Analyze attitudes toward and evaluate the motivations behind the European acquisition of African colonies in the period 1880 to 1914 During the late 1800’s, Europe was looking for a way to improve themselves as a whole. With growing population and a steady decline in available work, something new had to be done. Countries looked towards Africa to serve as new colonies for the Europeans in order to better their own countries. During the European acquisition of African colonies in the period 1880 to 1914 Europe’s attitude towards Africa was that Africa was the inferior race in comparison to the Europeans.
With the help of a strong feeling of nationalism, Europeans were motivated to acquire new lands in order to improve their motherland’s power and economy with new available work. In the years from 1880 to 1914, Europe’s attitude towards the acquisition of Africa’s land is that the Europeans were more advanced race and felt as if it was their right as Europeans to take the lands for themselves. This statement is supported by document 11, in which Martial Henri Merlin, the governor of French Equatorial of Africa’s speech in 1910.
In this speech, Henri claims that it is the, “right of a civilized, fully developed race to occupy territories which have been left fallow by backward peoples who are plunged into barbarianism… What we exercised is a right. ” This speech shows the attitude of the Europeans by saying that it is the European’s right to take that land from the uncivilized people of Africa. Henri clearly views Africa as the inferior race by calling the backwards and barbarians. He also justifies his actions by calling it a right of the Europeans to do this.
Another example of Europe’s attitude toward Africans is exampled by document 6 George Washington Williams in his letter to Leopold II in 1890. In this letter, it says, “When he gave the black brother a cordial grasp of the hand, the black brother was surprised to find his white brother so strong that he nearly knocked him off his feet. ” In this letter, George is demonstrating how he can use the new advancements in technology, to fool the uneducated and uninformed African people that he is stronger and more dominant.
These methods were used to acquire land by making treaties with native chiefs shows Europe’s attitude and how they will do whatever they want in order to acquire more lands. The motivation behind conquering colonies in Africa starts with the opportunity to thrive economically. In document 9 from the Resolution of the German Social Democratic Party Congress 1900, it states that acquiring new lands, “…corresponds…to the greedy desire of the bourgeoisie for new opportunities to invest… [in] new markets.
This shows one of the motivations for colonization; to invest and open new markets in the new lands in hope to make a profit. The desire for new markets in Europe was getting bigger and bigger now that the population was rising and jobs were becoming scarce. Colonizing new areas in Africa would lead to more imports and exports leading to more jobs which seemed appealing to most people. Supporting the idea of creating a better economy is document 4, which is a speech in 1888 by Joseph Chamberlain.
In his speech he says, “We have suffered much in this country from depression of trade. We know how many of our fellow-subjects are at this moment unemployed. ” This quote shows that Britain’s trade is declining with other nations and many of the people are unemployed. This is motivation for the British to colonize in Africa because with new colonies in Africa, trade would increase between Britain and the rest of Europe from the recourses Africa can provide. Colonizing in Africa would bring more money and more jobs to Europeans so it motivated people to do so.
Apart from economic growth, Europeans also supported the colonization of Africa because is made the motherland powerful. In Europe, there was no room to have countries expand their borders, meaning colonizing in Africa was the only way to do so. In Document 1, Prince Leopold II had a conversation in 1861 in which he said, “Colonies are useful, that they play a great part in that which makes up the power and prosperity of states… let us strive to get one in our turn…to lead to progress in every sense… [and] prove to the world that Belgians are an imperial people. Colonies were not only used to gain wealth but they were also a sign of power. The more land that a country can acquire, the more of a threat they can be to other countries.
Gaining power is a very big motivation for Europeans to colonize Africa. In this conversation, Prince Leopold strongly suggests that Belgians should see the colonizing as a step toward domination and more power and should support the cause. Another person to encourage the colonization of Africa is Benjamin Disraeli, the British prime minister. In his speech to the House of Commons regarding the Suez Canal (doc. 0) he says, “ I have always and do now recommend [colonizing] as a political transaction, and one which I believe is calculated to strengthen the empire. ” Although Benjamin believes that it is not a good financial investment to purchase the land and hope for a profit, he finds that the new land will strengthen the empire by expanding its boarders to new lands in Africa. Power serves as a motivational factor because all countries want to be more powerful than its rivals and power comes from the expansion of a country’s boarders.
Nationalism also contributes towards the power of a country and nationalism is displayed in document 12. Louis Bernard, a French colonial official, wrote in a memoir that he “found the image of a victorious and conquering France… I was in a country of empire, an empire in which I participated instead of submitting, as it was in our annexed, Alsace and Lorraine. ” Louis believes that his country is better than it is currently doing because of his strong sense of nationalism. Louis sees France as an empire which fought and didn’t surrender.
He believes that France could hold more power than what it currently wields now. His motivation to see France as an empire is why France is motivated to secure parts of Africa for themselves. Through the early 20th century, countries in Europe were looking to becoming more powerful than their rivals. With this need to be better, countries looked to Africa to expand their country’s boarders in order to gain power and enhance their country’s economy. Europeans justified their actions because they saw the Africans as barbaric and backwards people and thought that it was the European’s right to take African lands.