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Abolition of Serfdom  

Alexander II

The defeat of Russia in the Crimean War (1853–1856) convinced the newly enthroned Alexander II (r. 1855–1881) of the need for fundamental reforms in his country. The first institution he ... More

“At the Feet of the Village Elders”  

Oginga Odinga

The attitudes of British colonial authorities towards their subjects are reflected in Oginga Odinga’s memories of his childhood in a Kenyan village. The British government took over Kenya ... More

Calico textile  


Calico was a fine printed cotton cloth first imported to England from Calicut, on the western shore of the subcontinent, by the British East India Company. A domestic manufacture of ... More

The Communist Manifesto  

Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels

Karl Marx (1818–1883) is one of the least understood men in history. His philosophy, commonly known as Marxism, is frequently associated with the creation of a harsh totalitarian state and ... More

The death of William Huskisson, first casualty of a railroad accident  

Thomas Creevey

Although William Huskisson (1770–1830) was a prominent member of the British Parliament and a cabinet member in several governments, he is more famous for the circumstances of his death in ... More

Emperor Qianlong’s Imperial Edict to King George III  

Emperor Qianlong

The reign of Qianlong (r. 1736–1795) marked both the high point and the beginning of the decline of the Qing dynasty. Several European nations, driven by their desire to corner the market ... More

“First Premises of the Materialist Method,” The German Ideology  

Karl Marx

Karl Marx (1818–1883), the German socialist philosopher, worked alongside Engels to shape the Communist Party, which Marx outlined in his seminal text The Communist Manifesto (1848). The ... More

Hard Times  

Charles Dickens

Although his novels are beloved as works of fiction today, Charles Dickens (1812–1870) was also an acute observer of the ways in which industrialization fundamentally transformed economic ... More

Letter to the Rev. H. Venn  

Samuel Crowther

In 1807 most of the countries involved in the centuries-long Atlantic slave trade signed an international agreement to abolish the shipments of Africans to the western hemisphere. The ... More

Letters To George III  

The Qianlong Emperor

In 1793 the Earl of Macartney arrived in Beijing with a retinue of assistants and a baggage train of gifts carefully selected to impress the Qianlong emperor (1735–1795) with the ingenuity, ... More

Lin Zexu’s letter to Queen Victoria of Great Britain  

Lin Zexu

In March 1839, the Daoguang emperor sent Lin Zexu (1785–1850), a widely respected official with a reputation for courage and honesty, to Canton as an imperial commissioner, charged with the ... More

“Manifesto of the Emigrant Farmers”  

Piet Retief

In 1652, the Dutch East Indies Company established a small settlement at the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa to serve as a refueling station for its fleet of ships engaged in the Asian ... More

“Of the Principle of the Commercial or Mercantile System,” Wealth of Nations  

Adam Smith

Adam Smith (1723–1790) was a Scottish Enlightenment thinker, a renowned lecturer, and a social philosopher. Interested in how humans work and think together to form functioning societies, ... More

The Philosophy of Manufactures  

Andrew Ure

Despite the well-publicized and scandalous reports of the reformers, there remained many supporters of unregulated factory labor among British liberals. One of the most influential was ... More

Photograph of an enslaved Chinese coolie, Peru  


Chinese migration to Latin America was a major part of the pattern of mass migration streams across the world that typified the nineteenth century. “Coolies” (from the Urdu word kuli, or ... More

“Secret Plan for Managing the Country”  

Honda Toshiaki

Drawing on the conclusions of his “Western” education, Japanese economist Honda Toshiaki (1749–1821) advocated a three-pronged plan of action to level the playing field between the Tokugawa ... More

“Signs of the Times”  

Thomas Carlyle

A Scottish historian and writer, Thomas Carlyle (1795–1881) turned the difficulties of his life—a sickly nature, a crisis of faith in the Christian Church, and a tempestuous marriage—toward ... More

Testimony of Matthew Crabtree from the Sadler Committee Report  

Sadler Committee

Michael Sadler (1780–1835) was raised in an affluent and prominent English family, and after a brief stint in the family import-export business (for which he had no liking), he was elected ... More

“The Friend of the People”  

Johann Georg Eccarius

Johann Georg Eccarius (1818–1889) worked as a tailor until he became a dedicated Marxist in the 1840s, after which he worked in journalism and as a Communist organizer. In 1851 he moved to ... More

“Wage Labour and Capital”  

Karl Marx

Karl Marx (1818–1883) and Friedrich Engels (1820–1895) are best known for their collaborative work The Communist Manifesto (1848). However, the two had been observing the real consequences ... More