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The imperial vision of Halford Mackinder

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From 1899 to 1939, Halford Mackinder was active in imperial affairs. In 1899, the same year he climbed Mount Kenya, he set out the case for free trade. Rapidly he converted to imperial protectionism, left the Liberal Party and joined the Conservatives. Mackinder, along with his associates in the Conservative Party, Leo Amery and Lord Milner, promoted the cause of imperial unity and imperial preference in trade. During the period 1899–1903, Mackinder's evolving ideas about empire helped shape the Pivot paper, and he spelt out a prescription to avoid imperial decline: bind Britain and the Dominions into a League of Democracies with one fleet and one foreign policy, and encourage economic growth within the empire by a system of tariffs that promoted imperial trade. In Mackinder's parliamentary career (1910–22), his party was never in power and the Liberals retained free trade. Only after World War I, at the end of his parliamentary career, did Mackinder become active in imperial policy as chair of the Imperial Shipping Committee and the Imperial Economic Committee.
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Keywords: Imperial Shipping Committee; Kenya; Mackinder; Pivot paper; free trade; tariff reform

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Government and School of Education, The College of William and Mary in Virginia, Williamsburg, VA 23187-8795, USA, Email: [email protected]

Publication date: 2004-12-01

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