Policy-Making on the Victorian British Empire: British Imperialism 1837-1901


Policy-Making on the Victorian British Empire: British Imperialism 1837-1901

Chip Schroeder

Graduate Paper, Stanford University, (2012)

Abstract

When Queen Victoria ascended the throne in 1837, her nation was in the process of becoming more aware of and connected to the rest of the world. A scan across the globe in the early Victorian period would reveal the strong relationships between Britain and her colonies in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and southern Africa, as well as communities in Jamaica and an outpost on Malta, and the important and ever-expanding Indian territory. But a writer in 1847 precisely identified these places as the British World rather than the British Empire, since these were places that did incur the responsibility of the British government, but the methods by which they were incurred, and the extents to which the British actively governed the areas were on such a broad spectrum that ‘Empire’ would evoke too unified an impression to the early Victorian.



Britain’s ruling classes throughout Victoria’s reign from 1837 to 1901 transformed the British World of the early Victorian age to a more conscious British Empire, most notably because the Empire expanded at a rate of 100,000 square miles per year from 1815 to 1865, and also because the issue of “imperialism” became a central focus of the Victorian era.2 As the public became more concerned with the empire, so the sway of public opinion encouraged Victorian leaders to heed the various recommendations made by imperial agents throughout the Empire.

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