Imperial Reform in Britian from 1815 to 1870 Essay
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Imperial Reform in Britian from 1815 to 1870
The period 1815 to 1870 was characterized by radical change in the character of the British Empire, to the extent that, by the end of the period, the empire consisted of two distinct parts: one made up of ‘dependent’ colonies, experiencing direct formal rule; and the other made up of self-governing ‘settlement’ colonies. This development occurred as a result of a series of social, political and economic reforms. In order to judge whether economic factors dominated imperial reform during this period, an assessment of the causes and nature of reforms is necessary. However, while imperial reform was multicausal, great weight can be given to the argument…show more content… In turn, the abolitionist movement, consisting of humanitarian reformers, church missionaries etc exerted political pressure on government ministers, creating a climate in government circles which led directly to the passing of the abolition acts. Therefore, the first major imperial reform of the 19th century, the abolition of slavery, was primarily motivated by social and political factors, rather than merely economic ones. Nevertheless, underlying economic factors, such as the cost of the slave system in regions experiencing economic decline, as well as the economic advantages of industrialisation which caused the emergence of a new middle class with differing views, may have contributed to the change.
Political reforms of the period focus mainly on the development of self-government within the colonies of settlement. The granting of self-government was sparked by an armed rebellion in Canada in 1837 following the failure of the British Governor to grant greater democracy, and the resulting emergence of an oppressed minority of French settlers of Lower Canada. The Canadian rebellion was a catalyst for political reforms, stemming from the 1839 Durham Report which reprimanded the British administration and called for the uniting of Upper and Lower Canada to form a single