‘Sprung from ourselves'
British interpretations of midnineteenth-century racial demographics
in Empire, migration and identity in the British world
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This chapter describes the ways in which anxieties about migration and racial proportions in the metropole were intricately connected to notions about the expansion of the race to other parts of the world. It discusses the connection between the census and early eugenic thinking. The chapter argues that many British observers took their expanding empire to mean not only military strength, but racial strength, and by the 1850s discussions of the relative strength of different races were common in the British press. William Farr was especially fond of comparing British industrial and urban growth with French stagnation. In 1854, Farr remarked that the United Kingdom is now covered by twenty-eight millions of people. The 1861 report explained that 'to determine the increase of the English race the emigrants must be taken into account'. The discussion of racial proportions happened in the context of broader debates about the nature of empire.


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