Duty To The E Wmpire Essay

1675 words - 7 pages

This essay will look at the structure of governance in the British and American Empire in the nineteenth-century and further examine if, as the quote of J. M. Coetzee states, the empire only requires that its servants perform their duty, not that they love each other. These two empires have accomplished much in the way of expansion and development of civilisations. This led to people of vastly different cultures being absorbed under one empire. One must question the connection that held so many different people together during a time when ideas of a supreme race were so strong. Although the connection of these two great empires began close, their ideals drove them apart. The colonies that ...view middle of the document...

During the nineteenth-century, the British government consisted of three powers: the King, the Lords and the Commons; no laws would pass without the approval of the King. The monarchy had changed rule several times between the rule of King George III through to Queen Victoria in 1837. In this time, Britain waged war with the French and Spanish, fought to suppress the rebellion of Ireland, continued to seize new lands, and were facing the loss of the East India company’s monopoly in India. The naval advantages that the British empire had over its rivals was quite significant. They had a foothold in Africa, North America, India and Europe. This also allowed the government control over trading and resources. In contrast, America’s republican design of government was a system intended to be small and give control back to the people. A system where each man had the ability to become president. Of course by man this referred to the middle-aged, educated, white man. The government consisted of the political units of the thirteen states, the Constitution. In 1789, the Constitution established the Congress to comprise the Senate and House of Representatives. This enabled the separate states to form a central authority of which the United States would abide by. Through the century, America saw twenty-two presidential changes, from the inauguration of Thomas Jefferson in 1801 to William McKinley in 1897. In 1812 under President James Madison, war was declared on Britain for their interference with maritime shipping and the American push for westward expansion. The end of this war came in 1814 with the signing of the Treaty of Ghent were an agreement was made to keep things as they were before the war had started. America’s aspirations for liberation from the hold of Europe was declared in the Munroe Doctrine of 1827 when President Munroe declared America off-limits to further colonisation by Europe. Both types of government, despite their differences, were a top-down system of governance through the centralisation of power. The American President and the Queen of the British Empire could easily be referred to as the top of the hierarchy.

The British and American governments both utilised patriotism to invoke the sense of duty to the empire beginning with educating children in the “Anglo-Saxon ideal”. Schoolboys were inspired with patriotism through written works in popular magazines encouraging them to fight the wars of their empire. Through education and literature the government was able to captivate the minds of a whole generation feel the importance of self-sacrifice for the good of the empire and for the sake of the queen. Anthems such as God Save the Queen have been sung nationally in Great Britain praising the monarch. Similarly, in the American empire the Star Spangled Banner and the Pledge of Allegiance serve as a reminder that its people fight in wars restore freedom and peace as “one nation under God”. To this day, such anthems reignite the...

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