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Sir Hugh Clifford and imperialism : a perspective Wynn-Williams, Andrew Rudyerd


Sir Hugh Clifford was a British Imperial official who was born in 1866 and died in 1941. This paper attempts to understand Clifford and his perception of imperialism. First it examines his life and career to provide a framework for understanding his views. Then it uses Clifford’s own published material to study his opinions about three different aspects of imperialism: the history of European expansion, the benefits the Empire provides for its subject peoples and the racial hierarchy of the British Empire. Clifford worked throughout his career to protect his subjects’ rights and look after their well-being yet tried to prevent them from acquiring real political power. Clifford’s written work explains this paternalistic attitude. It reveals that although he knew the Empire was driven by economics and that its history was not entirely glorious he felt it was vindicated if governed by the altruistic principles which the less developed races could not yet comprehend.

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