National Geographic : 1900 Jun
THE COLONIAL EXPANSION OF FRANCE their slaves. As to Napoleon, Europe was the field of his ambition. If he thought of India, it was that he might strike his enemy at her most vulnerable point. Had he cherished the designs ascribed to him by Seeley, he would never have sold Louisiana to the United States. His wars left France diminished, not only in Europe, but also in other parts of the world. The strategic position of the Indian Ocean, the island of Mauritius, was ceded to England, and with it, through the astute governor of that island, was raised the problem of Madagascar. THE BEGINNINGS OF THE NEWER EXPANSION IN AFRICA AND ASIA The Restoration was timid in its defense of French colonial rights. Its power, restored by foreign bayonets, was so unsteady at home that it could do little abroad and cared to do but little; yet it was this same Bourbon government that inaugurated the newer expansion, which was destined to better fortune. This expansion, unlike that of England, was not the result of a well-concerted design, but of imper ative necessity. The Algerians, unmindful of the lessons which they had received in 1815 from Admiral Decatur, and in 1817 from Lord Exmouth, were desolating the Mediterranean coasts, and especially the coasts of France. France reluctantly took Algiers. The Orleanists accepted the campaign in Algeria as a troublesome inheritance, and gallantly attempted its never-ending conquest. Here France faced some of the most fearless warriors of the world-men whose bravery was heightened by religious fanaticism. England has never found upon her path such an ethnic and religious barrier. Some public men, even as late as 1845, proposed to abandon the province to its own fate. This, fortunately, was not done; but, on the contrary, the French flag was planted upon French Kongo and Grand Bassam, in Africa, and upon important groups of the Polynesian islands. During the Second Empire colonial interests did not receive the attention which they deserved. Colonial preeminence in distant lands demands the preeminence of colonial interests at home. Not art, not philosophy, not science, not social life, but colonial aims, should be first in the national thought. This was far from the case during the Second Empire. However, the pacification of Algeria was progress ing and French rule was extending southward. Napoleon encouraged the enlargement of Senegal eastward and took possession of Obok, near the Red Sea; New Caledonia, in the Pacific, and Cochin China, in Asia.