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Case Study 1: Why did the British become empire builders in Africa?

Britain's empire in Africa developed much later than in India or America. However, Britain had strong links with different parts of Africa long before the 19th century. It began with the slave trade in the 1700s. By the later 1800s Britain had taken control of huge territories in north, central and southern Africa.

Why did the British start by trading in slaves and eventually come to rule vast areas of African land? Look at the background and the sources in this case study and see what you can discover about the motives of the British.

Use the Worksheet to record what you find out.
The Background will give you an introduction to the rise of the British empire in Africa.
1   2   3   4
1. Map of Africa, c.1626   2. Extract on slave trade to Barbados, 1676   3. Document on British expansion in Africa, 1749   4. Annual register of slaves, 1758
5   6   7   8
5. Book on David Livingstone, 1871   6. Book on emigration to South Africa, 1891   7. Complaint against Cecil Rhodes, 1899   8. Letters about African mine workers, 1902
9. Activities of British missionaries, 1831          
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