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Flagships of ImperialismThe P&O Company and the Politics of Empire From Its Origins to 1867$
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Freda Harcourt and Sarah Palmer

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780719073939

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: July 2012

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9780719073939.001.0001

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Flagships of Imperialism1

Flagships of Imperialism1

(p.1) Introduction: Flagships of Imperialism1
Flagships of Imperialism

Freda Harcourt

Manchester University Press

This chapter presents an introduction to the book “Flagships of imperialism,” which focuses on the intersection of P&O's history with British imperial politics until 1867. The objective of the company was to operate the main trunk routes to the East, from the Iberian Peninsula through the Mediterranean, to India, China and, ultimately, to the Antipodes with the help of government contracts and then to monopolize them. Despite the role played by the mail contracts in the expansion of the company, they once also threatened the very existence of the company itself. The monopolistic character of its business also exposed it to intense public and political scrutiny whereas the management of its managing directors (MDs) invited internal criticism from stockholders and some ordinary directors. Arthur Anderson, the most forceful of the company's original three managing directors was accused of autocracy, secrecy, mismanagement and pursuing commercially irrelevant political connections.

Keywords:   P&O, British imperial politics, mail contracts, Arthur Anderson, government contracts

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