6.3C: Indigenous Responses to State Expansion

Governance Icon

AP Theme


Learning Objective 6C

Explain how and why internal and external factors have influenced the process of state building from 1750 to 1900.

Historical Development 1

Increasing questions about political authority and growing nationalism contributed to anticolonial movements.

Historical Development 2

Anti-imperial resistance took various forms, including direct resistance within empires and the creation of new states on the peripheries.

Historical Development 3

Increasing discontent with imperial rule led to rebellions, some of which were influenced by religious ideas.


Imperialism devastated most conquered societies. By the end of the 19th century, loss of land, loss of control over their labor, and loss of independent economic decision-making meant colonial societies primarily benefited the colonizers. Only small elite groups of natives that worked closely with colonizers benefited from imperialism. Despite the power of imperial forces, most people within conquered societies resisted fiercely through various movements of resistance and rebellion.

Native grievances against 2nd wave imperialism

Missionary activities

Political control of colonizers

Changing landholding patterns resulted in colonizers benefiting most from the land

Over taxation of peasants and the poor

Exploitation of labor


Anti-colonial nationalist movements

Anti-colonial resistance movements sprang up against the expansion of colonial powers.

Types of anti-imperial nationalist movements 

Direct resistance within empires

active defiance of colonial regimes that often used violent strategies to counter the violence of colonizers

The creation of new states within and along colonizers borders

some anti-colonial movements sought to carve out new states for their people

Religious rebellions

anti-colonial rebellions often used references to traditional religious beliefs to organize against colonizers

Direct resistance within empires

Within established colonial empires, native populations resisted colonial control through direct action against colonial authorities.

New states within and along colonial boundaries

During the 19th century, new states developed on the borders of major empires. During much of the 19th century, these new states maintained some independence from industrial colonizers. However, in the early 20th century, most of these states were taken over and incorporated into their more powerful neighbors.

Rebellions inspired by religion

Native peoples’ traditional religions were powerful tools that native leaders used to motivated their communities against colonial authorities.