From the British Perspective, Its Empire was Both a Blessing and a Curse
The British Empire was the largest empire across the globe enjoying mass subject nations and colonies. While some people believe that the empire was a blessing because it improved the lives of the people who became part of it, others believe that it exploited people trough racism and intolerance. In general, the British Empire was both a blessing and a curse to its nations and the colonies. Britain established colonies for political and economic reasons and in the process of economically empowering their nation; they caused great harm to the colonies on social, cultural and economic levels.
The British Empire was compelled to establish colonies because of the expanding population that needed land. In addition, Britain was an industrialized nation that sought to seek raw materials for its industries and ready market for the finished products. From this perceptive, the British Empire was a blessing to the British people. The first colonies created by Britons were Canada and U.S.A. They were created by settlers who ran away from oppression in Britain in search for better opportunities. As a result, they were established on a foundation of freedom, equality and democracy.These countries are currently developed unlike India and African nations that are willowing in corruption and poverty.
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For about a century, Britain enjoyed the being the global leading power governing around 458 million, which was equivalent to a fifth of the world’s population. During the initial years of the empire, it allowed territories to practice self-governance, under the leadership of governors appointed in London. Britain enjoyed trade with numerous nations, which contributed to its expansion. Britain had access to numerous resources and minerals from Africa, Asia and North America that contributed to its industrialization. Britain became the first nation from the west to industrialize. Similarly, The Empire enjoyed a vast market for their manufactured good, hence facilitating economic growth. The numerous colonies and nations under the British power created a ready market for the manufactured goods. As a result, many British merchants took up the role of business intermediaries to supply manufactured goods to the colonies while bringing resources race in Britain such as natural minerals and spices to the Empire. This resulted in creation of wealth and improved living conditions for the Britons. Similarly, the colonized nations enjoyed trade with Britain resulting in improved economy. British introduce new and better agricultural methods to their colonies, hence increasing raw material and food production. New livestock varieties and crops were introduced, hence improving food security in the colonized nations.
Enhanced trade between the Empire and the colonies resulted in higher economic standards. As a result, basic social amenities such as schools, hospitals, roads and housing were improved. This saw the Britons live in better conditions than before. Local trade was also heightened resulting in creation of wealth among the citizens. Trade with other nations led to the introduction of new commodities. Financial services such as loans and banks were introduced, hence contributing to the increased economic growth of the Empire.
The education system was poor in the British Empire. Girls were educated at home while only wealthy boys could afford school education. However, the need for administrators in the acquired colonies sparked the need for a better education system for all. The colonize nations enjoyed civilization that was introduce by the Empire. Hospitals, schools and social amenities were built to introduce the nations to western civilization. The Empire introduced modern education to the colonies. In Africa, British introduced the western education syllabus, build classrooms and supported education. Africans relied on informal education before Britain introduced the formal education that facilitated reading and writing. Beneficiaries of the Western education were incorporate into colony administration. Britain introduced developed laws and judicial systems that were adopted by the colonies even after independence. Britain’s former colonies share a common law heritage that indicates the magnitude of influence Britain had on its colonies.
The growth of the Empire resulted in numerous discoveries. The explorers discovered rare natural minerals and spices, which they introduced to their nation, further resulting in improved economy. Discovery and colonization of Zimbabwe resulted in Britain acquiring precious natural minerals like coal, diamond and tin. Besides economic discoveries, the Empire discovered numerous historic treasures, which they have helped to preserve. As a result, Britain developed the tendency of acquiring new territories whenever they were discovered. Having a large number of territories than any other nation gave Britain the advantage of acquiring free resources from their industries, cheap goods and free trade for the finished products.
The British Empire played a key role in the Trans Atlantic trade that supplied free labor in the plantations from slave trade. Free labor meant that the production cost of products will be reduced considerably, resulting in huge profits. Britain became the greatest carrier of slaves into the western nations. This form of trade generated revenue for the Empire, which resulted in economic growth. Britain relied of plantations as the main source of revenue. Cotton, Tobacco and sugarcane plantations needed labor, which was availed through slavery. Being a pioneer of industrialization, Britain, spread the technology to the various nations it encountered with, similarly, the Empire established the pioneer industries in their colonies. The British Empire created infrastructure such as rails and roads in their colonies to facilitate easy transfer of goods and raw materials.
The growth of the British Empire around the globe went hand in hand with the spread of the English language. British soldiers, settlers, administrators and merchants spread the English language to the conquered nations. Ireland was the first British colony conquered in the mi 17th century. British went ahead to conquer the Caribbean, North America, Australia, India, Malaysia and large parts of Africa.The British Empire controlled strategic business ports around the globe such as Hong Kong, the Pacific region, Singapore, Malta, Gibraltar and Cyprus. This offered strategic opportunities for business with other nations around the globe. Through trade and colonization Britain established diplomatic links and ties with the countries it colonize or traded with such as India, Australia, Kenya and Malaysia. During the World War I and II, Britain enjoyed great military advancement in weaponry and air force. Similarly, the colonies provided the Empire with soldiers. Wealth Acquired through colonization was used to purchase new sophisticated weapons that made British better equipped.
Despite the numerous blessings brought by the British Empire, it also brought curses to the colonies and the British citizens. The cost of maintaining the colonies was escalating in terms of paying administrators and purchasing weapons. War and revolutions by the colonies resulted in great expenditures in terms of weapons and human resources dispatched to maintain the colonies. The local culture, cottage industries and judiciary were permanently eroded. The new form of education and judiciary were adopted after independence with difficulties because of the unique needs of the colonies.
From the Humanitarian perspective, the natives in the colonies were exploited. In India and Africa, natives were forced to grow cash crops but paid very little for their labor. Natives were forced to grow what Britain wanted, hence no freedom of choice. The Empire forcefully confisticated land and cattle from peasants while inhumanely killing all the people who showed resistance or dissatisfaction with their rule. The poor natives were highly taxed to maintain the Empire. Britain jeopardized its own textile industry by importing cheap textiles.
The Empire created family separations by dividing nations, creating arbitrary borders, slavery and forceful recruitment into the army. Currently, British’s former colonies are languishing in corruption and poverty because during independence, British transferred power to the elites that are easily corrupted. The British Empire created colonies by creating colonies that favored the British interests at the expense of the colonize nations. Britain violated human rights by killing or isolating the people who rebuked their oppressive regime.
The British rule evoked war and revolution for reforms in the colonies. This was because the British governors exploited the natives and denied their freedom. The war resulted in deaths, displacements, imprisonment and torture of the natives. In the end, the colonies lost their claim through oppressive leadership. During the freedom for independence, great tragedies were experiences and both the British and the natives lost their lives.
In conclusion, the British Empire came with both blessings and curses. The Empire introduced western civilization, education and medication to its colonies. The British people benefited financially from cheap imported raw material, ready market for the finished goods and cheap labor from slaves. Through international trade, new goods were introduced resulting in enhanced living conditions due to improved economy. On the other hand, the empire was curse because it created divisions among its colonies, resulting in wars and death. The Empire spend more money on administration and dispatch of soldiers to the colonies.