Journal Article

A Fall from Grace? National Unity and the Search for Naval Power and Colonial Possessions 1848—1884

Matthew Fitzpatrick

in German History

Published on behalf of German History Society

Volume 25, issue 2, pages 135-161
Published in print April 2007 | ISSN: 0266-3554
Published online April 2007 | e-ISSN: 1477-089X | DOI:
A Fall from Grace? National Unity and the Search for Naval Power and Colonial Possessions 1848—1884

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Traditionally, German naval and colonial agitation has been discussed as a late nineteenth-century development that signaled the cooption of many German liberals to a conservative policy of imperialism. This has been posited by many historians as antithetical to the true nature and objectives of political liberalism. Those few commentators that have noted the naval and colonial agitation of liberals during the early and mid-nineteenth century have argued that there was a period in which these imperialist pressures were subdued, when their end was heralded by the failure of the nationalist movements of 1848/49 to consolidate their nation-building project. Through an investigation of the Frankfurt National Assembly and the National Association of the 1860s it becomes apparent, however, that German liberal imperialism did not represent the distasteful invention of a somehow corrupted liberalism of the 1880s, nor did it cease to be a leitmotiv within liberal circles after 1849. Rather, German liberals, enamoured with the model of Britain as a global trading power and concerned with the economic repercussions of undirected emigration, had continuously argued for a German imperialist capacity throughout the nineteenth century as an integral part of any attempt to build a trading nation that could compete internationally.

Keywords: Germany; nationalism; colonialism; imperialism; liberalism; navy

Journal Article.  0 words. 

Subjects: European History

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