Decline of the British Empire
Historians have attributed the decline of the British Empire to many factors. Attainment of dominion and power by Britain in 1763 made many Englishmen to believe that they could change the route course of the entire world. They thought that they could shape the world to have an image similar to that of Britain.
As such, they became greedy and they wanted more power and money to expand the British Empire. However, this made them lose foothold in their colonies. They lost their American colonies and eventually the Chinese vase. By 1781, the decline of the British Empire was apparent and George Washing surrendered American colonies of the British to George Washington.
Economic downfall was a major cause of the decline of the British Empire. Economic downfall of the British Empire was caused by increased military expenditure as well as the war with the colonial rivals such as Holland, France and Spain. The money used in this war came from the British colonies.
To raise this money, the British Empire added harsh laws on the colonies. It also restricted trade routes, imposed high taxes and controlled exports to other colonies. These factors made the lives of the people in these colonies unbearable. Eventually, many revolts against the British Empire emerged in these colonies.
Mercantilism also led to the decline of the British Empire. Mercantilism refers to the belief in benefits that come with profitable trading. This term was used widely in the 16th century with a goal of increasing the wealth of a nation by imposing harsh regulations on the commercial activities of a country in order to benefit the British Empire.
The British Empire believed that national strength could be increased by limiting imported goods while maximizing exports and increasing tariffs. The assumption of this approach is that a nation’s wealth depends on its possession of valuable goods like spices, silver and gold. Mercantilism caused economic stagnation because the aim of every colony was to export without importing. Adoption of this approach by the British Empire led to revolts in most of its colonies as they fought for a free trade.
The triangular trade emphasized by the mercantilism system also contributed to the decline of the British Empire. This trade was made of the routes that linked to the American colonies. These were the West Indies, England and Africa. This trade led to an increase in slave and merchant population. A class that dominated politics and trade in the colonies emerged. Activities such as smuggling goods also emerged.
The British Empire enforced harsher laws and capital punishment to counter goods’ smuggling. This angered people in the colonies which caused revolts and struggle for independence. After the World Wars, the British Empire was unable to administer the colonies due to economic problems and conflicts both abroad and at home. British had to give up the colonies in order to rebuild herself after the World Wars. Thus, decolonization and the World Wars were the major causes of the decline of the British Empire.
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