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By the late 1880s, British public interest in the colonies had increased dramatically. The explorations in Africa, the death of Livingstone, the discovery of gold and diamonds, Disraeli’s creation of the Queen as Empress of India and his revelling in British rule overseas, the various ‘little wars’ of the 1870s and 1880s and the jingoistic outbursts which accompanied them, as well as the new racial theories which were gradually beginning to capture the public imagination, had all played their part. There were also mounting fears about Great Britain’s economic prospects and growing concern about her future role in the world, with new rivals showing an interest in colonial expansion as Great Britain became increasingly isolated. Britain’s knee-jerk responses, the acquisition of more territory and the chauvinism of the late 1890s, were as much the product of these feelings of insecurity as they were of arrogance and pride.
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