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Islands and Empires

Islands and Empires: Western Impact on the Pacific and East Asia

Ernest S. Dodge
Volume: 7
Copyright Date: 1976
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 396
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  • Book Info
    Islands and Empires
    Book Description:

    This is the first one-volume account of the massive impact of Western civilization on the Pacific Islands and the Far East, principally China and Japan. The effects on the two areas were very different since, in the case of the islands, contact was with peoples who were still in the Stone Age, while in the Far East Westerners came up against sophisticated civilizations more ancient and mature than their own. Because of these differences, the book is divided into two sections, the first dealing with the Pacific Islands and the second with the East Asian mainland. Reverse influences - those of the Eastern cultures on the West - are also discussed.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-5550-2
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-xiv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. xv-xvi)
  3. Part I. The Pacific Islands

    • CHAPTER 1 The Great New Ocean
      (pp. 3-12)

      The day was November 28, 1520, when Ferdinand Magellan emerged from the narrow strait near the tip of South America that now bears his name. Ever since Columbus discovered that it was not plain open-water sailing all the way from Spain to Cathay, European mariners had probed the American continent to find a passage to Far Eastern riches. Now a passage was found, and in front of Magellan stretched the limitless Great South Sea that Balboa had seen from the Panama Isthmus seven years before. Provisions were short. The largest ship, theSanto Antonio,had deserted in the strait; but...

    • CHAPTER 2 The Claw of the Devil
      (pp. 13-30)

      The age of primary Pacific discovery, from Magellan to Cook, was an age of wonder for the Western discoverers; it also opened a world of wonder for island dwellers whose cultures and life-styles, once matured, had remained unchanged for many centuries. The towering masts and white sails, the pale, often cruel, people, the cannon’s thunder, had the same effect on the simple fishermen and agriculturists of isolated Pacific islands that an invasion of heroic gods might have had descending from Mount Olympus into Grecian vineyards and olive groves. It was a traumatic experience—an experience to which various islanders reacted...

    • CHAPTER 3 Paradise Found
      (pp. 31-54)

      The late eighteenth century voyages of Wallis and Bougainville were preliminary, scene-setting acts on the stage that shortly introduced the giant figure of the great Captain James Cook. Cook looms larger, stands taller, and sailed farther than any of his predecessors, contemporaries, or successors in that Pacific world he made his own. He also discovered more islands, met more people, surveyed more coasts, mastered more diverse sailing conditions, and brought his crews home in better health than any explorer before his time. In a century of great men Cook, by his deeds, his level-headedness, his firmness combined with humanity, his...

    • CHAPTER 4 Island Harvests
      (pp. 55-68)

      The three expeditions of Cook opened up the island world. Before his voyages, the vast Pacific basin was virtually unknown. To be sure, Spanish settlements fringed the western Central and South American coastline and their annual galleons crossed the ocean, nonstop except for Guam, to the Philippines. But neither the discoveries of Mendaña and Quiros nor the galleons’ voyages ever led to occupation or commercial activity. On the western fringe the Portuguese and Dutch were busy exploiting the Spice Islands and the English had reached China, where the East India Company held a monopoly.

      Curiously enough it was the Hawaiian...

    • CHAPTER 5 Whalers Ashore
      (pp. 69-84)

      While traders dickered for pearl shell and sandalwood, for tortoise shell and bêche-de-mer, another set of men were sailing the Pacific from north to south. Whalers, English, French, and American, but mostly the latter, were crimsoning the blue water wherever they could make their kills. The demand for whale oil was on the increase when the first hunters entered the Pacific in the late 1700s and it continued to grow for about another fifty years. The best oil came from the sperm whale or cachalot, and sperm (although distributed around the world) were more abundant in the Pacific than elsewhere....

    • CHAPTER 6 Save Thy Brother
      (pp. 85-101)

      The first two mission attempts in the Pacific, following the haphazard experiments on the voyages of Mendaña and Quiros, were Spanish and Roman Catholic. One was successful; the other abortive.

      It is not surprising that Guam, the port of call for refreshment for the Manila galleons, became the one Pacific island to receive Spanish missionaries at an early date. A Franciscan padre made the first attempt as early as 1596, but not until 1668, when the Jesuit Diego Luis de Sanvitores landed, was a permanent mission established. The missionaries were at first well received. However, conflicts with native mores caused...

    • CHAPTER 7 Ceremonies and Conflicts
      (pp. 102-117)

      The exploitation of the Pacific coasts and islands that began almost immediately after the publication of Cook’s third voyage in 1784 was at first an economic one. New products for the China market lured traders who criss-crossed the Pacific from Antarctica to Alaska and from Peru to Australia. The abundance of whales and the demand for oil pushed hundreds of whale ships into this new bonanza. Reeking tryworks smudged the blue horizons of all the vast whaling grounds. Soon the first invaders for other than economic reasons appeared; black-frocked missionaries, bringing the word of God and the promise of eternal...

    • CHAPTER 8 They Came to Do Good
      (pp. 118-128)

      As we have seen, the London Missionary Society began its mission in Tahiti and, after establishing a secure foothold, moved westward to ever more remote islands. Beginning somewhat later, but in imitation of the London group and operating parallel with them north of the equator, the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions established their base in the Hawaiian Islands and eventually pushed west through Micronesia.

      The American Board was founded in Boston in 1810. In 1817, stimulated by a young Hawaiian named Obookiah, it established the Foreign Mission School at Cornwall, Connecticut, specifically to train young men from foreign...

    • CHAPTER 9 Botany Bay
      (pp. 129-141)

      Not all Europeans in the Pacific in the first half of the nineteenth century came directly from Europe or America. With the growing colony in New South Wales there was not only increasing trade from Sydney to the islands, but the beachcomber population was being augmented by escaped convicts from the penal colonies.

      On his first voyage Captain James Cook, after observing the transit of Venus at Tahiti and making his remarkable survey of New Zealand, sailed westward and on April 29, 1770, discovered the eastern coast of Australia. The shores of his first anchorage bloomed with flowers against a...

    • CHAPTER 10 Pakeha and Maori
      (pp. 142-155)

      Australia and New Zealand are very different countries: different in their dimensions and topography, different in their native inhabitants, different in their origins as English-speaking European nations. They are alike in their isolation until the days of modern air travel, and both owe their first European discovery to the Dutch.

      Australia, continental in its dimensions, is, except for narrow coastal belts, largely arid plains and desert. Its long coastline has few good harbors; the plant life is gray; the animals are marsupials; the nomadic aborigines are one of the most primitive people on earth. New Zealand is ruggedly mountainous; the...

    • [Illustrations]
      (pp. None)
    • CHAPTER 11 Traders and Blackbirders
      (pp. 156-165)

      From the time of discovery the principal island groups of Polynesia were exposed to continual European contact. Exploration ships were quickly followed by traders and whalers; missionaries established their footholds; beachcombers and other stray settlers began to leaven the population. Thus the commercial, religious, and political impact, from the late eighteenth century onward, was constant and increasingly complex. By the mid-nineteenth century, therefore, the islands of the Central Pacific had long since been drawn into a western European and American orbit whose diverse influences were reaching out along the commercial trade routes of the world. There were good reasons for...

    • CHAPTER 12 From Confusion to Colonies
      (pp. 166-183)

      Even as traders bartered for sandalwood and bêche-de-mer, for pearl and tortoise shell; as whalers traded rum and firearms for fresh fruit and vegetables, for girls and a day ashore out of the stinking forecastles—while all this was going on, smart naval vessels were crisscrossing the greatest ocean in the world. The swindling trader, it was thought, had to be protected from the sneaky island con man. The whaler, while dispensing rum and gunpowder, gonorrhea and syphilis, smallpox and measles, must be sheltered from the lascivious grin of a twelve-year-old maiden or the stealing of nails by technologically impecunious...

    • CHAPTER 13 Exploitation
      (pp. 184-195)

      The spread of colonialism, as the great powers took over the various islands during a period of about fifty years, brought political stability. This in turn encouraged financial investments that in some islands completely transformed the economy. Traders enlarged their holdings; big companies with substantial financial resources risked investment. World conditions helped to increase markets for island exports, especially coconut products and phosphate, and encouraged experimentation with agricultural crops that could flourish in island soil and climate.

      Nevertheless the economic road was strewn with experiments that failed commercially. We have already seen how the introduction of cotton to Queensland, Fiji,...

    • CHAPTER 14 Change and Life
      (pp. 196-204)

      How have the islanders of the principal archipelagoes fared? The result of two hundred years of intensive white impact varies widely from group to group. Estimates of indigenous populations made shortly after discovery are probably not very reliable, but they are all there is to go on. Some peoples have been more resilient than others. Some islands have a larger native population than the day they were discovered; others are still only beginning to return from the mere remnants they were reduced to. Certain it is that none are unchanged and none can ever again be as they were on...

  4. Part II. East Asia

    • CHAPTER 15 The Road to Cathay
      (pp. 207-219)

      European civilization made its earliest contacts with China, as we know the area today, by seeping into the Far East through the back door—first by the long land routes across Asia, next by eastern Mediterranean seafarers sailing from the Red Sea to India, and then by Arab dhows from the Persian Gulf running the Indian Ocean with the monsoons. Although Portuguese ships were in Macao by the early 1500s and there was some continuous limited trade from then on, only in the late eighteenth century did the European seaborne trade begin its great contact with China at the far...

    • CHAPTER 16 To Cathay by Sea
      (pp. 220-232)

      While China withdrew into its hermetically sealed borders to preserve a great culture intact for half a millennium, Europe was undergoing one of those explosive awakenings that sometimes stir a civilization to its very foundations. The great intellectual revival called the Italian Renaissance was probing with critical eyes and scientific zeal into every sacred cupboard of inherited Western knowledge. Art and literature flourished. And in the bleaker north the surging religious undercurrents broke into the full surf of the Reformation, shattering forever the unity of Christendom.

      Meanwhile the European demand for spices, especially to cure meat for the winter and...

    • CHAPTER 17 Compėtitors of Portugal
      (pp. 233-245)

      Lusitanian power, although waning in the early seventeenth century, was not to be scorned and trade was still lucrative. Portuguese success in the rich Eastern spice and silk trades was a source of irritation to their Spanish rivals. The Spanish rulers, at first thinking Columbus had reached Cathay and the East Indies, soon discovered the truth: an unknown continent, inhabited by a new race, blocked the way. Furthermore there appeared to be no transcontinental passage on its long and winding coast. To be sure, the land was narrow at the Isthmus of Panama, where Balboa saw the Great South Sea...

    • CHAPTER 18 Barbarians All
      (pp. 246-258)

      Unlike China, which by and large had enjoyed a centralized imperial government over many centuries, sixteenth-century Japan was fragmented into warring feudal fiefs. Swarms of Japanese pirates, calledWakō, raided shipping along the China coast and and occasionally, as traders, went as far as the Malay Peninsula and to Luzon in the Philippines. The raids of the “robber dwarfs,” as the Chinese called them, were a constant source of harassment to the Middle Chinese traders were forbidden to have any business dealings with them whatsoever. This was a situation made to order for astute middlemen, and the Portuguese, purely by...

    • CHAPTER 19 The China Trade
      (pp. 259-275)

      While the Chinese allowed the Portuguese their tenuous toehold at Macao from about 1555 on, that trading port, after the ending of the trade with Japan in 1640, deteriorated into a sleepy, impoverished outpost. Aside from Macao and the Portuguese’s Jesuit mission at Peking and a few other stations,Europeans were not tolerated in the Middle Kingdom.

      The Spanish attempted unsuccessfully to open relations with the Chinese in 1575 and from time to time thereafter, but their only substantial contact was with the Fukien traders who came to Manila. The Dutch fared no better. In 1604 and 1607 when they sent...

    • CHAPTER 20 Eastern Impact on the West
      (pp. 276-287)

      There is no resemblance whatsoever between European impact in the Pacific islands and the collision between the great Eastern and Western civilizations that took place in the Far East from about 1500 to 1850. Except for such aspects as the fashion of entertaining assorted South Sea travelers described in Chapter 3, the dilettante effect on Rousseau’s philosophy, the insatiable consumption by readers of books on Pacific voyages, and a flurry of theatrical productions, imaginary paintings, and wall paper, the South Seas had little effect on the mainstream of European culture. Perhaps the most lasting was the fashionable, transitory, imaginatively appealing,...

    • CHAPTER 21 The Revival of China Missions
      (pp. 288-299)

      The opening of the treaty ports brought a revival of Christian missionary activities which had languished in China for about one hundred years. After the papal decree of 1742 had ended the long Rites Controversy, the persecution of Christians increased and the Jesuits were restricted to Peking, where they were allowed some freedom, probably because they were directly under the watchful eye of the emperor.

      The dissolution of the Society of Jesus in 1773, after prolonged infighting within the church, was a crushing blow to Chinese Christians. In 1784 a handful of Lazarist fathers took over the Catholic China mission...

    • CHAPTER 22 No More the Forbidden Kingdom
      (pp. 300-313)

      When Japan excluded the Portuguese in 1639, only the Dutch, among all Western nations, were given trading privileges. Confined after 1641 to their little factory on artificial De-shima Island in Nagasaki Harbor, they continued to exercise their solitary prerogative with annual voyages from Batavia for over two centuries. Before the closing of the country, a series of savage persecutions had eliminated Christianity as a form of public worship and driven its remnants underground. Tokugawa Japan excluded occidentals and crushed their religion. There was heroism; there were martyrs; there was appalling cruelty, apostasy, and ruthless extermination. From being the most outgoing...

    • CHAPTER 23 The Final Impact
      (pp. 314-326)

      As foreign pressure closed in on Japan and Commodore Perry’s forcible opening of the Forbidden Kingdom was succeeded by internal revolutions resulting in the dominant emergence of the emperor, occidental intrusions bored deeper into the corrupt and increasingly chaotic mainland Chinese empire. The complete military and psychological defeat administered by the British in the Opium War left the country in a state of shock. Two crises, one an internal revolt and the other an international conflict, simultaneously afflicted the ailing Middle Kingdom. Both occurred as Peking’s control of the country declined. Pirates plagued the coast; groups of bandits roamed the...

  5. Sources and Notes
    (pp. 327-334)
  6. Selected Bibliography
    (pp. 335-342)
  7. Index
    (pp. 345-364)