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The Absent-Minded ImperialistsEmpire, Society, and Culture in Britain$
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Bernard Porter

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780199299591

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199299591.001.0001

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The Prefects

The Prefects

Chapter:
(p.39) 3 The Prefects
Source:
The Absent-Minded Imperialists
Author(s):

Bernard Porter

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199299591.003.0003

The most obvious imperialists in 19th-century Britain came from the upper and upper middle classes. These were the ones who seemed to have felt the greatest pride in the empire, certainly early in the century; and in the strictly imperial aspects of it — the ruling, rather than, say, the trading or settling — most of all. This was for two main reasons. The first was that they were the people who actually did the imperial ruling: they comprised the great majority of those who were sent out to govern and officer places like India and the African colonies. That gave them practical experience of imperialism of this kind. They were already used to ‘ruling’ at home. By and large it was these classes, descended from Britain's old aristocracy, either literally or spiritually, that had dominated the country's social and political life for centuries, and continued to do so even during the age of capitalism and liberalism.

Keywords:   Britain, empire, India, colonies, imperialism, aristocracy, capitalism, liberalism, middle classes

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