History KS3 / GCSE: Was the British Empire a force for good? (Part 2)

In the summer of 1861, David Livingstone and a small band of missionaries travelled up the River Shire, in what is now Malawi.

Livingstone was a deeply religious, fanatically determined Scot.

He had arrived in Africa to establish the virtues of two Victorian obsessions - 'Christianity and commerce'.

However, what Livingstone found in Africa shocked him.

Britain had abolished slavery in the Empire decades before, but he still found Africans being captured and sold by Portuguese and Arab slavers.

He made it his mission to rid West Africa of slavery.

His crusade captured the minds of the public back home.

People believed the Empire could be about more than conquest and dominance; it could be a force for good and justice.

This clip is from the series Empire.

Teacher Notes

Arrange the pupils into groups.

First, ask them to consider what was 'good' about the British Empire.

Students could then write a 19th Century newspaper obituary for David Livingstone, assessing how far he fulfilled their definition of what was 'good' about the Empire.

Curriculum Notes

This clip will be relevant for teaching History. This topic appears in KS3, KS4 and GCSE in England and Northern Ireland. Also KS3 in Wales and National 4 and National 5 in Scotland.

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Was the British Empire a force for good? (Part 1)