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History: The Age of Imperialism, 1848 – 1914



Imperialism - Fordham University

This is a great place to look for primary sources.

UW - History sources - Primary and Secondary

This is a great resource. It has links for all regions of the world and includes primary and secondary sources, as well as geography and image resources.

World History Matters A portal to world history websites developed by the Center for History and New Media.

Internet Modern History Sourcebook: Imperialism
A review of imperialism throughout Africa, Asia and the Middle East.

Letter to Queen Victoria

Kishlansk Introduction] Lin Tse-Hsu (1785-1850) was the Chinese Commissioner in  Canton whose actions precipitated the Opium Wars (1839- 1842). Although opium was used in  China for centuries, it was not until the opening of the tea trade to Dutch and British  merchants that China was able to import large quantities of the drug. By the early  nineteenth century opium was the principal product that the English East India Company  traded in China and opium addiction was becoming a widespread social problem. When the  emperor's own son died of an overdose, he decided to put an end to the trade. Lin Tse-Hs�   was Canton, the chief trading port of the East India Company, with instructions to  negoiate an end to the importation of opium into China. The English merchants were  uncooperative, so he seized their stores of opium. This led to immediate military action.  The Chinese were decisively defeated and had to cede to a humiliating treaty that  legalized the opium trade. As a result commissioner Lin was dismissed from office and sent  into exile.

Lin Tse-Hsu's "Letter of Advice to Queen Victoria" was written before the  outbreak of the Opium Wars. It was a remarkably frank document, especially given the usual  highly stylized language of Chinese diplomacy. There remains some question whether Queen  Victoria ever read the letter.


Beginning with the birth of Queen Victoria, this episode explores the changes brought to Britain by the industrial revolution. By the 1840s, urban migration has created overcrowding and extremes in pollution and poverty. However, British subjects remain loyal to their Queen. Prince Albert, Victoria's husband becomes a guiding force in the monarchy. Benjamin Disraeli and William Gladstone, political stars with starkly contrasting visions of empire, turn the nation's attention abroad.


Source :

A Prisoner of the Boxer Rebellion, 1900 
"Kill the foreign devils! Kill! Kill! Kill!" At the beginning of the 20th century, America begins its journey to becoming a world power and finds itself embroiled in a revolution in China.

 The Assassination of Gandhi, 1948
"Just an old man in a loincloth in distant India: Yet when he died, humanity wept."







For Teachers



In which John Green teaches you about European Imperialism in the 19th century. European powers started to create colonial empires way back in the 16th century, but businesses really took off in the 19th century, especially in Asia and Africa. During the 1800s, European powers carved out spheres of influence in China, India, and pretty much all of Africa. While all of the major (and some minor) powers in Europe participated in this new imperialism, England was by far the most dominant, once able to claim that the "sun never set on the British Empire." Also, they went to war for the right to continue to sell opium to the people of China. Twice. John will teach you how these empires managed to leverage the advances of the Industrial Revolution to build vast, wealth-generating empires. As it turns out, improved medicine, steam engines, and better guns were crucial in the 19th century conquests. Also, the willingness to exploit and abuse the people and resources of so-called "primitive" nations was very helpful in the whole enterprise.



The Boxer Rebellion:

Boxer Rebellion (Encyclopedia Britannica)

Boxer Rebellion (

Boxer Rebellion (Australia’s involvement – Australian War Memorial)

Boxer rebellion (Wikipedia)

The Opium Wars:

Opium Wars (Encyclopedia Britannica)

The Opium Wars (About Education)

First Opium War (Wikipedia)

Second Opium War (Wikipedia)


Africa: Imperialism and Colonialism

These sites contain information on colonial Africa. There are maps, photographs, and other primary source documents, as well as essays and interviews with contemporary authors and experts. Students can explore the historical background for literary works dealing with this setting, such as "Heart of Darkness" by Joseph Conrad. Included are eThemes resources on South Africa, Rwanda, the African Continent, and the slave trade.

PBS: Europeans Come to Western Africa

This site examines the history of Portuguese exploration in Western Africa and the roots of the European slave trade. Click on the links to see contemporary illustrations and read further details, or browse the Resource Bank to see historical documents or read interview excerpts with modern experts.

Decolonization and Nationalism Triumphant: Crash Course World History #40

BBC: Toward Independence

On this site students can learn about the lasting effects of colonialism on Africa. Read the articles to learn about French and British colonial styles or view case studies of how several different African nations achieved independence. Includes audio clips.

Mahatma Gandhi Pilgrim Of Peace

End of Empire (1985), chapter 1: The Beginning of the End

End of Empire chronicled the last days of British rule around the globe, through the remarkably candid reminiscences of both colonizers and the colonized.

End of Empire (1985), chapter 2: India, Engine of War

End of Empire chronicled the last days of British rule around the globe, through the remarkably candid reminiscences of both colonizers and the colonized.


South Africa

Slavery and the 'Scramble for Africa'