Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts



First Advisor

Dr. John L. Gordon, Jr.

Second Advisor

Dr. John D. Treadway


After the Napoleonic Wars, British leaders increasingly objected to large burdensome formal annexations. Hence, when South American markets opened in the 1820s British leaders considered using nearby island bases to ward off regional rivals. Britain therefore occupied the Falkland Islands in 1833. Despite governing the world’s strongest industrial and naval power however, British leaders neglected the Falklands’ progress as a colony from 1833 to 1851. Dogmatic faith in “efficiency” and free trade in the 1840s led to modest commercial progress by largely unfettered private interests in the islands, but led to little improvement in defense or society. This study uses government manuscripts, newspapers, and accounts by sailors, merchants and diplomats to examine how the debate over formal annexations and the preference of free trade in foreign and colonial affairs led to the reluctant and poorly executed colonization of the Falklands.

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