26. Administering the British Empire before telecommunications made it simple.
Before the telegraph connected the vast British Empire, the communications between the British Isles and its dominions overseas were in the hands of the Royal Navy and the diplomats it occasionally carried to its destinations. Often, diplomacy was the purview of the ships’ captains, backed by the big guns of the squadrons. During the second half of the 19th century and the first decade of the 20th, a naval race emerged between the great powers, with Germany, France, Italy, Russia, Japan, and the United States creating fleets to patrol their growing overseas empires, and deliver the instructions from their capitals to their distant subjects. Overseas coaling stations for ships became critical components of imperial growth.