A new period in the history of the Dutch East Indies began around 1870. A policy directed at intervention and expansion soon brought many territories outside Java under Dutch rule. Plantation owners and shipping and mining companies set out for these so-called Outlying Districts, following the path of the Dutch army's national tricolour. As a result, Dutch colonial rule reached its peak, politically and economically, in the decades following 1890.
From the turn of the century, the call for the ‘native’ population to share in the ‘success’ grew ever louder. All kinds of plans ‘to elevate the native’ saw the light of day: the so-called Ethical Politics. Gradually the awareness emerged that these same ‘natives’ had their own ideas about their future and would not accept Dutch rule forever. This attitude caused a return to the old conservative ideology in Dutch circles during the 1920s.