1902 Encyclopedia > Colony

Colony




COLONY. The term colony, often loosely applied, is most commonly used to denote a settlement of the sub-jects of a sovereign state in lands beyond its boundaries, owning no allegiance to any foreign power, and retaining a greater or less degree of dependence on the mother country. The founding aud the growth of such, communities furnish matter for an interesting chapter in the history as well of ancient as of modern civilization ; and the regulation of the relations between the parent state and its dependencies abroad gives rise to important problems alike in national policy and in international economics.

It was mainly the spirit of commercial enterprise that led the Phoenicians to plant their colonies upon the islands and along the southern coast of the Mediterranean ; and even beyond the Pillars of Hercules this earliest great colonizing race left enduring traces of its maritime supremacy. Carthage, indeed, chief of the Phoenician settlements, sent forth colonies to defend her conquests and strengthen her military power; and these sub-colonies natu-rally remained in strict subjection to her power, whereas the other young Phoenician states assumed and asserted entire independence.

In this latter respect the Greek colonies resembled those of the Phoenicians. From a very early period the little civic communities of Greece had sent forth numerous colo-nizing streams. At points so far asunder as the Tauric Chersonese, Cyrene, and Massilia were found prosperous centres of Greek commercial energy ; but the regions most thickly peopled by settlers of Greek descent were the western seaboard of Asia Minor, Sicily, and the southern parts of the Italian peninsula. Nor were the least prosper-ous communities those which were sprung from earlier colonies. The causes that led to the foundation of the Greek colonies were very various. As in Phoenicia, pres-sure created by the narrow limits of the home country coin-cided with an adventurous desire to seek new sources of wealth beyond seas ; but very many Greek emigrations were caused by the expulsion of the inhabitants of conquered cities, or by the intolerable domination of a hated but triumphant faction within the native state. The polity of the new community, often founded in defiance of the home authorities, might either be a copy of that just left behind or be its direct political antithesis. But wherever they went, and whether, as apparently in Asia Minor, Greek blood was kept free from barbaric mixture, or whether, as in Magna Graecia and Sicily, it was mingled with that of the aboriginal races, the Greek emigrants carried with them the Hellenic spirit and the Hellenic tongue ; and the colonies fostered, not infrequently more rapidly and more brilliantly than at home, Greek literature, Greek art, and Greek speculation. The relation to be preserved towards the mother states was seldom or never definitely arranged. But filial feeling and established custom secured a measure of kindly sympathy, shown by precedence yielded at public games, and by the almost invariable abstinence of the colony from a hostile share in wars in which the mother city was engaged.

The relation of Rome to her colonies was altogether different. No Roman colony started without the sanction and direction of the public authority ; and while the Colonia Romana differed from the Colonia Latina in that the former permitted its members to retain their political rights intact, the colony, whether planted within the bounds of Italy or in provinces such as Gaul or Britain, remained an integral part of the Boman state. In the earlier colonies, the state allotted to proposing emigrants from amongst the needy or discontented class of citizens portions of such lands as, on the subjection of a hostile people, the state took into its possession as public property. At a later time, especially after the days of Sulla, the distribution of the territories of a vanquished Boman party was employed by the victorious generals as an easy means of satisfying the claims of the soldiery by whose help they had triumphed. The Roman colonies were thus not merely valuable as propiignacula of the state, as permanent supports to Roman garrisons and armies, but they proved a most effective means of extending over wide bounds the language and the laws of Rome, and of inoculating the inhabitants of the provinces with more than the rudiments of Roman civilization.

The occupation of the fairest provinces of the Roman empire by the northern barbarians had little in common with colonization. The Germanic invaders came from no settled state ; they maintained loosely, and but for a short while, any form of brotherhood with the allied tribes. A nearer parallel to Greek colonization may be found in Iceland, whither the adherents of the old Norse polity fied frrm the usurpation of Harold Haarfager ; and the early history of the English pale in Ireland shows, though not in orderliness and prosperity, several points of resemblance to the Roman colonial system.

Though both Genoese and Venetians in their day of power planted numerous trading posts on various portions of the Mediterranean shores, of which some almost deserve the name of colonies, the history of modern colonization on a great scale opens with the Spanish conquests in America. The first Spanish adventurers came, not to colonize, but to satisfy as rapidly as possible and by the labour of the enslaved aborigines, their thirst for silver and gold. Their conquests were rapid, but the extension of their permanent settlements was gradual and slow. The terrible cruelty at first exercised on the natives was restrained, not merely by the zeal of the missionaries, but by effective official measures ; and ultimately home-born Spaniards and Creoles lived on terms of comparative fairness with the Indians and with the half-breed population. Till the general and successful revolt of her American colonies, Spain maintained and employed the latter directly and solely for what she conceived to be her own advantage. Her commercial policy was one of most irrational and intolerable restriction and repression ; and till the end of Spanish rule on the American continent, the whole political power was retained by the court at Madrid, and administered in the colonies by an oligarchy of home-bred Spaniards.

The Portuguese colonization in America, in most respects resembling that of Spain, is remarkable for the development there given to an institution sadly prominent in the history of the European colonies. The nearness of Brazil to the coast of Africa made it easy for the Portuguese to supply the growing lack of native labour by the wholesale importation of purchased or kidnapped Africans.

Of the French it is admitted that in their colonial possessions they displayed an unusual faculty for conciliating the prejudices of native races, and even for assimilating themselves to the latter. But neither this nor the genius of successive governors and commanders succeeded in preserving for France her once extensive colonies in Canada or her great influence in India. In Algeria the French Government has not merely found a practical training school for her own soldiers, but by opening a recruiting field amongst the native tribes it has added an avail-able contingent to the French army.

The Dutch took early a leading share in the carrying trade of the various European colonies. They have still extensive plantations in the East Indian Archipelago ; and though their settlement at the Cape passed into British hands, a republic of Dutch-speaking boers maintains a precarious existence northward from the British possessions. The Danish and Swedish dependencies in the Antilles are bat trifling in extent or importance.

It is the English-speaking race that has shown an unexampled energy and capacity for colonization. The English settlements in Virginia, New England, Maryland, and Pennsylvania had, between the second decade of the 17th and the seventh decade of the 18th century, developed into a new nation that was soon able to take rank with the most powerful of European states. Promoted in great measure by the desire to escape from the political or rebgious oppression of the English court, the transatlantic settlements were, though remaining under governors appointed by England, permitted to arrange their civil polity—necessarily assuming a democratic shape—-very much as they chose ; and, at first, troubles at home, and later, their distance, saved the colonies from much political interference on the part of successive English Governments. Though by the " Navigation Laws " and other enactments, England had always undertaken to regulate, in her own interest, the commercial relations between herself and her American colonists, encroachment, in the matter of taxation, on the immunity till then enjoyed provoked the spirit that in 1776 " solemnly published and declared that these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent States." The vast unoccupied territories of the United States relieve her citizens and the immi-grants who join them from seeking scope for their enter-prize beyond the recognized limits of the Republic ; but the method according to which the United States Govern-ment provides for the continuous westward advance of new settlements is essentially a system of colonization. The newly occupied lands are governed as a "territory" by the Federal Government, till the population reaches a fixed limit high enough to justify a demand to be admitted to the Union on an equal footing with the other States. The " American Colonization Society " has made in interesting philanthropic experiment for the establishment of negro freedmen in Africa ; the result is the existing independent Republic of Liberia.

It is estimated that the existing colonies and dependencies of Great Britain cover about one-sixth of the landsurface of the globe, and nearly the same proportion of its population. The various origin of these colonial possessions, and their different relations to the Crown of Great Britain, suggest the question, How the foreign dependencies of a sovereign state may best be classified?

It is clear that the ultimate constitution of a colony depends but little on the manner in which the territory for settling was originally acquired. Whether it was by conquest or by formal cession from a foreign power, the new population, even if, as in the case of Canada, it at first consisted largely of people alien in blood and language to the colonizing country- may soon obtain a constitution and relations to the ruling state identical with those of lands originally acquired from thinly-scattered and wandering savages merely by the occupancy of citizen emigrants. Of almost equal unimportance for the future organization of the colony are the motives which led the earliest settlers to emigrate. The caprice of mere adventurers, the desperate desire of broken men to repair their fortunes, and the stern determination of public-spirited men to escape for ever some unendurable civil or religious grievance at home, have in their turn given rise to colonies now hardly distinguishable in their general features. Whether the emigra-tion be purely voluntary and undertaken with or without official sanction, or systematically promoted by a Govern-ment for the furtherance of national commerce or in order to relieve itself of over-population ; whether the new landi be handed over under a royal charter to a company, or granted, as proprietary, to an individual, the traces of the initiatory conditions may speedily disappear. And around a military outpost, a mere trading factory, or the prison walls of a penal settlement, a numerous and enterprizing population may soon be tending increasing herds or engaged in the steady and profitable tillage of the soil.

The circumstances whereon the characteristic development and permanent constitution of the colony depend are the physical conditions of the territory—its climate and its products. A colony in the fullest sense of our usage of the term can arise only where the European colonist may look on his adopted habitation as his permanent home, where he can found a family and rear his children in robust health, where his and their growing patriotism may come to regard their interests as bound up with the well-being of the community of which they form a part. Here alone can " daughter lands" hope to establish a polity that, without wholly severing the bond that unites them to the parent country, shall secure for them the self-government which the British emigrant regards as his birthright. New nations of the European stock can arise only where the cereals thrive, where the settler can without physical harm undergo the fatigue of rearing and tending his flocks, and where the line that divides master from servant is narrow and easily passed—that is, in a temperate climate. On these conditions it depends whether a foreign settlement shall be, on the one hand, an agricultural or pastoral colony, or, on the other, & plantation colony merely. In the planta-tion the European is a cultivator too, and may from year to year superintend his crops of sugar, coffee, or tobacco; but his relation to the soil on which he lives is compara-tively a loose and transitory one. The difficulty of main-taining health undeteriorated by the tropical climate for more than a few years, and the impossibility of rearing a family in physical vigour, compel the planter to regard Europe as his home, even though his interests in the plantation pass to sons bred in a northern climate. They in their turn go abroad only to hasten home as soon as their views of what constitutes a competency admit. The number of European residents remains small; and the necessity of employing negro or coolie labour must divide the population into two castes,—one of masters and one of servants. And thus results the impossibility of that equal distribution of privileges and of responsibilities wherein lies the advantage of local self-government. Into one or other of the two classes of colonies thus distinguished those some-times technically termed mining and trading colonies are, according to circumstances, likely to pass. The trading colony, so long as it is a mere factory or emporium of commodities, differs but little from the settlements of Europeans within the bounds of foreign states such as China, sometimes loosely spoken of as colonies of Europeans. The term internal colonization is occasionally used of schemes for promoting the prosperity of thinly-peopled and unfertile areas in some European states. The military colonies planted by Austria along her southern frontier serve a useful and very obvious purpose.

The Colonial Office List arranges British dependencies under three heads, according to their governmental relations with the English Crown. Officially, British " colonial possessions" are either:—1. "Crown colonies, in which the Crown has the entire control of legislation, while the administration is carried on by public officers under the control of the Home Government; 2. Colonies possessing representative institutions but not responsible government, in which the Crown has no more than a veto on legislation, but the Home Government retains the control of public officers ; 3. Colonies possessing representative institutions and responsible government, in which the Crown has only a veto on legislation, and the Home Government has no control over any officer except the governor. . . . Under responsible government the executive councillors are appointed by the governor alone with reference to the exigencies of representative government, the other public officers by the governor on the advice of the Executive Council. In no appointment is the concurrence of the Home Government requisite." Some of the dependencies ranked here as Crown colonies can be called colonies only in a very loose sense. Military stations, such as Gibraltar, Malta, Aden, are convenient both to the navy and the com-mercial marine as coaling stations or ports for repair and for provisioning. The distinction between classes 2 and 3 is manifestly temporary, in most cases at least; there being, for example, no reason why an agricultural colony like that at the Cape, at present without " responsible government," should not ere long possess that privilege. India, a " Crown colony " in the list, is rarely spoken of under that name; the enormous numerical disparity between the handful of resident Europeans and the millions of civilized natives makes it seem incongruous to put India under the same category as Canada or Victoria, and to some extent justi-fies the recent adoption of the title " Empress of India " by the Queen.

It is rather the force of circumstances than the consistent maintenance of any definite policy that has shaped the relation of England to her various dependencies. But the colonial policy of the future has of late been largely debated, and with widely divergent issues. The " colonial system " so long maintained by England, as well as by all other powers, has been finally abandoned. No one now claims that the mother country has the right, still less that in self-defence she is bound, to restrict and hamper the trade of the colony for her own benefit; nor are there now found many to advocate the differential duties in favour of colonial produce, which that ancient system rendered all but neces-sary. Many, indeed, go to an opposite extreme, and argue that for both sides it would be better that the interdependent relation should be totally sundered, and each colony, as soon as possible, left to shift for itself. The trade of neither party, it is alleged, gains anything by the maintenance of the connection; the European state is exposed to needless risk in time of war by her responsibility to her scattered dependencies, and to additional expense in providing against that risk ; while the colonies are liable to be dragged into wars with which they have no concern. The good-will arising from the sense of common origin would, it is said, amply maintain all the mutual advantages enjoyed under the present system, and would secure a virtual confederacy. The democratic experiments some of our colonies have been freely permitted to carry out, and their trade legislation, divergent from that of England, the incorporative federa-tion of contiguous colonies, and the withdrawal of royal troops from the most developed colonial communities, are by many regarded as actual steps taken in the direction of an eventual separation. To another class of theorizers it appears that a " personal union," the entire legislative independence of the colonies with allegiance to the sovereign of the old country, would better secure the well-being of the several parts of the empire thus constituted; while again others contend that the interests of England and of her possessions abroad, and the cause of freedom and civilization throughout the world, would gain if the bonds of relation were yet more closely drawn together, and if pro-vision could be made for the representation of the colonies in the imperial parliament. Meanwhile, that parliament is supreme over the whole British empire; all the proceedings in the colonial legislatures are liable to be annulled by the Crown. The Crown appoints all governors, is the supreme fountain of justice, and has the sole right of declaring peace and war save in so far as that power is, under certain con-ditions, delegated to the Governor-general of India ; while the admitted aim of colonial policy is to develop the colonies socially, politically, and commercially quite as much as if their ultimate independence were the end contemplated.
Whether European Governments systematically encourage or repress emigration, it is clear that the overgrowth of population in the more densely-peopled centres of the old civilization must continue to send forth emigrants and to increase the already rapid growth of the existing colonies. It is significant for the future of European colonization that, of available territory in the temperate regions of America and Australasia (the temperate portions of Central Asia being, as inaccessible, ill adapted for European settlements), eighty per cent, is calculated to belong to the Anglo-Saxon race ; and while the colonies of the English-speaking race have welcomed industrious men of all nationalities, tongues, and religious and political prepossessions, the colonial institutions, even where they differ most widely in their administration from those of England, bear an unmis-takably English stamp, and have been manifestly moulded by an English spirit.

See Heeren, Geschichte d. Europ. Staatensystems u. seiner Colonien, 1809 ; H. Merivale, Lectures on Colonization and the Colonies, 1839-41, new edition, 1861 ; Arthur Mills, Colonial Con-stitutions, 1856 ; Sir E. Creasy, Imperial and Colonial Constitution of the Britannic Empire, 1872; W. E. Forster, Our Colonial Empire, 1875.

The following table, which is based on the latest returns and estimates, indicates the extent and population of the colonial pos-sessions of the various European countries, but does not include any colony that was settled before the 15th century :—

GREAT BRITAIN.
Engines. r°P»lati°n-
Europe—
Heligoland (German coast) 5 2,000
Gibraltar (Spain) 2 15,000
Malta, &c, (Mediterranean) 115 150,000
JV. America—
Dominion of Canada 3,500,000 4,000,000
Newfoundland 40,000 161,000
Bermudas 24 12,000
West India Islands, various 14,000 l,2r0,000
Honduras (Central America) 13,500 25,000
Carrv forward 3,567,646 5,615,000

Eng. Smiles. P°P"la"on
Brought forward 3,567,646 5,615,000
S- America—
Guiana 76,000 194,000
Falkland Islands 6,500 800
Africa—
Ascension and St Helena 80 6,300
West Coast Settlements 17,000 578,000
Cape Colony 230,000 1,110,000
Natal 11,200 290,000
Mauritius, &c 708 316,000
Aden and Perini 12 26,000
India 938,360 191,300,000
Ceylon 25,740 2,406,000
Straits Settlements 1,210 308,000
Labuan (Borneo) 45 4,900
Hong Kong (China) 32 120,000
Australasia—
Australia 3,000,000 1,725,000
Tasmania 26,215 105,000
New Zealand 106,250 345,000
Oceania—
Fiji 8,030 85,000
8,015,028 204,535,000

FRANCE.
America-
St Pierre and Miquelon( Newfound-
land) 81
Martinique, Guadeloupe, &c. (West
Indies) 1,093
Guiana (South America) 47,000
Africa—
Algeria 150,500
Coast of Senegambia 10,000
Coast of Guinea 7,750
Mayotte Island and Madagascar
Settlements 270
Reunion (Indian Ocean) 970
Asia—
Pondi cherry, &c. (India) 200
Cochin China 21,700
Oceania—
New Caledonia and Loyalty Islands 7,600
Marquesas 478
247,642

SPAIN.
America—
3
3,250 850
65,800
1,300 120,703
Cuba and Porto Rico (West Indies) Africa—
Ceuta, Tetuan, &c. (Marocco)
Canary Islands
Coast of Guinea
Asia—
Philippines (Eastern Archipelago) Oceania—-Caroline, Pelew, and Marion Islands

PORTUGAL.
Europe—-
Azores 1,000
Africa—
Madeira 320
Cape Verd Islands 1,500
Coasts of Senegambia and Guinea 500
Angola 300,000
Mozambique, &c. (East Coast) 380,000
Goa, &c. (India) 1,610
Timoi, &c. (Eastern Archipelago).. 5,520
Macao (China) 1
690,451
40,000 70,000

HOLLAND.
America—
Curacoa, &c. (West Indies) 436
Guiana (S. America) 66,000
Asia—
Java and other islands (Eastern
Archipelago) 615,000
oil, 436
Area. Eng. sq. miles.
161

DENMARK.
Greenland—
Coast Settlements
America—
St Thomas. &c. (West Indies).
34,000 140 34,140
Population.

9,800 37,700 47,500

SWEDEN.
2,900
America-
St Bartholomew (West Indies)








Search the Encyclopedia:



About this EncyclopediaTop ContributorsAll ContributorsToday in History
Sitemaps
Terms of UsePrivacyContact Us



© 2005-16 1902 Encyclopedia. All Rights Reserved.

This website is the free online Encyclopedia Britannica (9th Edition and 10th Edition) with added expert translations and commentaries