Growth of the Empire
The Early Years
The beginnings of the British Empire took place in the 16th century when efforts to discover new routes to the Far East resulted in many voyages for discovery and trade. The next two centuries saw the establishment of colonies in North America and trade established with India and the Far East. Such men as Cabot, Frobisher, Drake, Hudson, and Cook carried the English flag to far corners of the earth.
After the American Revolution the Canadian colonies were extended westward, settlements were made in Australia, New Zealand, and Africa; India came under British rule; and other new British colonies were established. London became the center of world commerce.
The Empire Comes of Age
Progress in trade and communication after the 1850’s caused many British emigrants to seek new homes in the colonies where discoveries of valuable minerals and rich land brought great expansion. Development of the steamship and locomotive, opening the Suez Canal, new colonial policies giving dominion status and self-government to many colonies, all contributed to strengthening the Empire.