Why Did the British Empire in Africa Expand in the Period 1875-1902?

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On the surface, British imperial affairs in the 1870s looked familiar. There was an evident reluctance toward aggressive imperial expansion, but the responsibility and territory of the Empire still grew. If we look deeper, there was an array of significant changes being made. The public’s relationship with the empire was changing. The greater influence of the press and higher literacy levels created a public hungry for the exciting stories of exploration and conflict in foreign mysterious lands, with Africa at the forefront. The map of the continent, by 1870 was gradually being filled in by brave explorers fulfilling the moral mission of Empire, to spread the word of god and civilise the indigenous tribesmen. The press turned explorers like David Livingstone into unlikely romantic heroes. Livingstone dedicated his entire life to exploring Africa, enduring the heat, rain, mud and attacks from tribesmen, animals and disease. His struggle made him a household name, and stimulated the attitude that it was Britain’s moral mission to help native people. This attitude of ‘moral mission’ however, was to pave the way to a legacy of undesirable consequences against the native people whom the explorers were trying to help: the enduring legacy of slavery. Unfortunately, European interference in Africa would soon involve more than the activities of explorers and missionaries, the continent was soon to be entangled in the world of European politics and the scramble for Africa. By the 1870s politicians like Benjamin Disraeli were tapping into a growing public enthusiasm for Empire, he himself previously referred to colonies as ‘millstones around our necks’. Disraeli and many European politicians came to see the domestic political usefulness of imperialism. Imperial ventures were a good source of political propaganda and could be used to distract the masses from pressing social or
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