Case Study : Jules Ferry

HIST 410N Case Study 1 – Jules Ferry

Jules Ferry Jules Ferry was Prime Minister of France as that nation launched its imperial expansion. In a debate with member of the French Parliament, Ferry defends the decision to expand. Read his remarks and respond to the following questions: 1. According to Ferry, what recent developments in world trade (the economic argument) made it urgent for France to have colonies?

Sample Answer

The recent development that Jules Ferry felt that there was need for urgent expansion of France colonies accumulate into three key aspects: economic, political and patriotic. The economic aspect encompassed trade and civilization. These are the ports and harbor for ships to dock for loading and offloading the cargo(Ferry, 1897). Statistics indicated that the products from the textile industries in France needed an outlet because Germany was setting up trade barriers within Europe and United States of America in the other hand was becoming extremely protectionists across the ocean. Not only was the market shrinking but also becoming extremely difficult to access. At the same time these great nations were flooding France market with their own products. Due to freedom of trade, the law of supply and demand, and competition made North America to commanded bigger share of the Market in South America which was traditionally commanded by France.

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The second aspects was civilization which was founded on the fact that superior races have the right to colonize the inferior races. This was achieved by establishing supply centers, defense and safe harbor in different regions of the world. In his argument, explorers and Spanish soldiers who introduced slave trade in Central America abandoned their duties as higher race.

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The third aspect was full attention of patriotism. The development indicated that naval warfare was drastically changing. Then the France warships, however perfect designed they were could not carry enough coal for more than two weeks. Therefore, there was need to establish ports and harbor to supply shelter, provisions and for defense. The expansion was also driven by the need to extract natural resource from African countries for France industries. This was a common practice among the European colonies and Jules Ferry wanted France to be in the same league with Germany, United States of American and other great nations in Europe.

In his argument Jules Ferry stated that it was the duty of the “superior races” to civilize the “inferior races”. He went further to state that explorers and Spanish soldiers who introduced slavery in Central America failed to accomplish their duty(Luedtke, 2013). Considering these statements, critics may argue that Jules Ferry was justifying the acts of colonization and slave trade which is against the laws of human right in the present world. Jules Ferry in his wisdom circumvent these assumptions by indicating that the superior race should control the inferior races with the objective of civilization. In addition, he reiterated that European nations should acquit themselves with sincerity and generosity of this superior civilizing duty.

The non-economic arguments presented by Jules Ferry in favor of imperialism was the need for shelter, places of supply for markets to sell France’s goods and ports for defense and provisioning for boats to have safe harbor(Ferry, 1897). The ports for boats were needed because ships were limited on the supplies they could carry, like coal, which is paramount to keep moving. By giving them a place to dock they could not only refuel but also would be able to stock up supplies of other things for their journey. He claimed that nations were great not because of the “peaceable light of institutions” but because of the industries available. It is Jules Ferry’s belief that all this would not only strengthen then but also expand France like it has in other countries. He thought if expanding into Africa or the Orient was seen as a pitfall then they would be relinquishing the rank of first to third or fourth.

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