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Jules Ferry’ Views on French Colonial Expansion


It is worth noting that Jules Ferry was a French public and political leader. He enforced the laws regarding the free and compulsory primary education (Fermer, 2013). During the policy of the government on colonial expansion, Ferry supported such course of action. The purpose of this paper is to review the arguments provided by Ferry in a debate in 1884 that he used to defend this position.

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According to Ferry, the scale of export was increasing. Many countries were exporting more commodities while France was lagging behind in that matter. He stressed that if the country had colonies, it would be easier for it to export goods as well. As he put it, the criticality of the situation was increasing and “the need for outlets [for exports]” was urgent (“Jules Ferry”, 1984, para. 2). Respectively, as the production of consumer goods was increasing, new industrial elites needed greater markets and new spheres of capital application. The leader also noted that the lowered tariff strategy between Great Britain and France was in jeopardy since Germany had set certain limitations and obstacles (“Jules Ferry”, 1984). Therefore, the colonial expansion would enable France to regain its power in trade industries.

In terms of the reasoning against imperialism promoted by critics, they were placing a particular emphasis on the way Ferry addressed the countries that could be subjected to colonization. In particular, he stated that “the higher races have a right over the lower races” (“Jules Ferry”, 1984, para. 3). The critics were strongly against such a position and views that the rights of other people could be questioned and controlled if that was necessary (Fermer, 2013). They believed that Ferry was absolving slavery by making such statement. Ferry countered the critics by responding that superior races were entitled to force commerce due to the fact that “they have the duty to civilize the inferior races” (“Jules Ferry”, 1984, para. 4). In turn, it implied that Ferry believed that economically developed and prospering countries could impose control over the countries with weaker economy. Such a position allowed the invaders to find more easily the justification for the extermination of those who stood in their way.

Notably, Ferry provided many arguments in favor of imperialism. For instance, he noted that it would help resolve the problem of shelters. In addition, he stressed that this strategy would enable solving the issue when boats caring coal needed to make stops (“Jules Ferry”, 1984). It would make it possible to stock the vessels up again and proceed the shipment further. Apart from that, in general, imperialism would reinforce the position of France and enable it to expand similarly to other European states.


Thus, Ferry believed that the country needed to pursue colonial expansion in order to obtain markets for exporting goods and gathering capital. These perceptions were connected to the fact that the political leaders of that time were afraid that if expansion stopped, unemployment would lead to revolutionary armed actions in their own countries. In addition, as evidenced by the statements of the politician, not only economic reasons moved imperialism. This movement was characterized by the existence of racism, which was reflected in the idea that one race was superior to another, that Europe had superiority, and that it was the duty of countries to civilize the inferior nations.


Fermer, D. (2013). Three German invasions of France. Barnsley, UK: Pen and Sword.

Jules Ferry: On French colonial expansion. (1984).

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"Jules Ferry' Views on French Colonial Expansion." StudyCorgi, 30 Dec. 2020,

1. StudyCorgi. "Jules Ferry' Views on French Colonial Expansion." December 30, 2020.


StudyCorgi. "Jules Ferry' Views on French Colonial Expansion." December 30, 2020.


StudyCorgi. 2020. "Jules Ferry' Views on French Colonial Expansion." December 30, 2020.


StudyCorgi. (2020) 'Jules Ferry' Views on French Colonial Expansion'. 30 December.

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