Flagships of Imperialism<sup>1</sup>

Freda Harcourt

in Flagships of Imperialism

Published by Manchester University Press

Published in print July 2006 | ISBN: 9780719073939
Published online July 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781781700761 | DOI:
Flagships of Imperialism1

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This chapter presents an introduction to the book “Flagships of imperialism,” which focuses on the intersection of P&O's history with British imperial politics until 1867. The objective of the company was to operate the main trunk routes to the East, from the Iberian Peninsula through the Mediterranean, to India, China and, ultimately, to the Antipodes with the help of government contracts and then to monopolize them. Despite the role played by the mail contracts in the expansion of the company, they once also threatened the very existence of the company itself. The monopolistic character of its business also exposed it to intense public and political scrutiny whereas the management of its managing directors (MDs) invited internal criticism from stockholders and some ordinary directors. Arthur Anderson, the most forceful of the company's original three managing directors was accused of autocracy, secrecy, mismanagement and pursuing commercially irrelevant political connections.

Keywords: P&O; British imperial politics; mail contracts; Arthur Anderson; government contracts

Chapter.  7524 words. 

Subjects: Colonialism and Imperialism

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