French Imperialism

Imperialism is the action of a country expanding its power to another nation or region by means of militarization and managing colonies from afar which was done by numerous European countries, particularly in a wave of colonization of Africa occurring in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. From 1800 to 1914, France imperialized numerous colonies in Africa, including the Northwest regions and Madagascar. The sudden rush of French colonization was caused by the need to promote the sense of French nationalism, an expansion and advancement of technology, and to guarantee France’s future in a continent of new powerful countries.

The motivation to colonize Africa began with France’s preservation of nationalism because they, as all European countries which included those newly introduced, were growing in military power and were in a race to gain African territory. Firstly, France remained in competition especially with England when the colonization of Africa began, competing to own more land to ensure its national pride. In 1803, France transferred land in the Louisiana Purchase regions to the United States, losing a great deal of its former claims. This lead to deterioration in France’s place in the world during a time of mass colonization.

Following soon after, the Congress of Vienna ordered a redrawing of the European map along with restrictions to political and natural rights which caused a strengthening in nationalism as the nations of Europe rose up against the new orders. In the succeeding years, the French were forced out of Canadian colonies, and fully removed as Canada became a country in 1867. In the image of France’s foe, Britain, France was losing its place in the world outside of Europe, and along with it, its citizens’ sense of nationalism. To restore French patriotism, France expanded its empire into Africa, the continent closest to home. Secondly, with various advancements of technology and medicine, especially those that resulted from the Industrial Revolution, France was motivated to further its mass colonization across Africa.

When the colonies in North America were no longer those of France’s funds for colonization in Africa was available. This required shorter distances for ships to travel, or other non-naval methods, therefore allowing a great deal of money to be spent on enforcing militarization in the African colonies to be taken. With the leverage of newfound investments, the troops, weaponry storage, and medicine to fight against diseases uncommon in Europe, France was capable of colonized a great expanse of Northwestern Africa. Lastly, as the new countries of Italy and Germany arose, France gained surrounding threats, producing the necessity that was expansion. The French were fearful of their new and old neighbours, so pushed to win the competition of African imperialism, as demonstrated in a map in which France holds nearly one third of the continent. Overall, the formidable motives of French imperialism in Africa were a great sense of nationalism, the progression of technology, and the requirement of empowering the country in fright of countries only a stone’s throw away.

Throughout French-African colonies, the native people, such as those in Algeria–a country near the Northern border of Africa–fought against the imperialism which threatened their own nationalism. The French which had taken land once owned by the African people would eventually leave its former colonies in a financial crisis. As demonstrated most significantly by the indignant Algerians, French imperialism was widely and greatly loathed.

The impact of French colonization in Africa was negative overall because after the rush of imperialism French-African countries were left with little funds to continue the life as created by European rulers. Left without the autocracy to secure the economy of the African colonies, they struggled without the former money from the major European country of France at the turn of the nineteenth into twentieth century. Without assistance from the French, the financial systems crumbled. In addition for the African population which resisted colonization, the debt of battle struck painfully to the economies of various nations. In the end, the cons substantially outweighed the benefits of France’s imperialistic actions in Africa.

Although some may believe that the colonization of African nations as done by France was positive because it proved for the expansion of western culture, bringing with it schools and aid to the African people, the advancements and help would come to a devastating end nearing the end of the 1800s. The improvements had diminished as the French retracted its people, troops, and funds, leaving its colonies in a poor position.

France’s motivations to beat other European countries in the race to imperialize Africa caused it to seize a massive portion of the continent, but as it left nearing the conclusion an era of colonization, the French enabled economic distress throughout the Northwest regions of the continent. The imperialistic actions of France may not have been entirely necessary because although it had been recently invaded by the Austrian Empire, Russia, Prussia, and Great Britain in 1815, it did not need to expand its land to remain a powerhouse. It could have focused its sources on the current French regions, therefore strengthening what it already had than what it would come to lose. In a final statement, if the nucleus of France’s economic focus were itself, the African people affected could have avoided an economic decline of its own, therefore allowing itself to improve throughout the century.

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