The Scottish Enlightenment – Colonies (part 6)

Part six of my notes from The Scottish Enlightenment

Scots played a huge part in the shaping of the British Empire. The first part of the history of the British empire died when the trade monopoly over the Atlantic was stopped by the American revolution. The second was shaped by the ideas of Charles Pasley from Eskdalemuir in Dumfriesshire. He wrote An Essay on the Military Policy and Institutions of the British Empire which changed how Britons thought their empire should relate to the rest of the world. Britain would need to fight to gain its empire and by using the colonies as a resource for soldiers and sailors it grew by an average of 100,000 square miles per year between the Battle of Waterloo and the American Civil War. One reason for the success of the Scots in the new Empire was their world leading education system, even the poorer had impressive skills.

The Black Watch, with its distinctive blue and green tartan was started by the local Stuart clans to patrol the Highlands after the Jacobite rising to put down the remaining rebels. By 1815 there were 86 Highland regiments and were a backbone to the British army. They had included many who had previously fought for the Jacobites. Military innovation included a breech loaded rifle that could fire twice as fast as the muzzle loaded models and the percussion lock which used poattium chlorate instead of flint to fire and could shoot in any weather.

In 1806 the monopoly East India Company commissioned Scotsman James Mill to write a history of the British colonisation of India. The History of British India was the first attempt to apply the four-stage theory of civilisation to a non-western culture. He concluded that Britain should colonise India to civilise it with good government. This was done largely under Scottish leaders, the followers of Edinburgh-educated governor general Lord Minto. They negotiated and fought for peace with the Sikhs, Persians and between Muslims and Hindus. James Dalhousie (Lord Ramsey) was governor-general from 1848 for 8 years and create railways and national telegraph and postal services. He increased schools and irrigation projects and pushed for woman’s rights in a country where they had none. His changes caused a revolution which lasted for two years and was put down by two Scottish generals Colin Campbell and Hugh Rose, destroying any last rules from natives. Scots were skillful merchants in India and created a smuggling trade with China of opium. The Opium wars were so successful that the Chinese had to sign a treaty to legalise that and other trade in 1842 which included the founding of a colony there, Hong Kong.

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