The Theory and Practice of Informal Empire

  • Philip D. Curtin


Political objectives were conspicuously missing from the British discussion of African affairs. Not only was government policy firmly opposed to annexation; few of the publicists for African activity even stressed the desirability of empire for the sake of empire. Few suggested that the power to command was worth having as a primary value, or that British dominion over Africa might be sought as a sign of British national glory and greatness. The desired ends of British policy were either wealth or the civilizing mission, or a combination of both. Only the means were political.


Niger Delta Slave Trade Gold Coast Guinea Coast Legislative Council 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 3.
    Report of the Committee on Aborigines, PP, 1837, vii (425), p. 5; J. Harris, The Great Commission (London, 1842), p. 238;Google Scholar
  2. W. Howitt, Colonization and Christianity (London, 1838), pp. 504–5;Google Scholar
  3. R. M. Martin, History of the British Possessions in the Indian and Atlantic Oceans (London, 1837), p. 338.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Report of the Committee on Aborigines, PP, 1837, vii (425) p. 76. See also H. Merivale, Lectures on Colonisation and Colonies, 2 vols. (London, 1841–1842), II, 212–13.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    S. Motte, Outline of a System of Legislation for Securing the Protection of the Aboriginal Inhabitants of all Countries Colonized by Great Britain (London, 1840), p. 14.Google Scholar
  6. 9.
    T. F. Buxton, The Remedy: Being a Sequel to the African Slave Trade (London, 1840), pp. 80–98 and 108; Grey to Winniett, 20 January 1849, CO 402/2.Google Scholar
  7. 10.
    Buxton, The Remedy, p. 99; Glenelg, Memorandum of 18 February 1839, CO 2/22; Report of the West Africa Committee, PP, 1842, xi (551), p. vii. See also Captain Belcher, R. N., “Extracts from Observations on Various Points of the West Coast of Africa, Surveyed by His Majesty’s Ship Aetna in 1830–32,” Journal of the Royal Geographical Society, II, 278–304 (1832), p. 296.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 11.
    This discussion of the Niger strategy is based on K.O. Dike, Trade and Politics in the Niger Delta, 1830–1885 (London, 1956)Google Scholar
  9. and C. C. Ifemesia, “British Enterprise on the Niger, 1830–1869,” (Unpublished Ph.D. thesis, London, 1959).Google Scholar
  10. 16.
    G. d’Eichthal, “Histoire de origine des Foulahs ou Fellans,” Mémoires de la Société Ethnologique, I (2), 1–296 (1841), pp. 148–53, 164–65; R. Mouat, “A Narrative of the Niger Expedition,” Simmonds’s Colonial Magazine, II, 138–53, 311–24, 446–65; III, 117–26 (May-October 1844), HI, 120;Google Scholar
  11. W. B. Baikie, Narrative of an Exploring Voyage up the Rivers Kwora and Binue (Commonly known as the Niger and Tsadda) in 1854 (London, 1856), p. 393.Google Scholar
  12. 17.
    See J. F. Ade Ajayi, “Christian Missions and the Making of Nigeria, 1841– 1891” (Unpublished Ph.D. thesis, London, 1958);Google Scholar
  13. S. O. Biobaku, The Egba and Their Neighbours 1842–1872 (Oxford, 1957);Google Scholar
  14. G. E. Metcalfe, Maclean of the Gold Coast (London, 1962);Google Scholar
  15. C. W. Newbury, The Western Slave Coast and its Rulers (Oxford, 1961).Google Scholar
  16. 18.
    Sir George Stephen, The Niger Trade Considered in Connexion with the African Blockade (London, 1849), PP. 41–55.Google Scholar
  17. 29.
    Both the original plan of 1832 and a later version of 1840 are found in CO 2/22. The second version was published as P. Read, Lord John Russell, Sir Thomas Fowell Buxton, and the Niger Expedition (London, 1840).Google Scholar
  18. 30.
    J. Rendali to Glenelg, 3 January 1839, CO 2/22; F. H. Rankin, The White Man’s Grave: A Visit to Sierra Leone in 1834, 2 vols. (London, 1836), II, 24–29; Winniet to Grey, 22 May 1850, CO 96/18.Google Scholar
  19. 31.
    G. Stephen, Letters to the Right Honourable Lord John Russell, on the Plans of the Society for the Civilization of Africa (London, 1840), first letter, p. 28.Google Scholar
  20. 32.
    C. Dickens, Bleak House (London, 1853), Ch. IV.Google Scholar
  21. 42.
    C. Fyfe, A History of Sierra Leone (London, 1962), pp. 188–189, 211.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Regents of the University of Wisconsin 1964

Authors and Affiliations

  • Philip D. Curtin

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations