The new imperialism took several forms. In many areas, imperial powers established colonies. They sent governors, officials, and soldiers to control the people and set up a colonial bureaucracy. France and Britain, the leading imperial powers, developed different kinds of colonial rule.
The French practiced direct rule in their colonies. Here, French soldiers speak with an Algerian man.
What were the costs and benefits of direct rule?
The French practiced direct rule, sending officials and soldiers from France to administer their colonies. Their goal was to impose French culture on their colonies and turn them into French provinces. Direct rule reflected the European belief that colonial people were incapable of ruling themselves.
The British, by contrast, used indirect rule. Under the system of indirect rule, a British governor and council of advisers made laws for each colony. Local rulers loyal to the governor retained some authority and served as agents for the British. The British encouraged the children of the local ruling class to get an education in Britain. In that way, a new generation was groomed to become agents of indirect rule—and of Western civilization.
Indirect rule differed from direct rule because it did not replace traditional rulers with European officials. Yet local rulers had only limited power and did not influence government decisions. Under both direct and indirect rule, the result was the same. Traditional rulers no longer had power or influence.
In some places, Western powers established a protectorate. In a protectorate, local rulers were left in place but were expected to follow the advice of European advisers on issues such as trade or missionary activity. A protectorate had certain advantages over a colony. It cost less to run than a colony and usually did not require a large commitment of military forces unless a crisis occurred.
A third form of Western control was the sphere of influence, an area in which an outside power claimed exclusive investment or trading privileges. Europeans carved out spheres of influence in China and elsewhere to prevent conflicts among themselves. The United States claimed parts of Latin America as its sphere of influence, holding off European powers that might compete with its interest.
In China, Western nations had trading centers on the waterfront in Shanghai.
Which form of imperialism was used in China?
Compare and contrast how Britain and France ruled their colonies.