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British Colonial Rule: Forced to Change It's Economy and It's Practices

The English/British efforts to conquer and absorb their home islands and overseas territories did not succeed in creating a pacified, loyal, profitable, and politically, religiously, and culturally homogeneous empire between 1250 and 1857. Although profit was certainly involved, it benefited primarily those that exploited slaves to become rich; British foreign subjects and domestic commoners were impoverished and oppressed. Moreover, Britain wielded power by virtue of its conquests, but that did not make it a homogeneous empire by any means. This paper will examine the texts and films used in this course and discuss why the British Empire was heterogeneous and what the contentious issues were.

One of the most controversial issues in 18th century England was that of the slave trade. Levine points out that "It was the Atlantic slave trade, without question, that secured much of the vital wealth and political success of Europe and of the British Empire throughout the eighteenth century," and the exploitation-mainly of blacks-to fuel the slave trade was a point of contention.[1] Although wealthy plantation owners overlooked the moral inequity of slavery for the sake of their own gain, and many of the wealthy members of Parliament protected slavery as they had financial interests in it themselves, as the film Amazing Grace reveals, there was a movement to abolish slavery on the part of other members of Parliament allied with concerned citizens.[2] Prime Minister William Pitt and his close friend William Wilberforce led the opposition movement in Parliament, a long and embattled effort to stop the practice of slavery that finally succeeded after Pitt's death.[3] Testimony by former slaves such as Olaudah Equiano helped to acquaint the two men with the evils of slavery, and they in turn sought to convince the Parliament that the practice must be stopped.[4] The heated debate over the issue was bolstered by the fact th...

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British Colonial Rule: Forced to Change It's Economy and It's Practices. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 14:00, March 19, 2019, from