[History] Revolt of 1857 - Causes and Consequences

  • During the Governor-General Lord Canning
  • May 11, 1857. The Meerut incident. Capture of Delhi. Proclaiming B S jafar as the emperor.
  • Almost half the Company’s sepoy strength of 232224 opted out of their loyalty to their regimental colours.
  • Kanpur: Nana Saheb; Lucknow: Begum Hazrat Mahal; Bareilly: Khan Bahadur; Jagdishpur (Ara): Kunwar Singh; Jhansi: Rani Lakshmi Bai
  • Only the Madras army remained totally loyal. Sikh regiment as well remained largely loyal

Causes for the Revolt
The revolt was a result of the accumulated grievances of the people against
Company’s administration and a loathing for the character and policies of the
colonial rule. The causes can be classified as social, economic, religious and
military.

 Why did the Sepoys 
Revolt?
  • The conditions of service in the Company’s army and cantonments increasingly came into conflict with the religious beliefs and prejudices of the sepoys.
  • The unhappiness of the sepoys first surfaced in 1824 when the 47th Regiment of Barrackpur was ordered to go to Burma. To the religious Hindu, crossing the sea meant loss of caste. The sepoys refused. The regiment was disbanded and those who led the opposition were hanged.
  • The rumors about the Government’s secret designs to promote conversions to Christianity further exasperated the sepoys.
  • The greased cartridges.
  • They were also unhappy with the emoluments
  • Discrimination and racism
  • Misery brought to the peasants by the British rule. E.g. the land revenue system imposed in Oudh, where about 75000 sepoys came from, was very harsh.

Unfolding of 
Revolt
  • After the capture of Delhi, a letter was issued to the neighboring states asking for support.
  • A court of administrators was established in Delhi
  • Ill-equipped, the rebels carried on the struggle for about a year
  • The country as a whole was not behind them. The merchants, intelligentsia and Indian rulers not only kept aloof but actively supported the British.
  • Almost half the Indian soldiers not only did not revolt but fought against their own countrymen.
  • Apart from a commonly shared hatred for alien rule, the rebels had no political perspective or definite vision of the future
  • Delhi fell on September 20, 1857.
  • Rani of Jhansi died fighting on June 17, 1858.
  • Nana Saheb escaped to Nepal hoping to revive the struggle.
  • Kunwar Singh died on May 9, 1958.
  • Tantia tope carried on guerrilla warfare until April 1959 after which he was betrayed by a zamindar, captured and put to death.

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