By C. C. Eldridge (eds.)
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In sum, the 'new imperialism' of 1870-1914 witnessed various great powers, confident that the future was theirs, surging forward to take a share of the world's colonial possessions; but it also witnessed one very old great power, far less confident about the future, taking imperialist measures to ward off decline. No greater mistake could be made than to ignore this fundamental difference in world circumstances between British imperialism at Victoria's accession and that which attended her death.
The blunt answer must be 'no', for the simple reason that historians remain divided over the basic definitions. There can be no real agreement about 'the imperialism of free trade' so long as some scholars regard imperialism as the formal annexation of overseas territory, and others prefer a larger but looser definition. Similarly, there can be no argument upon the nature of the 'new imperialism' so long as Marxists equate it with a stage in capitalistic development and non- Marxists define it instead in territorial, political and social terms.
They did not perceive that the answer lay in a devolution of authority to the colonial executives. This would have seemed in the 1770s tantamount to a grant of independence, and the whole drift of imperial policy, then and later, was to preserve the local executives from local control. The failure of contemporaries to resolve these political and conceptual conundrums necessitated a resort to extreme solutions: outright independence or complete subordination. The Americans were powerful and distant enough to claim independence; it was otherwise when a similar struggle broke out in weak, neighbouring Ireland.
British Imperialism in the Nineteenth Century by C. C. Eldridge (eds.)