Colonial Georgia: A Study in British Imperial Policy in the Eighteenth Century

Colonial Georgia: A Study in British Imperial Policy in the Eighteenth Century

Colonial Georgia: A Study in British Imperial Policy in the Eighteenth Century

Colonial Georgia: A Study in British Imperial Policy in the Eighteenth Century

Excerpt

In the Eighteenth Century, colonial affairs were subsidiary issues in English political life; Sir John Seeley's dictum that the British people founded an empire in a fit of absence of mind is true in the sense that imperial expansion seldom commanded public attention. Although there were always a few critics in the country who expressed anti-imperialist sentiments and feared that the empire would ultimately escape from the control of the mother-country, they represented only a small minority. Generally, when people thought about the colonies, which was not often, they regarded them with mild approval, and believed in the advantages of an empire even though they knew little about it.

It was a universally accepted principle that the purpose of a colony was to be of service and value to the state under whose aegis and authority it was established. Whether that service be economic in its contribution to the trade of the nation, strategic in its promotion of the military position of the imperial Power against foreign competitors, or social in its removal of unfortunate persons who embarrassed the community, the principle was the same: a colony was designed to serve the best interests of the mother-country, who was not altruistically concerned with the benefits accruing to those who were to inhabit it.

If the three components of this principle are applied to Britain's empire of the eighteenth century, it can be said that three corresponding strands then ran through the pattern of British colonial policy. Firstly, there was the commercial instinct of a trading people which sought expansion in the direction of imperial self- sufficiency. Secondly, there was the accession of power in the face of that foreign rivalry which the commercial objective was bound . . .

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