Imagining the Opium Trade: Britain’s Justification for the First Anglo-Chinese War
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This chapter examines how the Sino-British opium trade and its related issues were imagined and disputed in the immediate run-up to the First Anglo-Chinese War. It reveals that although the opium trade was closely interwoven with the ensuing confrontations, the debates on the subjects of opium, crisis and war can each be examined in their own right. Moreover, despite the fact that the Whig Government won the vote on its motion for war by only a small majority in April 1840, the actual inclination to vigorous invention in the dispute with China was in fact greater than the voting results appear to indicate.