BECK index

British India’s Wars 1848-1881

by Sanderson Beck

Dalhousie's Annexations 1848-56
Mutiny and Revolt 1857-58
Reconstruction of British India 1858-76
Famine and a Second Afghan War 1876-81
Bankim Chandra Chatterji's Novels

This chapter has been published in the book SOUTH ASIA 1800-1950.
For ordering information, please click here.

Dalhousie's Annexations 1848-56

British India 1800-1848

Upon Currie's advice not to declare war, Governor-General Dalhousie announced that the British government was occupying the Punjab province. Chatar Singh seized Peshawar at the end of October, and Commander-in-Chief Gough crossed the Sutlej and moved into Lahore. The armies met on the banks of the Chenab in November, but Gough waited for his troops from Multan. After news arrived that Chatar Singh's troops had captured Attock on January 3, 1849, the battle was fought at Chilianwala. The British forces lost 2,446 men, and both sides claimed victory. Meanwhile Multan was being assaulted, and Mulraj surrendered on January 22. Chatar Singh got 1,500 cavalry from Afghanistan's Dost Muhammad and joined his son; they fought the British again at Gujarat. General Whish had arrived from Multan, and the British had superior artillery. The Sikh army was routed and chased by the British cavalry for fifteen miles while Walter Gilbert's forces pursued the Afghans through the Khyber Pass. On March 12, 1849 the Sikhs surrendered and laid down their arms. An old Sikh soldier cried, "Today Ranjit Singh is dead." The prophecy of the great Sikh maharaja that the map of the Punjab would one day become all red (British) had come to pass.

Henry Lawrence returned as resident and opposed annexation; but Governor-General Dalhousie was determined, and in April 1849 he ratified the treaty in which Dalip Singh gave up sovereignty to the British for a pension. He and others later complained that those who had promised to protect him had taken away his sovereignty. Only one of the eight on the regency council had joined the rebellion, and the majority of the army had not revolted. Dalhousie had annexed the Punjab without consulting the home authorities. Maharani Jindan escaped to Nepal; she lost her property and lived there on a pension. Dalip Singh became a Christian in 1853 and went to England, but he returned to India in 1860. After he left India in 1886, he reverted to the Sikh religion.

Charles Napier was appointed commander-in-chief, and his inflammatory rhetoric had to be restrained by the Punjab board. A mutiny in Rawalpindi was solved by dismissing about a dozen men who refused to accept their pay in 1849. The next year Napier had to disband a mutinous regiment at Amritsar. He ordered that soldiers at Wazirabad be given dearness pay, making Dalhousie furious; Napier resigned and went back to England.

Governor-General Dalhousie established a board with Henry Lawrence as president but with John Lawrence to supervise finances and Charles G. Mansel (replaced by Robert Montgomery in 1851) over the judiciary. The liberal Henry and the rational John Lawrence worked together to improve the Punjab. They began with disarmament, and using the influence of the headmen 120,000 weapons were surrendered. Forts were leveled except in Peshawar, where defense against tribal raiders was needed. The Khalsa army of the Sikhs was completely disbanded and was replaced by a military of Sikhs and Muslims, a police force of mostly Muslims, and the Punjab Frontier Force. Dalhousie over-ruled Henry Lawrence and insisted that military grants be abolished. By 1852 Punjab soldiers were volunteering to fight for the British in Burma. Former soldiers took up plows, and large amounts of grain were produced. The market was flooded, and for a while transportation was difficult. Henry Lawrence talked to the peasants and got his brother John to suspend money payments. Despite reductions, more efficient taxation along with the sale of Durbar property produced annual surpluses. Eventually the Punjab became the bread-basket of India.

Henry Lawrence urged that roads, canals, and bridges be constructed. In four years 1,349 miles of roads were built; 2,487 miles were traced; and 5,272 miles were surveyed, not counting minor roads. Henry argued that the Sikh chiefs should have continued authority, but John disagreed and was supported by Dalhousie. After many arguments, in December 1852 both brothers resigned. John Lawrence was appointed commissioner, and Henry was sent as an agent to Rajputana. The people missed the kind Henry, but John continued the successful work. Edwin Arnold praised the results, writing, "Few could boast of having substituted in the space of four years, order for anarchy, obedience for irregular impulse, gardens for jungles, plenty for barrenness, peace for war."1

Between 1849 and 1856 twelve punitive expeditions suppressed raiding. The Pathans used guerrilla tactics, and so John Lawrence began giving cash allowances to influential chiefs and encouraged friendly contacts with officials. Herbert Edwardes negotiated a friendship treaty with Dost Muhammad's son in Kabul. In these seven years the Punjab spent thirty million rupees on public works. Many Sikhs already went to school, and Lahore had sixteen elementary schools for girls. In 1856 they planned to build 130 new schools, and most classes were conducted in Urdu. They established 104 Small Causes Courts that did not charge fees for legal advice.

The annexation of the Punjab was only the beginning of Governor-General Dalhousie's annexations in India. He often used the doctrine of lapse as a reason for taking over states after a ruler died without a male heir. When deposed raja Pratap Singh died in exile at Benares in 1847, his brother Apa Sahib was allowed to inherit the Maratha state at Satara. He adopted a son the day he died in April 1848, but this time Dalhousie annexed that state. When Sambalpur's ruler Narayan Singh died in 1849, Dalhousie disregarded his widow and annexed the already surrounded state. The Company took over a large part of Sikkim in 1850 to punish its ruler for mistreating British subjects. In 1852 the Mir of Khairpur was deposed. John Low persuaded the Directors not to let Dalhousie annex the Rajput state of Karauli because of Rajput feelings. Raja Raghuji Bhonsle III died without a male heir in 1853, but the reason for annexing the large Maratha state of Nagpur was to consolidate British military power and commercial resources. Low raised the only objection on the Council; he believed that these native states provided an outlet for the energies and ambitions of Indians who could not rise in British territories. Also in 1853 Dalhousie annexed Jhansi in Bundelkhand after its Maratha chief died; he too had adopted a son the day before he died. Under the subsidiary treaty the Nizam of Hyderabad came to owe the British Company some half a million pounds and was persuaded to sign over the management of his territory to the Company.

In 1837 a palace revolution removed Burman king Bagyidow, and he was replaced by his brother Tharrawaddy, who was an alcoholic. He refused to acknowledge the Treaty of Yandabo. The British were not welcome, and the Resident withdrew in 1840. Tharrawaddy was considered so insane that in 1845 he was put under restraint until he died the next year. In 1851 the British government decided to intervene on behalf of Europeans' complaints, and Dalhousie sent Commodore Lambert in a frigate to Rangoon. Burman king Pagan Min sent conciliatory letters and replaced the offending governor of Rangoon.

In January 1852 Lambert sent interpreter Edwards to arrange a meeting with the new governor; but his deputation was put off when they were told the governor was asleep. Lambert gave asylum to British subjects on his ships and blockaded the rivers. Despite a warning that a yellow ship belonged to the king of Burma, Lambert seized it and refused to give it back even when the Governor offered to pay compensation for the grievances. Lambert provoked the Burman batteries to fire and then destroyed them. Dalhousie admitted that Lambert started the war by seizing the king's ship. Even though Dalhousie repudiated Lambert's action, he accepted responsibility and gave the king an ultimatum to pay one million rupees by April first. He sent the 38th Native Infantry by the Dacca road, because they were not required to fight overseas by their enlistment contract. John Lawrence later criticized Dalhousie for sending a commodore if he wanted peace, and Richard Cobden wrote a pamphlet on the origin of the Burman war, condemning the whole affair.

General Godwin arrived in Rangoon on April 2, 1852, and the war began. Rangoon was captured on April 14, and the British took Bassein in May. They captured the city of Pegu and installed a prince from an old ruling family. In July the British captured the fortress of Prome; but after the interlude of the rainy season these two places had to be recaptured in the fall. Dalhousie rejected a march on the capital at Ava and ordered annexation to somewhere beyond Prome. The Burman king declined to negotiate a treaty, and in December the annexation was proclaimed. In February 1853 King Pagan Min was replaced by his half-brother Mindon, who wanted peace; he ordered his officers to stop attacking British forces and released their prisoners. Major Arthur Phayre was appointed commissioner of the new province that extended fifty miles beyond Prome.

In 1847 Hardinge had warned Wajid Ali Shah of Awadh (Oudh) that he had two years to put his house in order or face annexation. Wajid Ali was an accomplished poet and liked to spend his time with musicians and artists. Dalhousie asked Resident William Sleeman to investigate, and he described the corruption and anarchy in the country. The property-owning Talukdars regularly terrorized the poor cultivators. Robbery and murder were common. The Awadh shah complained later that Sleeman had interfered with his administration by urging people to submit complaints and even gathered names on a list of those who wanted the East India Company to govern Awadh. Bishop Heber had described Awadh as a prosperous country in 1825, and the two British residents between 1839 and 1847 testified that Nasir-ud-daullah had improved agriculture, reformed the police, revenue, and the judiciary, encouraged commerce, and sponsored public works such as schools, colleges, tanks, and wells.

Wajid Ali Shah was open to improvements by British administration, and Sleeman advised the British government to help without taking over the revenues of Awadh. Henry Lawrence recommended letting Awadh be governed by its own people. Sleeman wrote about Dalhousie's intentions regarding annexation, "There is no pretext, however weak, that is not sufficient, in their estimation, for the purpose; and no war, however cruel, that is not justifiable, if it has only this object in view."2 Sleeman saw the danger and warned that the native states were the breakwaters. If the annexations swept them away, they would be left at the mercy of the native army, which they may not always be able to control. Dalhousie wanted to warn the king again; but the Council felt the risk of recalling British troops should not be taken. Finally in January 1856 the Court of Directors extended Dalhousie's term and approved his annexation of Awadh. He sent Outram with a treaty; but Wajid Ali told him that treaties were for equals, and being treated as an inferior he would not sign nor accept the pension. Annexation was proclaimed four days later. Many Talukdars lost their land, and cultivators suffered from high assessments. About 50,000 sepoys were dismissed. The tax on opium was increased, and prices generally went up.

In October 1855 the last Karnatak nawab Muhammad Ghaus Khan died without a son, and Dalhousie would not recognize his uncle Azim Jah as nawab. That same month Raja Shivaji of Tanjore also died without a male heir. The Court of Directors declared that no daughter of a Hindu sovereign could succeed, and Dalhousie avoided deciding about the claim of the senior widow. The next Governor-General Canning decided to restore the property but not the regalia of the family.

Dalhousie also implemented internal reforms and promoted western education, planning three universities. In Bengal the Santals rebelled against harassment by police and revenue officials. Bengal had been under the busy Governor-General. The Company Charter was renewed again in 1853, and the new Charter Act created a lieutenant-governor to oversee Bengal, Bihar, Orissa, and Assam. Since 1833 complaints had been made that the Indians were not appointed to higher positions, but the 1853 Act did little to remedy that. Competitive examination for the Company's covenanted service took away patronage from the Directors; their number was reduced from 24 to 18, and six were to be appointed by the Crown. The Act abolished the Military Board and transferred public works to a new department that was staffed with engineers as well as military men. A system of railroads was planned, and the first 150 miles were constructed. A telegraph system was created and extended wires for nearly 4,000 miles. Reformed postal facilities fixed a uniform rate for letters. Charles Wood took responsibility for improving education. Forest conservancy and tea plantations were established, and jails were reformed. Military force was used to suppress human sacrifices in the hills of Orissa.

Schools were taught in the vernacular languages at the lower levels with English used more in the colleges. The Educational Dispatch of 1854 proposed an administrative department of education, universities in the three Presidency cities, institutions for training teachers, increasing government schools and colleges, establishing middle schools, increasing vernacular elementary schools, and providing grants. During 1857 universities were incorporated in Calcutta, Bombay, and Madras. Their faculties were in the arts, law, medicine, engineering, and science. Lahore University was established in 1869.

Mutiny and Revolt 1857-58

The English Company had been ruling more and more of India for a century since Clive's conquest of Calcutta in 1757. The British may have had economic success, but the people of India were suffering from ruined industries, oppressive land tax, and lack of education for most of the people. The law courts were not impartial; police were more feared than respected; and prisons were wretched. The large Indian population had become passive and had little influence on administration. English officials were not very accessible to people, who could not present their grievances as they had before. British administration was less personal, slower, delayed, and frequently changing. Most Indians did not understand English law, and Muslims particularly disliked the use of English instead of Persian in the courts. Worst of all, Indians were systematically excluded from higher offices in government and the military. Even well educated Indians could not sit on legislative councils or be given covenanted service.

Economically British commerce exploited the Indians. High tariffs were erected in Britain against Indian goods, while importation of English products into India was encouraged. The importation of British cotton goods ruined millions of Indians involved in manufacturing and trade. India was used as a cheap source of materials. Raw cotton exports went from 9 million pounds in 1813 to 32 million in 1833 and 88 million in 1844. Wool increased from 3,700 pounds in 1833 to 2,700,000 pounds in 1844. Linseed increased more than a hundredfold in the same period. The importation of British muslins into India went from 6 million yards in 1824 to 64 million in 1837. Millions of Indian artisans, spinners, weavers, potters, tanners, smelters, smiths had to find work in agriculture because of the industrial revolution and manufacturing capitalism in England. In 1852 the Inam Commission was set up to require titles from land-owners, and in the next five years more than 20,000 estates were confiscated in the Deccan, just as many Talukdars lost their property after Awadh was annexed.

The Charter Act of 1813 had unleashed proselytizing Christian missionaries, and gradually Indians came to fear that the British wanted to convert all of India to Christianity. Sayyid Ahmad Khan complained that the famine of 1837 had been used to make orphans Christians, and some believed the Government was reducing people to poverty so that they would adopt Christianity. In 1839 Christian missionaries petitioned the Company's government to stop supporting Hindu temples and caste regulations. The Religious Disabilities Act of 1850 made conversion easier by protecting converts from forfeiting their property or civil rights. Conservative Hindus also resented the Widows Remarriage Act of 1856 that removed legal obstacles to marrying again.

Many rebellions had broken out in various places since the end of the Maratha wars in 1818. Bhils revolted in 1819, 1825, 1831, and 1846. Rumors about the Burma War 1824-26 stimulated rebellions in various places. In 1830 and 1831 revolts broke out in Vizagapatam and among the Singphos, Titu Mir, and the Kols. Gumsur rebelled in 1835. Hindu College students began demanding more offices for Indians in 1843, and ten years later Ram-gopal Ghosh called for opening the civil service to Indians. Kolhapur revolted in 1844 as did the Khonds two years later. Moplah insurrections occurred four times between 1849 and 1855. That year the Santals began a revolt that went on for two years. The British had been fighting in the Crimean War, China, and against Persia over their taking of Herat in Afghanistan again, though by April 1857 the British envoys made peace with the Persians in Paris.

The Company's army had English officers with natives called sepoys (from sipahi for soldier) as most of the rank and file. The Indians in the army outnumbered the British by more than five to one; but all the top officers were British, and most of the expenditures were for them. Sepoys complained of low salaries and little chance for promotion. Hindus objected that going outside of India violated their caste rules, and Muslims did not want to fight those of their religion in Afghanistan and other places. The Madras governor promised the Bengal army a special allowance for going to Sind; but this was not fulfilled because it was against Bengal regulations. In 1856 the new Governor-General C. J. Canning implemented the General Service Enlistment Act requiring all new recruits to serve abroad; he did not think it would cause bad feelings. In Awadh more than 60,000 troops had been recently dismissed with small gratuities, and ill Commissioner James Outram was replaced by the insensitive Coverley Jackson, who ignored complaints, delayed paying grants and pensions, treated Talukdars harshly, approved heavy assessments on cultivators, and lived in the ex-king's palace. Henry Lawrence replaced Jackson in January 1857.

That month Brahmin sepoys at Dumdum became concerned that the new Enfield rifles required them to bite open cartridges that were smeared with grease from the fat of hogs and cattle. Muslims are forbidden to eat pork, and Hindus do not eat beef. The rumor spread to Barrackpur, where they complained to General Hearsey. He let them use their own grease, and the Government approved. However, the Adjutant-General wired back that such concessions would increase the suspicion; he said that the sepoys had been using cartridges greased with mutton fat for years. The sepoys suspected that cow and pig fat were being used in order to convert them to Christianity, and they began to set fire to officers' bungalows at Barrackpur. On February 26 the 19th Native Infantry refused to accept percussion caps. The Governor-General ordered the 19th NI disbanded. On March 29 Mangal Pandey of the 34th NI shot at two officers, tried to shoot himself, and was put in the hospital. Other sepoys said that he had taken too much bhang (cannabis). He and another were tried and executed, and later many called the mutineers Pandeys. The 34th was disbanded, but discontent and acts of arson spread.

On May 2 the 7th Awadh regiment refused to bite the greased cartridges. Commissioner Henry Lawrence learned of threats to kill officers, and he persuaded the mutineers to lay down their arms. Rumors also spread that bone dust from cows was being put in flour and wells. At Mirat forty miles north of Delhi, 85 troopers from the Third Cavalry had refused to touch the cartridges on April 24. They were tried by a court martial and sentenced to ten years. On parade before other unarmed sepoys they were stripped of their uniforms and shackled as armed British soldiers watched. On the Sunday night of May 10 while the British were in church, sepoys from the Third Cavalry released their comrades from jail. The 20th and 11th infantry regiments seized their muskets and killed Col. Finnis. After that, the sepoys and freed convicts killed Europeans, plundering and burning their houses. The sepoys decided to go to Delhi, but the British commander did not pursue them. The Sepoys from Mirat reached Delhi at dawn, entered the Red Fort, and proclaimed elderly Bahadur Shah II emperor. Delhi had only three regiments of sepoys; they joined the mutiny, killed officers, and plundered Europeans, who fled. A few British officers led by Lt. George Willoughby managed to explode much of the ammunition magazine. The uprisings spread down the Ganges to Bihar and south to Gwalior, Jhansi, and Bundelkhand. The Madras and Bombay presidencies were fairly free of revolt, which was concentrated in Delhi, Awadh, and Rohilkhand.

Bahadur Shah II at Delhi played both sides by protecting British fugitives and communicating secretly with the British at Agra; he offered to help the British troops enter the fort if they would recognize his position. Bahadur became a virtual prisoner of the plundering sepoys who made him help them. The revolt was chaotic as the cavalry and others demanded more pay. When the sepoys found that the Emperor's advisor Ahsan Ulla had 52 European prisoners, they killed them with swords. Bahadur Shah was deposed after a week on May 17, when prince Abu Bakr was elected. Bahadur still claimed to be king, but sepoys refused to serve under his commander-in-chief, Bakht Khan. A main motivation for the revolt was religious, and proclamations were made to kill all the infidels. Hindus and Muslims tried to stay united but sometimes turned against each other. Gradually the anti-English fervor faded, and magistrate Sayyid Ahmad was able to hold Bijnor for the British without any military forces.

Lakhnau (Lucknow) learned of Mirat and Delhi on May 14. Henry Lawrence was able to suppress an uprising on May 31, but the mutiny spread throughout Awadh. The Talukdars quickly acted to regain their lands and secure their forts. The last nawab was in British custody at Calcutta, but his queen Begam Hazrat Mahal and her son Birjis Quadr were chosen as the new rulers. They gave offices to Hindus and Muslims while many local chiefs established independent kingdoms in Awadh and in Rohilkhand. Henry Lawrence fortified his Residency at Lakhnau as a refuge for Europeans. While Lawrence was ill, Financial Commissioner Martin Gubbins disarmed the sepoys and sent them home. Lawrence learned of it and managed to get some 600 sepoys to return. Lawrence tried to command the army, but on June 11 the military police joined the mutiny. Lawrence advised a defensive strategy, but Gubbins urged an attack on the rebel army. Desertions caused Lawrence to order a retreat, which became a rout. The Residency was besieged on June 30. Three days later Lawrence was mortally wounded by a shell, but 1,700 British soldiers, civilians, and the loyal sepoys held out against a rebel army that grew to 100,000. The Residency was relieved in September, but Lakhnau was not re-occupied by the British until March 1858.

Rohilkhand had no British regiments and was taken over by mutineers in Bareilly on May 31. Khan Bahadur Khan was the grandson of Rohilkhand's deposed nawab, and he had tried to warn the British commissioner of the coming mutiny. He quickly joined the mutiny as Bahadur Shah's viceroy and ordered all the English executed. He began organizing revenue collection and appointed Hindus as well as Muslims. However, communal conflict erupted, and Hindu officers were despoiled. Sepoys plundered the rich and looted the shops. Khan Bahadur Khan governed Rohilkhand for nearly a year. He hired the poor, raising an army of 40,000 troops.

In Bengal only troops at Dacca and Chittagong mutinied. Several mutinies broke out briefly in Bihar led by Kunwar Singh, but the Deccan was quiet except at Kolhapur. Mutiny attempts at Ahmadabad in Gujarat and Hyderabad in Sind failed, and the one at Karachi was quickly put down. The mutinies were generally spontaneous and local without coordination. After killing and plundering, many sepoys went home with their loot; some mutineers set out for Delhi as the center of the revolt. Maulavi Ahmadulla of Faizabad had actually called for a holy war against the English infidels in January 1857, but the Muslims in Madras did not really act on this. So Ahmadulla went north. Sambalpur was ripe for rebellion because British annexation had raised their taxes from 8,800 rupees to 74,000. Imprisoned Surendra Sal was freed and led the revolt there that lasted until 1862.

In the Punjab most of the sepoys were disarmed. At Lahore 600 Europeans disarmed 2,500 sepoys on May 13. Some resisted at Firozpur. At Peshawar the 55th regiment fled; of the 120 caught 40 were executed by cannons. John Lawrence was in Rawalpindi and worked to raise loyal troops to retake Delhi. The English officers took control of the forts at Phillaur, Govindgarh, Kangra, Attock, and Multan. Gurkha regiments disobeyed and seized the treasury at Kasauli; but they returned to their barracks when their demands were met. News of the mutiny stimulated raiding by the Ranghar and Gujar tribes. Lt. Col. John Nicholson and Frederick Cooper led forces that tracked down mutineers and executed hundreds of prisoners to deter revolt in the Punjab. Brigadier Hodson recruited 200 Punjabis for each of 74 regiments; half of them were Sikhs. However, only Jat Sikhs were recruited, as the lower castes were excluded; Mazhabis were hired to build roads and dig canals. By the end of August 1757 a total of 34,000 Punjabi troops had been raised. Ahmad Khan led an uprising in Multan in September that lasted two months. George Lawrence managed to keep the Rajputana region under control.

Before the telegraph wires were cut, Governor-General Canning got word of the mutiny on May 14. He summoned European troops from Madras and Bombay, and an expedition about to leave for China was called back. Col. James Neill brought the First Madras Fusiliers to Calcutta and was sent to disarm Benares and Allahabad. Hasty planning at Benares on June 5 resulted in some sepoys picking up their arms and firing on approaching Europeans. Cavalry arrived during the confusion, but by evening all the mutineers not killed had dispersed. News of this slaughter provoked a mutiny at Allahabad two days later. They waited until evening and then murdered six officers and eight teenage cadets. The British still held the fort at Allahabad, and on June 11 Neill arrived to put down the insurgency with indiscriminate killing, plundering of houses, and burning of villages.

Brigadier Archdale Wilson led troops from Mirat that managed to take the Ridge overlooking Delhi but did not have enough men to attack the city. Believing the prophecy that the British would only rule India for a century, on the centenary of the battle of Plassey (June 23) the sepoys attacked the British on the Ridge but could not overcome them. More troops arrived from the Punjab, and more than twenty battles were fought. Nicholson arrived in August, and the siege train enabled them to storm and take the Red Fort on September 20. Bahadur Shah surrendered on the condition that his life would be spared; but Hodson shot three princes himself because he feared the mob would rescue them. A few days later 21 more princes were hanged. The plundering of Delhi by the British, Sikhs, Pathans, and Gurkhas was compared to the sacking by Persian conqueror Nadir Shah in 1739. Bahadur Shah was convicted of murdering Europeans and was sentenced to life imprisonment; he was transported to Rangoon and died in 1862 at the age of 87.

The mutiny of the sepoys was gradually transformed into a rebellion led by chiefs. Nana Sahib claimed to be the Peshwa's heir at Kanpur (Cawnpore) on June 26. Mutineers surrounded the garrison of about four hundred British soldiers, who surrendered when they were offered safe conduct to Allahabad. However, their boats were fired on, and only four men escaped. Also 211 women and children were eventually put to death by the sepoys under Nana Sahib and Tantia Topi, a Maratha Brahmin who led 20,000 mutineers from Gwalior. Henry Havelock led a force that defeated Nana's troops on July 16. After Neill occupied Kanpur, Havelock went on to relieve Lakhnau but swung back to attack and defeat Tantia Topi on August 16. Tantia survived and gathered more sepoys at Gwalior to seize Kalpi. In Bihar mutinous sepoys from Dinapur followed Kunwar Singh, the Talukdar of Jagdishpur. Nepal's Jang Bahadur sent a Gurkha army that defeated rebels in Azamgarh and Jaunpur in July. That month the Nizam's chief minister Salar Jang used artillery to defeat a fanatical Muslim mob that was attacking the Residency at Hyderabad.

Nana's nephew Rao Sahib persuaded Tantia to take Kanpur back from the British troops left there under Windham. He did so in November while British commander-in-chief Colin Campbell was evacuating civilians from Lakhnau. Campbell then won Kanpur back on December 6. Campbell spent the next month hunting down rebels in the Ganges-Jumna Doab and recapturing Fatehgarh. He appointed a commissioner, who was known as "Hanging" Power because of his death sentences for dozens of prisoners.

General Campbell assembled a large army of 30,000, including Sikhs, Punjabis, and 9,000 Gurkhas led by Jang Bahadur himself, for the retaking of Lakhnau. This was accomplished on March 21, 1858; but while they looted and destroyed Lakhnau, about 60,000 armed rebels scattered throughout Awadh. Governor-General Canning proclaimed that all proprietary rights in Awadh would be confiscated except for six he named and others who could prove their loyalty. As James Outram predicted, this had the effect of causing the Talukdars to fight a guerrilla campaign instead of helping to restore order. Outram mitigated its effect somewhat by circulating a letter that cases of land confiscated after annexation would be reheard. Ellenborough, President of the Board of Control, was so outraged by the proclamation that he wrote a scathing letter to Governor-General Canning in which he reminded him that influential landowners had been deprived of their property and that the hostilities in Awadh had "rather the character of legitimate war than that of rebellion."3

The widowed Rani Lakshmi Bai of Jhansi had had her kingdom annexed by Dalhousie. When the sepoys mutinied in Jhansi, they slaughtered dozens of Europeans; they threatened the Rani, took her money, and departed for Delhi, leaving her in charge of the administration. She wrote two letters to the commissioner of Saugor, who asked her to govern Jhansi on behalf of the British. She fought against an invasion by the chiefs of Orchha and Datia by forming an alliance with the rebel raja of Banpur. She sent more letters to the British that were not answered. Jhansi was attacked by Hugh Rose's army of about 6,000 on March 30 when Tantia Topi arrived with 20,000 men. Rose managed to attack them, causing Tantia to flee. Then his British forces stormed the fort at Jhansi on April 4 and slaughtered about 5,000 people. The Rani escaped dressed as a man. She and Rao Sahib were joined by Tantia Topi near Gwalior and won over Sindhia's army to take that fort, proclaiming Nana Sahib peshwa. However, Rose defeated these rebels at Gwalior. Rani Lakshmi Bai was one of the few rebel chiefs to be killed in battle, and Rose called her the bravest of the rebels. Tantia was eventually captured, tried, and hanged in April 1859. Rao Sahib was not arrested and hanged until 1862.

Campbell's army defeated Khan Bahadur Khan's army of 40,000 near Bareilly on May 5, 1858, ending the rebellion in Rohilkhand. Maulavi Ahmadulla, Begam Hazrat Mahal, and other rebel leaders continued to fight. After Ahmadulla proclaimed himself king and threatened Shahjahanpur, the Governor-General offered a reward of 50,000 rupees for his arrest. The Maulavi was shot dead at Powain on June 5, and the raja cut off his head and took it to the Shahjahanpur magistrate, who paid him the reward. That month Canning passed an Act to control the Calcutta press that equally applied to English as well as Indian publications. The Arms Act of September required licenses for firearms, swords, and other weapons. His Clemency Resolution was designed to stop the indiscriminate hanging of sepoys for merely being part of a mutinous regiment, but the vindictive derisively called him "Clemency Canning."

Ben Madho was defeated, but he left a fort with 15,000 men and continually managed to escape. Colin Campbell had to destroy 1,572 forts in order win back the province of Awadh. He organized 5,000 police to help civil authorities after his army departed. On November first a full pardon was promised to all rebels who had not murdered British subjects and would return to their homes by the end of December. Most of the remaining rebels were driven toward the border region of Nepal by the end of 1858. Jang Bahadur announced that Nepal would not give refuge to rebels, and more than 2,000 were turned over to the British. Nana Sahib took refuge in the jungles of Nepal and probably died there. Many in England and India wanted more vengeance, but the Governor-General wisely limited the prosecutions. Later Viceroy Curzon commended Canning's clemency because the government that punishes revengefully loses the respect of its subjects.

The India Bill of August 1858 ended the century of rule by the East India Company, replacing the Court of Directors and Board of Control by putting the British government in charge using a secretary of state and a council of fifteen with a majority having ten years experience in India. On November 1, 1858 Queen Victoria proclaimed that Canning would be the first viceroy and that they would respect the rights of native princes and ancestral land-owners; they would not discriminate on the bases of religious faith or observances; all were to have equal and impartial protection of the law; those in authority must abstain from interfering with religious belief or worship; all Indian subjects regardless of race or creed, should be admitted to offices according to the qualifications of education, ability, and integrity. The Queen's proclamation was called the Magna Carta of the Indian people.

The causes of why the mutiny and revolt erupted have been discussed; but why did the revolt fail when the Europeans in India were so greatly outnumbered? The British had already established their control by government over most of India and thus had their power structures in place. Their technology was superior, and especially the new breech-loading Enfield rifles that the sepoys were rejecting gave the British using them a tremendous advantage over the old muzzle-loaded muskets. The new telegraph lines helped the British react quickly to the emergency, and many mutinies were headed off by disarming the sepoys. Although there were serious grievances and legitimate reasons for Indian independence, a revolutionary movement with intellectual education had not yet developed. The first mutiny and most of those that followed freed convicted criminals and were lawless riots involving mass murders, robbery, looting, and chaotic destruction. Although some ancestral kings were selected as rulers, the rebellion suffered from pervading disorder with little or no coordination between rebel groups in different localities. In addition to the lack of political leadership, the military strategies were also inept. Most of the rebels gathered at Delhi and Lakhnau, where little of strategic importance was accomplished. Because of the lawless behavior and lack of principles, the civil population was not inclined to support the rebels. Thus many Indians remained loyal to the British government, especially in areas where it remained in force. Essentially, unrestrained violence and the lack of ethics doomed the revolt. In the next century the inspired campaigns led by Mahatma Gandhi would show that the cleanest revolutions can be best accomplished without violence.

Reconstruction of British India 1858-76

Under the British Crown many policies were reformed in response to the horrendous mutiny and revolt. Military expenditures to suppress the revolt had cost the Government about £40,000,000. Viceroy Canning imposed an income tax in 1860 for five years to alleviate the £2,000,000 annual deficit. Madras governor Charles Trevelyan objected so strenuously to the income tax that Board of Control President Charles Wood had him removed. Land revenue provided half the income; the second largest revenue came from the Government's monopoly on the opium trade to China, and third was its monopoly on salt. A commission recommended that the ratio of Indian to British troops be two to one for the large Bengal army and three to one for Madras and Bombay. Except in mountain batteries, the artillery was handled only by Europeans. The Police Act of 1861 enabled the civil power to take over duties previously handled by the military, and many of the 100,000 dismissed from the army became police. By 1863 India had 62,000 British troops and 135,000 Indians in the army. The Bengal army especially was restructured with mixed regiments consisting of separate companies of Sikhs, Punjabi Muslims, and Hindu Dogras. Indian officers could command companies. A "white mutiny" occurred at Mirat because they were being transferred without being discharged, which prevented them from getting a bounty for enlisting again. Authorities ended up shipping 10,000 men home at more cost than the small bounties.

Canning held durbars to reward the princes who had remained loyal during the revolt. More than 500 principalities were recognized under British dominion. The annexations stopped, but the British could still regulate succession, dictate the minister to be chosen, and depose a bad ruler. In Awadh most of the Talukdars regained their land rights. In Madras possession for fifty years was considered valid ownership, and in Bombay inamdars could retain their estates by paying one-fourth of the land revenue. When a famine afflicted the northwest in 1860, new roads and relief efforts helped the thirteen million people affected. Because of this plight the permanent settlement of the land revenue originally implemented by Cornwallis in Bengal was proposed. By 1862 this policy was accepted in principle for all of India; but in 1868 Revenue Board member William Muir noted that rising agricultural prices made the land more valuable, and the policy was changed.

The end of the East India Company opened up India to capitalist enterprises, and Englishmen came to seek their fortunes. After the mutiny the British were more suspicious, and many of the new settlers were much more racist in their attitudes and behavior toward Indians. Because most of the revolt had been carried on by Muslims, they were especially hated by the British for some time. The Indians had learned the futility of armed resistance against imperial Britain, but the fanatical Wahhabis in the northwest mountains continued their religious struggle. Cultivators of indigo in Bengal rebelled. After the extreme religious reactions in the mutiny, most of the British realized that Indians were unlikely to adopt Christianity on a large scale. Yet evangelicals like Herbert Edwardes in the Punjab still continued their efforts. Charles Wood rejected his proposal to include Bible study in schools, and grants to missionary schools were cut back.

Queen Victoria's promise of equal treatment for Indians was rarely practiced. The English often remained aloof from the natives as if a caste barrier had been erected. Under the judicial system the English were lightly punished even for murder while the Indians were often severely punished for minor offenses or even for discourtesy. The Indian Councils Act of 1861 allowed non-officials and Indians into the Legislative Council. They could also serve as judges on the High Courts. Although some believed that the traditional justice by a benevolent despot was more effective, the educated Indians came to prefer the British judicial system. The Governor-General's Council was reformed by putting the members in charge of the departments of home, revenue, military, finance, and law. The Governor-General could no longer enact legislation without the approval of the Executive Council except for an emergency ordinance that lasted only six months. Macaulay's Penal Code was revised and became law in 1860. The next year the old Supreme Court and the Sadar Diwani Adalat were replaced by High Courts in Calcutta, Bombay, and Madras. In 1866 Allahabad got a High Court and Lahore a Chief Court.

The Earl of Elgin (James Bruce) became viceroy in March 1862, but he died in November 1863. During that interval Dost Muhammad seized Herat, and Elgin protested this by recalling his native agent from Kabul. Elgin sent British forces requested by the Punjab government to stop the Wahhabi raids, and they destroyed the mountain fortress at Malka north of Peshawar.

John Lawrence was rewarded for his success in helping to quell the revolt and became viceroy in January 1864, serving in that capacity for five years. He continued to discourage female infanticide while promoting female education. His government also financed public works in transportation, sanitation, and irrigation; by the end of his term new irrigation works had been surveyed in every major province. In the first quarter century after the mutiny 9,000 miles of railroads were added, and irrigation was extended to eight million acres. Loans were used for this public investment, and in the last three years of Lawrence's term nearly £6,000,000 were added to the debt. A drought in 1865 caused a famine in Orissa; lack of planning and poor roads prevented rice from getting there in time, and nearly a million people starved to death. In 1868 Lawrence threatened to punish authorities in the northwest provinces, the Punjab, and Rajputana for every person who died, and this famine was averted. Lawrence usually favored the peasant cultivators; but Awadh commissioner Charles Wingfield supported the Talukdar landowners. R. H. Davies was appointed to make an inquiry, and eventually a compromise was reached that safeguarded the rights of the cultivators. In 1866 Wingfield went home, and Lawrence replaced him with John Strachey. The Punjab and Awadh Tenancy Acts of 1868 assured the rights of tenant peasants, restored stability, and increased agricultural production.

Lawrence usually followed a foreign policy of non-interference, but he deposed the nawab of Tonk for murder and replaced the maharaja of Todhpur with a regency council. In 1867 the new secretary of state, Lord Cranborne, announced that when the Mysore maharaja died, the adopted child would be accepted when he came of age. After some Bhutanese raids into British territory, Ashley Eden was sent as an envoy in 1863; but he was insulted and forced to sign a treaty giving Bhutan disputed territory. After Eden escaped, Lawrence disavowed the treaty. Because the Bhutanese refused to release English captives, a British force invaded in 1865. In the November treaty Bhutan ceded the Duars of Bengal and Assam and other territory, returning the British prisoners; Lawrence promised to pay them 25,000 rupees each year if they kept the peace. The government of India made commercial treaties with Burma in 1862 and 1867. After Dost Muhammad died in 1863, Afghanistan suffered a war of succession. Lawrence refused to aid Sher Ali or others in 1866, following his policy that was called "masterly inactivity." Sher Ali recovered Kabul and Qandahar in 1868. Russians had moved into Tashkent in 1865 and Samarkand in 1868. Just before he left office in January 1869, Viceroy Lawrence recommended giving arms and support without a defensive alliance to the ruler of Kabul.

Viceroy Mayo (Richard Bourke) met with Sher Ali at Ambala in March 1869. That year the Russians occupied Bukhara. Mayo tackled the debt problem by cutting spending on the military, public works, and education grants. He created surpluses by increasing the income tax from one to two percent and then to three percent; the salt tax was also raised. The poor were especially oppressed, and in his third year he reduced the income tax back to one percent and exempted the half of tax-payers with lower incomes. Transportation between England and India was made faster by the opening of the Suez Canal, and more European wives and families began to live in India. By 1870 telegraph lines connected London with India, and home authorities could now issue orders based on current information. Mayo also decentralized India by allowing the provincial governments to decide on their own expenditures and taxes. He founded a college at Rajkot in Kathiawar and the Mayo College at Ajmere in Rajputana to educate Indians. Hardly any Indians had qualified for the civil service because the qualifying examinations were only given in London to horse-riding males no older than 22. Mayo appointed George Campbell as lieutenant-governor of Bengal, and his improvements doubled the number of children in village schools.

In September 1871 several Wahhabi jihadists were convicted of treason by the High Court at Calcutta and were sentenced to life imprisonment in the Andaman islands. On September 20 Chief Justice J. P. Norman was stabbed to death by a Wahhabi on the steps of the courthouse. On February 8, 1872 Mayo was visiting the Andamans and was assassinated by a Pathan convict, who knifed him in the back.

A Sikh sect, called Kukas for the sounds they made in worship, had been founded by Balak Singh in 1847. When he died in 1863, his disciple Ram Singh became the Kuka leader. Some Kukas were punished for destroying hukas and tombs they considered idolatrous. In July 1871 Kukas at Amritsar murdered Muslim butchers for slaughtering cattle, and in January 1872 two hundred Kukas attacked the towns of Malodh and Malerkotla. They fled from the Nawab's police, and British troops hunted them down. Ludhiana's deputy commissioner L. Cowan rounded them up and executed fifty of them without a trial. Ambala commissioner Douglas Forsyth accepted this illegality, tried a few more, and legally had them executed. Although he disavowed these attacks and kept the police informed, Ram Singh was held responsible and spent the rest of his life in prison at Rangoon.

The first India census taken in 1872 recorded 206,160,000 people. Viceroy Northbrook (Thomas George Baring) arrived in May 1872. He was a liberal and began reducing taxes and stopping unnecessary legislation. He cut back military spending and rejected expensive irrigation projects. He intervened in Barodha because Gaikwar Malhar Rao was accused of poisoning his brother and attempting to poison Resident Phayre. Rao was found guilty and replaced by a young prince. In 1873 many evictions for debt in the Deccan caused agrarian riots and dacoity (robbery). Some moneylenders were killed, and their houses with the records were set on fire. The disorders were suppressed, and Northbrook ordered an inquiry. In 1874, wanting to avoid another famine like the one in Orissa, he ordered more than 450,000 tons of rice shipped to Bihar and northern Bengal. This prevented the famine, but over 100,000 pounds of extra rice had to be sold at a loss. The Act of 1874 added a sixth member for Public Works to the Viceroy's council.

In 1873 the Russian foreign office announced that their sphere would not extend into Afghanistan, but that year they moved up to the boundary at the Oxus River. Viceroy Northbrook in a conference at Simla promised Afghanistan support in order to deter an invasion. However, the government of India's arbitration of a dispute over Seistan between Persia and Afghanistan angered Amir Sher Ali. Northbrook offered him 500,000 rupees and 20,000 rifles; Sher Ali accepted the rifles but not the money. Northbrook complained when Sher Ali arrested his son Yakub Khan after luring him to Kabul by promising him safe conduct. In the election of 1874 Gladstone's Liberal Party was defeated by Disraeli's Tories. Palmerston and Secretary of State Salisbury (Cranborne) advocated a forward policy, but Northbrook and his council opposed imposing an unwanted British agent in Herat. In September 1875 Northbrook indicated he would resign, and he left India the following April.

Keshab Chandra Sen was not from the Brahmin caste, and he joined Brahmo Samaj in 1857. Young men enthusiastically joined him in discussing spiritual and social issues, and in 1859 they formed the Sangat Sabha. During the rebellion of indigo workers the Brahmos and the Christians supported the workers' demands for legal protections from the planters. The drama Nila-darpana by Dinabandhu Mitra portrayed the oppression of the indigo planters, and the play created such a sensation that the missionary James Long was imprisoned for publishing its English translation. In 1861 Keshab founded and began editing the bi-weekly Indian Mirror, and it eventually became the first Indian daily newspaper in English. The next year they started a high school called the Calcutta College and tried to revive women's education. The Calcutta Female Juvenile Society had been founded in 1819 to work for female education, and in 1849 J. E. D. Bethune had patronized higher education for women in Calcutta.

The Brahmos raised money to relieve famine in the northwest and a Bengali epidemic. Keshab Chandra Sen traveled to Madras and Bombay, spreading the Brahmo Samaj throughout India. They performed intercaste marriages and a widow remarriage, and the emancipation of women became their motto. Such radical reforms annoyed Devendranath Tagore, who believed in gradualism on social issues. He founded the National Paper in 1865. That year Keshab and thirty liberal Brahmos petitioned for the election of all officers. A split occurred in 1866 when Devendranath would not agree to exclude those who would not give up their caste privileges. Devendranath said that his Adi Brahmo Samaj was Hindu, while Keshab and his followers described their Brahmo Samaj of India as universal and catholic. K. C. Sen aimed to harmonize all religions and used various scriptures.

In 1867 Sasipada Bannerji invited Mary Carpenter to visit the Brahmo Samaj in Baranagar, and she urged workers to give up drinking and save money; within four years Bannerji had established the Workingman's Savings Bank. Like Bannerji, Dwarkanath Ganguli was a Kulin Brahmin, and he founded a journal to help women. In 1869 Sen's Brahmo mandir (temple) was opened to all classes of men and women who wanted salvation. In 1870 six young men renounced their high caste by placing their sacred threads on the pulpit in the Brahmo mandir. Sen met Max Müller in England. Sen's Indian Reform Association focused on charity, female education, technical and general education, temperance, and inexpensive literature. They published the Sulabh Samachar journal in Bengali to educate the masses. In 1871 they opened a normal school for girls and the Victoria Institution for Women, teaching in Bengali and English. One of their proudest achievements was getting the Native Marriage Act passed in 1872 that restricted marriage to monogamy and set the minimum age for a bride at 14 and a bridegroom at 18. India now had 101 Brahmo Samajes; most were in Bengal, and most favored Keshab. By 1874 the Brahmo progressives believed that Sen had become too conservative, especially on women's rights. Keshab Chandra Sen met the mystical Ramakrishna in 1875.

Sayyid (Syed) Ahmad Khan was born at Delhi on October 17, 1817 and learned Arabic, Persian, Urdu, mathematics, and logic. After his father died in 1838, Sayyid began working for the British. He wrote a summary of the rules in the civil courts and became known for his archaeological history of Delhi. In 1850 he published a defense of the martyr Sayyid Ahmad of Bareilly and his followers. During the 1857 mutiny he persuaded Bijnor nawab Mahmud Khan to protect British interests. The English officers pitted the Hindus against the Muslims, and the conflict caused the fall of the Nawab, who fled. Then Sayyid helped the landlords administer the district for the British. Later he wrote an account of the revolt at Bijnor. Sayyid believed that the original cause of the rebellion was that Indians were not admitted to the Legislative Council and thus could not correct its errors. He then explained five causes of the revolt. First, the Indians misapprehended the intentions of the British. Second, laws and regulations were not appropriate for India and caused objections. Third, the British were ignorant of the grievances and needs of their subjects. Fourth, the rulers had contempt for Indians and a policy of racial discrimination. Fifth, the army was mismanaged.

In 1862 Sayyid Ahmad Khan became the first Muslim to write a commentary on the Old and New Testaments. Sayyid was concerned that Indian Muslims were too conservative and thus were ignorant of modern philosophy, sciences, and arts. He urged the study of English and worked to get English books translated into Urdu. For this purpose he founded the Scientific Society and an English school at Ghazipur in 1864. Two years later he started the weekly Aligarh Institute Gazette to explain English administration. Sayyid noted that the High Court had admitted 239 Hindu pleaders but only one Muslim. The High Court had 27 Hindu attorneys but not one Muslim. Only one Muslim was a licentiate in medicine from Calcutta University compared to 98 Hindus.

In 1869 Sayyid went to England with his two sons, and he was given an audience with Queen Victoria. He wrote a friend that he valued the egalitarian distribution of national resources, social radicalism, and republican government. He visited the universities at Cambridge and Oxford as well as preparatory schools such as Eaton and Harrow. He published a series of essays in response to William Muir's Life of Mohammed. Upon returning to India, Sayyid started Tahzeeb-ul-Akhlaq to educate for social reform. He said that illiteracy is the mother of poverty, and he was confident that Islam was not endangered by the study of western literature and science. In 1870 at Benares he formed a committee to advance learning and raise funds for a Muslim college, which was founded in June 1875 and soon had sixty students. His educational campaign became known as the Aligarh movement.

Dadabhai Naoroji was born in Bombay in 1825 as the son of a Zoroastrian priest. At the age of thirty he went to London on business, and for the next fifty years he submitted papers and agitated on behalf of India. He used the study of economics and statistics to show how the British had been draining the wealth out of India. Every year the foreign rulers collected about £50,000,000 in revenue and carried away some £12,000,000 to England. Under the colonial mercantile system between 1835 and 1872 India exported about £500,000,000 worth of goods more than it imported from England.

Nationalist sentiment grew gradually. In 1867 National Paper editor Naba-gopal Mitra started the Hindu Mela, and they founded the National Society. W. C. Bonnerjee spoke in England in 1867, calling for a "representative and responsible government of India." Ananda-mohan Bose spoke at Brighton in 1873 for establishing such a government by gradual stages, and the next year the Hindu Patriot favored home rule for India with a constitutional government. In Bengal the Indian League was formed in 1875.

Famine and a Second Afghan War 1876-81

Disraeli, a novelist himself, selected as the next viceroy Edward Robert Bulwer Lytton, son of the famous novelist and a poet using the name Owen Meredith, but he lacked administrative experience. A monsoon failure began a terrible famine in 1876 that was especially devastating in Madras and Mysore but also affected Hyderabad, Bombay, and the United Provinces. The rains failed again in 1877. About 36 million people were affected, and an estimated five and a half million died of disease and starvation. Mysore tried local relief efforts, and its Government bought up large quantities of grain. Viceroy Lytton complained that they needed high prices to stimulate imports and limit consumption, but high prices caused the poor to starve. They reacted by fixing wages for relief work so high that many who did not need the jobs as badly went there. Richard Temple and the finance minister John Strachey believed that mitigating the suffering had to be tempered by economic considerations, and Temple was appointed Famine Commissioner in January 1877. He found that in Madras many were getting relief who did not need it. The imperial Government sent General Kennedy to Madras to organize relief works on a much larger scale, and he reduced the number of those receiving gratuitous relief. Between January and September 1877 Temple increased those employed in relief work from under a half million to over two million. Rains came in the fall, and relief operations were phased out in 1878.

The Government of India lost £2.5 million of land revenue and spent £11 million on famine relief compared to the £6.5 million spent in Bihar where very few had died. However, proportionately this was less, and the economizing caused the loss of many lives. General Strachey headed the Famine Commission, which recommended in 1880 that they add 5,000 miles of railways and more irrigation works, especially in precarious areas. They described six basic principles for famine relief.

1. Employment must be provided for those in need without putting others out of work.
2. The state should distribute raw grain or money in villages rather than feed people in poorhouses and temporary camps except in extreme cases.
3. Government should allow private commerce to supply and distribute food whenever possible.
4. Loans should be made for purchasing seed grain and bullocks and to landlords while suspending rents.
5. Local administrators should have responsibility for expenditures unless extra assistance is needed, especially for water storage.
6. Migration of cattle from drought areas to grassy forests may be facilitated.

These recommendations were generally accepted. Strachey proposed setting aside £1.5 million annually for famine relief, and this insurance fund reduced the borrowing for public works. A new Famine Code was promulgated in 1883.

During the worst part of the famine in 1877 the Parliament obliviously removed the five-percent import duty on manufactured cotton goods which Northbrook and the Council had opposed doing. The Government of India was thus short of money while it was also spending much on the war in Afghanistan. The Indian Whipping Act had been passed in 1864, and the number of judicial floggings reached a high of 75,223 in 1878. Wasudeo Balwant Phadke blamed the misery in India on the foreign rulers, and after the famine he tried to organize an armed rebellion in Bombay. He and about 45 men robbed the village shops of Dhamari in February 1879. He used the money from this and other robberies to hire five hundred Rohillas, giving him nine hundred armed men. However, Phadke was captured in July and was transported for life for waging war against the Queen. Also in 1879 Lytton forced through the removal of duties on coarser cotton goods. Varied salt duties had required a customs line of almost 2,000 miles of thorny hedges and walls guarded by an army of 8,000 men. Lytton made salt a Government monopoly with uniform duties. The tax on salt was less than three farthings per pound, but it gave the Government an annual revenue of more than £7 million. The Viceroy made it even harder for Indians to pass civil service exams in England by reducing the maximum age to 19 in 1877. Two years later he opened one-sixth of the covenanted service positions to Indians, but they had to be approved by the Governor-General-in-Council. The conservative Lytton also enacted the Vernacular Press Act against sedition in native-language newspapers with the argument that they were more susceptible than English readers, but his liberal successor got this repealed.

Major Robert Sandeman, who had skillfully settled disputes on the border of Dera Ghazi Khan's district in the Punjab with the Bugti and Mufti tribes, was sent to calm the quarrels between Khudadad Khan of Kalat and his local chiefs. In July 1876 they were reconciled. Viceroy Lytton sent Col. George Pomeroy Colley with a force to make a secret treaty with Khudadad at Jacobabad in December. The Khan received an increased subsidy and agreed to let the British build a railroad and telegraph lines through his territory so that they could occupy Quetta, where Sandeman became the British agent for Baluchistan. The Act of 1876 made Queen Victoria sovereign over the Indian states as of the beginning of 1877. Lytton wanted to send Lewis Pelly to Kabul to announce his becoming viceroy and Victoria's inauguration as Empress of India, but Afghanistan's Amir Sher Ali refused to receive a British envoy. Instead he suggested that the native agent Atta Muhammad go from Kabul to Simla, and the British promised him money and arms against unprovoked aggression and recognition of Sher Ali's son Abdulla Jan as his heir. Lytton also implied threats that Afghanistan could be smashed between Russia and England or be wiped out by both of them.

Amir Sher Ali sent his minister Nur Muhammad Shah to meet with the British envoy Lewis Pelly at Peshawar in January 1877. Negotiations broke down upon the Amir's refusal to accept a British agent in Afghanistan, and a few days later Nur Muhammad died of illness. After the British put a garrison in Quetta, Sher Ali sent troops to Qandahar. While the Russo-Turkish War raged, Lytton recognized the Maharaja of Kashmir's authority over the chiefs of Chitral and Yasin, whom Sher Ali wanted to control.

In June 1878 Konstantin Petrovich Kaufmann, the Russian governor-general of Turkestan, sent General Stolietoff from Tashkent to Kabul with troops and a draft treaty offering Russian support to Amir Sher Ali against external aggression and recognition of his son Abdulla Jan as his heir. Because the Russians might turn to his nephew Abdur Rahman, Sher Ali reluctantly received the Russian in July. However, news of Russian and English agreement on the Berlin Treaty caused Stolietoff to withdraw quickly. Abdulla Jan died on August 17, the day Sher Ali received a message from Indian emissary Gholam Hussain that a British mission was coming. A month later he sent back a message threatening resistance unless "conciliatory letters" were sent.

Neville Bowles Chamberlain led the British contingent and left Peshawar on September 21, but they were turned back at the Khyber Pass. British public opinion was outraged, but John Lawrence wrote a letter to the London Times asking, "Have not the Afghans a right to resist our forcing a mission on them, bearing in mind to what such missions often lead, and what Burma's mission in 1837 did actually bring upon them?"4 Despite Gladstone's warnings, both houses of Parliament approved the war and put the cost on India. Lytton sent Sher Ali an ultimatum, demanding an apology and acceptance of a British mission in Afghanistan by November 20. Sher Ali fled to Russian Turkestan in December and died in February. General Frederick Roberts led a British army through the Kurram Pass to Kabul, and General Donald Stewart occupied Qandahar. Already the Punjabis complained they had lost 80,000 animals to starvation.

Before he left Kabul, Sher Ali had released his oldest son Yakub Khan from prison. Yakub negotiated with Major Louis Cavagnari and signed the Treaty of Gandamak on May 26, 1879. Yakub Khan was recognized as Amir, accepted a permanent British representative in Kabul, and ceded to the British the Khyber Pass, Kurram Valley, and Pishin and Sibi by Baluchistan. The British agreed to pay him 6 lakhs of rupees annually, remove their troops from Afghanistan, and defend him from foreign aggression. Cavagnari was knighted for his diplomatic success and became the first British Resident at Kabul in July. However, as Lawrence and others had predicted, he and his staff of two hundred were murdered on September 3 by mutinous troops from Herat.

General Stewart was still in Qandahar, and he sent General Roberts with 6,000 men to avenge the massacre. They defeated a small Afghan force at Charasiab and entered Kabul in October. Yakub Khan abdicated and was sent to India, where Lytton refused to consider restoring him because he blamed him for Cavagnari's death. Roberts had 87 people hanged for suspected complicity in the massacre or for resisting the British; those not cooperating with British foragers had their villages burned. Muhammad Jan gathered more than 20,000 Afghan warriors north of Kabul by December; but the British beat back their attacks, and by Christmas they had dispersed. In March 1880 the war, which had been estimated to cost £6 million so far, had already spent £11 million. Because the British would not withdraw from an Afghanistan in chaos, the operations were expected to cost another £7 million by the end of the year.

A British force from Bombay was sent to Qandahar, and General Stewart led his 7,000 men through a fight at Ghazni to Kabul by May 3, 1880. Partly because of his Afghan policy, Disraeli's party lost the election, and he resigned on April 28. Lytton was trying to break up Afghanistan but also resigned. Prime Minister William Gladstone appointed the liberal George Ripon as viceroy, and he arrived in June. Although Abdur Rahman, Sher Ali's nephew, had found refuge in Russian territory, he agreed to the British terms and was proclaimed the Amir of Kabul on July 22. Ayub Khan, the brother of Yakub Khan, was governing Herat, and he marched on Qandahar, where Sher Ali Khan had been proclaimed an independent governor; he appealed to the British. General James Primrose had less than 6,000 men, and he sent General George Burrows with about 2,500 men. Ayub Khan had 16,000 men, and at Maiwand they gave the British their worst defeat by Asians, killing 969 British soldiers and most of their baggage animals. Hearing of this, General Roberts with help from Abdur Rahman led 10,000 men from Kabul, and after marching 318 miles they defeated Ayub Khan's army outside of Qandahar on August 9. Ayub Khan lost nearly 3,000 men and fled back to Herat. Sher Ali Khan was persuaded to retire in India on a pension, and Abdur Rahman took over Qandahar province in April 1881. Later that year Ayub Khan marched on Qandahar again and defeated them; but Abdur Rahman led his forces to victory over Ayub Khan, who fled to Persia.

Abdur Rahman had become the ruler of all Afghanistan with an annual subsidy of 12 lakhs of rupees. The British had spent £17.5 million on an unnecessary war because of an irrational fear of Russian power. Frederick Roberts agreed with Lawrence that the forward policy had failed. He believed that if the Russians went into Afghanistan, they would have the same problems or worse. Viceroy Ripon was able to reduce military expenditures.

India's Renaissance 1881-1905

Bankim Chandra Chatterji's Novels

Bankim Chandra Chatterji was born into a Brahmin family on June 26, 1838. His father was in the Bengali civil service, and Bankim Chandra was well educated, learning Sanskrit and English. He was one of the first two students to graduate from Calcutta University in 1858. He went right into the Bengal civil service as a deputy magistrate and held the same rank (except for one year) until he retired in 1891. In his spare time he promoted nationalism with religious fervor by writing fourteen novels in Bengali about Hindu heroes. Bankim Chandra also wrote essays and four treatises on Hinduism. In 1872 he founded the monthly magazine Bangadarshan. He was influenced by European literature and has been compared to Walter Scott.

Bankim Chandra’s first novel Durgeshnandini was published in 1865 and is set in the time of Emperor Akbar when the Pathans ruled Bengal and were invaded by the Mughals. Tilottama is the daughter of a Bengali chief and falls in love with the son of Akbar’s general. Kapalkundala (1866) is about a maiden who gets married and is in danger of being sacrificed by a Tantric worshipper of Kali; this novel criticizes Tantric practices. Mrinalini (1869) is also set when the Muslims were conquering Bengal. Magadha prince Hemchandra secretly marries Mrinalini, who is sent away by his preceptor. Some Brahmins earn their living by serving the Muslims. The Poison Tree was serialized in Bangadarshan and was published in 1873. Kundanandini’s first husband dies, and she becomes the second wife of the zamindar Nagendranath. Problems arise because of his having two wives. Indira (1873) is narrated by a Bengali girl who gets lost before being reunited with her husband. Yugalanguriya (1874) and Radharani (1875) are romances. Chandrashekhar (1875) is about a couple who love each other from childhood but are too closely related to marry. Rajani (1877) is about a blind girl, and each character tells one’s own story, revealing the problems of polygamy and drinking. Krishnakanta's Will (1878) is a domestic novel involving disagreements over inheritance; Bankim Chandra considered it his best novel.

Rajsimha (1882) is about a Mughal-Hindu conflict when Emperor Aurangzeb imposed the jiziya tax on Hindus. Rajsimha is an Indian prince who defends a princess and eventually marries her. Debi Chaudhurani (1884) is set in Bengal when it was being governed by Warren Hastings and is about a woman who becomes a queen of robbers. Bankimchandra’s last novel Sitaram (1887) is about a zamindar with three wives who has his kingdom destroyed by the Muslims.

Bankim Chandra’s most famous novel, Anandamath, began serialization in Bangadarshan in March 1881 and was published as a book the next year. During the terrible famine of 1770 the zamindar Mahendra Simha and his wife Kalyani with their baby girl Sukumari leave their home to look for food. Starving robbers capture Kalyani and the baby, but they escape and are taken by Satyananda to the Anandamath monastery of the Sannyasis (Santans). He gives them food; but Kalyani refuses to eat until she finds her husband. Sepoys arrest Mahendra as a robber, but Bhabananda is also captured and helps him escape during a robbery by the Santans. Bhabananda sings, “I revere the Mother!” This “Bande Mataram” became the national anthem of India. Here is a portion of the song in Sri Aurobindo’s translation:

Mother, I bow to thee!
Rich with my hurrying streams,
Bright with thy orchard gleams,
Cool with thy winds of delight,
Dark fields waving, Mother of might, Mother free….
Thou art wisdom, thou art law,
Thou our heart, our soul, our breath,
Thou the love divine, the awe
In our hearts that conquers death.
Thine the strength that nerves the arm,
Thine the beauty, thine the charm.
Every image made divine
In our temples is but thine….
In thy soul, with jeweled hair
And thy glorious smile divine,
Loveliest of all earthly lands,
Showering wealth from well-stored hands!5

Bhabananda takes Mahendra to Anandamath, where he finds Kalyani. After having a dream, she takes some poison, and their child accidentally swallows the pill. Mahendra believes both are dead and is imprisoned with Satyananda as rebels. Jibananda finds the child and takes her to be revived by his sister Nimai. His wife Shanti comes in, and it is against his vow to see her. An attack by Santans liberates Satyananda and Mahendra, and Muslim homes are burned. Shanti disguises herself as a man to join her husband Jibananda in the celibate order as Nabinananda. She is strong enough to string a bow, and Satyananda puts her on probation.

The famine has ended, but a third of the people have died. Bold Captain Thomas enters the dangerous jungle alone and meets the ascetic Shanti. She snatches his musket and refuses to be his concubine. Shanti tells Jibananda that she is sharing his asceticism, and their marriage will be fruitful in the next life. Bhabananda has fallen in love with Kalyani and wants to marry her. She says that the penance for giving up his vow will be death. Dhirananda knows Bhabananda’s secret, and he wants to spend his life with his wife and children. Bhabananda threatens to kill Dhirananda, who runs away. Satyananda finds Bhabananda, and they return to the monastery. Satyananda tells ten thousand Santans that they are going to attack the army of Thomas which has cannons. Bhabananda persuades Jibananda to let him make the sacrifice, and he attacks the English artillery with two thousand Santans. Bhabananda captures Thomas and takes the cannons to the bridge held by Jibananda and Dhirananda. Captain Thomas is put on a horse, and Bhabananda attacks from behind him. Thomas tells his men to shoot him first and then kill the rebels. Bhabananda loses both limbs and is killed too. Satyananda tells Jibananda, Mahendra, Nabinananda, and Dhirananda that they have triumphed, and everyone else is out looting.

Kalyani goes looking for her husband Mahendra, and Shanti goes with her. Kalyani finds her daughter with Nimai, who does not want to give her up. Mahendra has been in charge of making weapons. He learns that Nabinananda is the woman Shanti, the celibate wife of Jibananda. Governor-General Warren Hastings sends a force under Major Edwards. Shanti dresses as a woman and is taken to Major Edwards. The English officer Lindlay takes her on his horse, but she throws him off and escapes. The English army and the Santans are climbing the opposite sides of a hill. Satyananda has brought another army. Jibananda leads a bold charge that crushes the English army between the two Santan armies.

At night Shanti finds Jibananda’s dead body; but a Healer revives his vital signs, and medicine cures him. Satyananda returns to the monastery with the Healer, who explains to him there is no need for the pointless killing of human beings. The English will rule because the Hindus are not yet ready to do so. Satyananda had won a victory and wealth by the mistaken means of banditry. Such wrongdoing does not produce holy fruit nor free the land. The English will rule so that the eternal law may eventually be reinstated. The Hindus have the inner knowledge, but they have lost the outward knowledge, which the English have and will be able to teach them. The English are traders and are trying to accumulate wealth; but the rebellion is forcing them to rule. The Healer advises Satyananda to give up warfare and cultivate the land. He warns that no one can fight the English and win. They will rule as friends. The Healer takes Satyananda to see the form of the Mother. The Great One was Kalyani and had come as sacrifice to take honor in the persons of Satyananda and Shanti. Thus the novel concludes as a spiritual allegory.

In 1888 Bankim Chandra wrote Dharmatattva as a dialog between a master and a disciple on spiritual discipline. In writing of physical disciplines, the author complained about the 1878 act which prohibited Indians from carrying weapons in public. They discuss suffering, happiness, dharma (duty), humanism, culture, and various forms of devotion (bhakti). These include knowledge, action, renunciation, meditation, and love. Love can be for God, oneself, family, the motherland, and all living creatures; but for Bankim Chandra the highest dharma and greatest love is for one’s country. His patriotism reflects an era of growing nationalism.

India's Renaissance 1881-1905


1. Dalhousie's Administration of British India by Edwin Arnold, i, p. 325 quoted in British Power in the Punjab 1839-1858 by N. M. Khilnani, p. 195.
2. Rise and Fulfillment of British Rule in India by Edward Thompson and G. T. Garratt, p. 382 quoted in British Paramountcy and Indian Renaissance, Part 1, p. 15 and 76.
3. Lord Ellenborough by A. H. Imlah, p. 255. Parliamentary Papers, 1857-58, XLIII (265), p. 4-5 quoted in British Paramountcy and Indian Renaissance, Part 1, p. 637.
4. Political History of England, Volume 12, p. 306-307 quoted in British Paramountcy and Indian Renaissance, Part I, p. 691.
5. Anandamath, or The Sacred Brotherhood by Bankimcandra Chatterji tr. Julius J. Lipner, p. 298-299.

Copyright © 2007 by Sanderson Beck

This chapter has been published in the book SOUTH ASIA 1800-1950.
For ordering information, please click here.


British India 1800-1848
British India's Wars 1848-1881
India's Renaissance 1881-1905
India's Freedom Struggle 1905-1918
Gandhi and India 1919-1933
Liberating India and Pakistan 1934-1950
Tibet, Nepal, and Ceylon 1800-1950
Burma, Malaya and the British 1800-1950
Siam, Cambodia, and Laos 1800-1950
Vietnam and the French 1800-1950
Indonesia and the Dutch 1800-1950
Australia to 1950
New Zealand to 1950
Summary and Evaluation


World Chronological Index
Chronology of Asia & Africa to 1800
Chronology of Asia & Africa 1800-1950
Chronology of South Asia to 1950

BECK index