Monday, July 28, 2014

Colonization and Colonialism - Growth of England’s Overseas Empire

Though pax Britannica was still a distant dream, yet England could boast of a fairly big empire by the year 1765. The English colonial possessions, secured through both colonization and colonialism, included the thirteen American colonies. Canada (gained form France after the seven Years’ War in 1763). New Foundland, the Indian territiories of Bengal and Madras (gained after the battles of Plassey and Buxar) and a number of islands in the Caribbean including Barbados and Jamaica. Such a large overseas empire grew out of politico-economic rivalry between the two European powers – France and England. They fought each other in Europe-around the Great Lakes of North America, in Bengal and Coromandel coast around Madras and on the high seas and in the islands of the Caribbean.
The important point to note is that these colonies were not only lucrative trading zones under British political control, but they turned out to be the unending sources of raw materials and a continuously growing market for English products. This substantially helped the Industrial Revolution. After colonizing the thirteen American possessions, the British colonial government used its political control to exact maximum economic benefits from them. The trade between the mother-country and the American colonies was considerable. The chief exports from the American colonies to England were tobacco, dyestuff and timber. Besides, the mother-country imposed stringent regulations upon the colonies that all their products be sent to London, from where it would be exported all over the world. The Mollases Act of 1733 was such an imposition upon the American colonies. The colonial rule transformed India into an ideal dependency, serving both as a huge market for British goods and an inexhaustible source of raw materials for English mills and factories. Political hegemony and economic dominance went hand in hand. So, the flow of capital from every part of the empire to England was smooth and substantial because of the growing export of the English manufactures to the large colonies market. The existence of a secure market and the steady sources of raw materials proved a great motivation to the Industrial Revolution.

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