Responses to Imperialism Around the World

As European and American imperialism continued around the world, non-western indegenous people of the lands being colonized would either fight the intruders or resign to modernizing their societies to western culture. Those who chose to fight were met with extremely violent military responses. Some resistances were successful, others were not.

To curb European imperialism in the Americas, the U.S. issued the Monroe Doctrine. The stated goal was to help protect Latin America from European control. However, it actually led to the U.S. exerting its own control of Latin America without conflict from European powers. Beliefs in white supremacy led to the idea that it was the duty of the US to spread democracy. America began to exert a strong influence across the globe.

In 1898, the United States annexed and claimed Hawaii and overthrew their monarchy. In 1899, after being annexed to the U.S., Philippine revolutionaries took up arms to gain independence. After a bloody battle in Manila, the U.S. emerged victorious and instituted the beginning of westernization in the Philippines. Many people in the U.S. were opposed to imperialism and felt that imperialist policy went against American values of freedom and liberty. Imperial control of Africa increased rapidly between 1870 and 1895. The continent was divided up among the European powers at the Berlin Conference with little regard to the people on the continent. This was called the “Scramble for Africa”. People across the African continent formed resistance movements against the western colonizers. Many were people of independent states who wanted to remain independent.

When the British tried to colonize southern Africa, they were met with resistance from the Kingdom of Zululand and its army. When the King of Zulu did not comply with British threats of war, the British invaded. The war resulted in several violent and bloody battles and ultimately ended in British victory and dominance of the region. In some areas, local kingdoms were aided by European countries to fight against other European countries. Ethiopia’s Emperor Menelik II was aided by Russian and French military to defeat the Italians, resulting in the recognition of Ethiopia's independence.

India was known as the “Jewel in the British Crown'' because of how profitable the British East Indian Company was in obtaining and selling raw materials from the region. People were angry at the British reforms, taxes, and unfair treatment placed on them. In 1857, an Indian rebellion called the Sepoy Mutiny broke out against British East Indian Company. This would lead to many other rebellions throughout the continent. The rebels gained control of several important cities and eventually led to the dissolution of the British East Indian Company. India was administered by Great Britain, and though they did not hold constitutional power, Indians were promised rights similar to Britains’.

Japan maintained isolation with little to no interaction with western powers. This changed in 1853 with the arrival of Commodore Matthew Perry in his fleet of black U.S. Navy ships in Tokyo Harbor. His goal was to seek friendship and a trade agreement. The Japanese reluctantly agreed to the agreement. This forced Japan to open up to new technological developments and modernize its military. At the same time the Japanese government of the Shogunate fell from power allowing the western supported Emperor to gain control of the country in 1868.

British Victories in China during the Opium Wars gave the country economic power in China and began the European imperialist invasion of China. The Boxer Rebellion was a nationalist uprising in 1899 to resist this imperialism and drive all foreigners from China. It was led by a secret martial arts society. Thousands of people from both sides were killed during the chaos. In 1900, the rebellion ended when 20,000 foreign troops took control of Beijing. They negotiated unfair treaties that allowed for expansion of European powers to control trade in China.