Towards British Nigeria

  • John D. Hargreaves


The British policy of “advance by commercial enterprise”, which Salisbury’s public despatch of 30 March 1892 was written to justify, had been the natural response of liberal statesmanship towards an undeveloped region of moderate importance. Since 1884 adequate diplomatic cover had been created to protect the dominant position which British capital and enterprise had secured around the lower Niger, long assumed to be the region’s richest sector; elsewhere British governments had not judged the national interest great enough to justify much exertion or sacrifice. Towards the one strategic asset of Freetown harbour they had pursued a policy of “defence by partition”, and the agreements of 1889 and 1895 seemed to secure an adequate landward perimeter;1 they preferred to meet the threat of French protectionism by negotiating continuing rights of access for British trade in French colonies rather than by territorial claims which would carry heavy financial and military commitments.


Neutral Zone British Government Imperial Position Territorial Claim Moral Suasion 
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© John D. Hargreaves 1985

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  • John D. Hargreaves

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