Vicky Randall
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‘I am no lover of Empire’
The critique of British expansionism
in History, empire, and Islam
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This chapter considers Freeman’s determined public campaign against late Victorian proposals for Imperial Federation. Where proponents of this scheme argued for formal constitutional union between Britain and the white settler colonies, including Canada and Australia, Freeman maintained that such schemes were dangerously unprecedented in Western history. Joining forces with W. E. Gladstone, Freeman argued that a better model of co-operation, based on free and mutual friendship between the metropolis and its outposts, could be found in the loose federations of ancient Greece. Through an examination of Freeman’s letters to the press, his History of Federal Government in Greece and Italy, and Rede lecture on ‘The Unity of History’, I demonstrate that Freeman was a leading critic of the British Empire. Freeman was hostile to the Empire due to his fear of over-extension and disaster and because the Empire included non-Aryans. Ultimately, I demonstrate that Freeman viewed the West and the East as two separately co-existing and conflicting cultures and was anxious about the possible outcomes of contact between the two civilisations.

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History, empire, and Islam

E. A. Freeman and Victorian public morality


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