control of the Philippines.  During this time, many European nations were crambling to colonize as many territories to expand their markets.  The idea of the “White Man’s Burden” was a popular idea at the time and was sometimes used to justify a nation’s intercontinental expansion.

Language:  Kipling’s poem is written in the vernacular, full of contractions and slang terms. Being a poem, it also has a rhyme scheme.

Audience:  The poem was originally published in a magazine, thus Kipling’s intended audience was anyone who read the magazine.  This would most likely consists of all different types of classes.

Intent: Kipling is intending to spread word about the “White Man’s Burden”, whether it is a positive or negative one is up to the reader to decide.

Message: Kipling’s poem has two differing interpretations.  The poem’s message can be taken at face value, that the “White Man’s Burden” is a positive thing; however, one can also interpret it as a negative piece, as a form of satire on the ideology.

ACLAIM – Hobson

Author: John Hobson, English economist and English diplomat in southern Africa.

Context: During the middle of an economic depression in England which he attributed to the unsustainability in imperialist expansion.

Language: Language is very direct and highly critical. He was very well educated and the language in the document is not for an uneducated audience.

Audience: For the middle and upper classes mainly, ones who would understand simple to complex economics. Also for all modern economists at the time, especially in England.

Intent: To change economic policies in england from an unsustainable imperialist system to a system which abandons destructive expansionism for a more reliable, inwardly shifted national focus.

Message: Imperialism must be destroyed through the means of understanding its economic downfalls. Imperialism destroys public relations through infiltration and aggression, and due to its unsustainable nature in which the original national boundaries are left to wither, ends up creating more problems. To help come out of this depression, we need to stop imperialism which will allow England to build itself back up and stimulate foreign trade markets.


Imperialism – Hobson


A. John Hobson (1902)

  • English economist
  • Critic of imperialism
  • Wealthy family and well educated


  • One of the most famous critiques of the economic bases of imperialism
  • Middle of 2nd IR
  • Britain had lost its monopoly on the world market


  • Intelligent, enlightened, somewhat complex


  • Britain’s leaders


  • Inform Britain not only that imperialism is unnecessary, but it wastes Britain’s resources on peoples that can never become part of Britain instead of fixing internal problems


  • Meaning of the word imperialism shifts through manipulation
  • Nationalism has had both unifying and dividing effects
  • Nationalism set the momentum for expansionàimperialism
  • Imperialism was unnecessary until Britain lost its monopoly of the world market
  • As other nations such as Germany, Belgium, and the US encroached upon Britain’s markets, Britain had to find new markets
  • Must be undeveloped
  • Safest means of developing these new markets is establishing protectorates
  •  Imperialism is not inevitable like many people think
  • If Great Britain focused on bettering itself, they wouldn’t need to seek our undeveloped markets to exploit
  • Neglecting agriculture
  • Overpopulation
  • Poor education system
  • New markets they are seeking cannot be assimilated to Britain
  • Imperialism driven by class interest
  • Must cut imperialism at its economic roots to be effective