Although the story of evolution is largely one of scientific research and argument, it is also influenced by the social and cultural context within which Charles Darwin found himself. The first and most obvious enabling feature of Darwin's context was the status of England as an imperial power in the 19th century. With England's powerful navy and outposts from Tahiti to South America to Africa, an English ship had more and easier opportunities than any other nation's to explore the world. The voyage of the Beagle was actually part of England's empire-building effort. Without it, Darwin's theory of evolution would never have gotten off the ground. A second important cultural factor was the changing political and ideological attitude in England. When Charles attended Cambridge to study for the clergy, the conservative Tories were in power. While he was away on the
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