National Geographic : 1900 Jun
THE COLONIAL EXPANSION OF FRANCE The Third Republic marks a signal advance. To some, colonies seemed poor compensations, but nevertheless compensations for Alsace. The brightening of the situation in Algeria was an incentive for wider experiments. The consciousness of the growing inferiority of France in territorial extent as compared with the great powers of the world also encouraged the expansion idea. The objection that the stationary population of France is fatal to expansion is rather an argument for it. The birth-rate of Frenchmen has always been higher in the temperate colonies than at home. In Algeria it is 15 per thou sand higher than in Vermont and 11 higher than in France. In Tunis it is double that of Vermont and 14 per thousand higher than in France. This, however, is not of much moment, inasmuch as most of the French territories cannot become the permanent home of Europeans. COLONIES ESSENTIAL TO A GREAT POWER Colonies, to many, have appeared necessary to progress, and their lack or their subordinate importance as leading to retrogression. " Colonization," says M. Paul Leroy-Beaulieu, " is for France a ques tion of life and death." It means self-propagation and self-protec tion. In order not to be behind the great powers, she must share in that great movement of territorial enlargement which is a common trait of great nations. Without the shedding of much blood, France established a pro tectorate over Tunis. Senegal became the starting point of a march eastward, continued until the French flag waved over Timbuktu, the mysterious city of Tennyson, "shadowing forth the unattainable." French Guinea, the Ivory Coast, Dahomey, and the French Kongo were extended eastward and northward until they met, and with the Sahara, Tunis, and Algeria formed a continuous whole from the Kongo River and the Ubangi to Algiers, practically the whole of northwestern Africa, with the exception of important territorial indentations on the coast held by different European powers and Morocco, On the east side of Africa, France endeavored to regain Madagascar, whence she had been so cleverly expelled by Lord Farquhar. She succeeded in establishing a protectorate, and as the Hovas eluded its consequences in 1895, General Duchesne led a brave little army to the heights of Emyrna and seized the capital, Antananarivo. Diplo matic considerations led France to annex the island, though her intention was only to secure a real protectorate.