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Revolt of 1857

The Revolt of 1857, also known as the Indian Rebellion of 1857, was a big uprising against the British East India Company in India. It started on May 10, 1857, when soldiers in Meerut rebelled. The revolt spread to other areas, with more soldiers and civilians joining. It happened mostly in the northern part of India and central regions. This article below will discuss the events, the causes and the outcome of the Revolt of 1857. Read till the end for a better understanding of this historical event.

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    Immediate Reason for Revolt of 1857

    The revolt of 1857 happened because of many reasons. People suffered a lot because of British rules. They faced economic problems because of high taxes and unfair policies. The British also took over Indian states, which made rulers unhappy. Indian soldiers were treated badly compared to British soldiers. The issue of greased cartridges made things worse. When Indian soldiers refused to use them, the revolt started. Even after trying to solve the problem, the anger disappeared. When Mangal Pandey was executed and soldiers were put in jail, the revolt became bigger. This marked the beginning of a big rebellion.

    Revolt of 1857

    Causes of The Revolt of 1857

    The Revolt of 1857 was the result of the policies pursued by the British East India Company, which badly affected various segments of society, including rulers, peasants, and traders. A single policy or event did not trigger the uprising of 1857; it was the result of various political, economic, administrative, and socio-religious factors. These underlying causes can be summarised as follows:

    Political Causes

    The expansionist policies of the British, which included the Doctrine of Lapse and direct annexations, played a significant role in fueling the revolt. These policies resulted in the displacement of numerous Indian rulers and chiefs, creating fear and resentment among other ruling families. Denying Rani Lakshmi Bai’s adopted son’s claim to the throne of Jhansi and the annexation of territories like Satara, Nagpur, and Jhansi intensified tensions. Additionally, the annexation of Awadh by Lord Dalhousie left thousands unemployed, transforming it from a loyal state to a centre of unrest. These actions contributed to the widespread discontent and played a crucial role in sparking the revolt against British rule in India.

    Economic Causes

    The economic burden imposed by the British impacted the lives of the peasants. Peasants faced heavy taxes and had to borrow money at high-interest rates from lenders. The failure to repay loans led to land confiscation, leaving peasants without income. Moreover, the British annexation of Indian states deprived rulers of their ability to support artisans and craftsmen, which further destabilised the economic conditions. Additionally, the economic policies of the British East India Company devastated Indian industries and handicrafts.

    Mangal Pandey Revolt of 1857

    The revolt led by Mangal Pandey in 1857 made Indian soldiers very angry because they feared disrespect for their religion and suspected they were being forced to convert to Christianity. Pandey, a soldier, protested against the use of Enfield rifle cartridges and the distribution of Bibles to soldiers. On March 29, he tried to start a rebellion by attacking Lieutenant Baugh, but he failed. Even though other soldiers didn’t help the officers, they managed to stop Pandey and later hanged him on April 8. His friend, Jemadar Ishwari Prasad, was also hanged. The 34th Regiment was disbanded because they did not stop Pandey’s actions. Sepoy Paltu, who tried to help the officers, was killed. Pandey’s actions were one of the events that led to the 1857 revolt against British rule.

    Causes of Failure of the Revolt of 1857

    Lack of Support from the Ruling Power: During that period, the ruling classes were beneficiaries of British policies, leading them to back the British rather than support the revolt. Key figures like Sir Dinkar Rao of Gwalior, Sir Salar Jung of Hyderabad, the Sang Bahadur of Nepal, the ruler of Afghanistan, as well as leaders from Patiala, Sindh, and Kashmir, along with certain Sikh chieftains, actively supported the British.

    Absence of Nationalistic Sentiment: The rebellions lacked a sense of national identity.

    The rulers supported the sepoys because they did not like the East India Company. But back then, people did not feel like they were all part of one big country called India. They mostly cared about their town, area, or sometimes their state. They didn’t think of themselves as all being Indian.

    Leaders Associated with 1857 Revolt

    Throughout the 1857 Revolt, also recognised as the Indian Rebellion of 1857 or the First War of Independence, numerous notable leaders rose to prominence from various parts of India. Below are the leaders of the revolt of 1857

    • Mangal Pandey
    • General Bakht Khan
    • Nana Saheb
    • Begum Hazrat Mahal
    • Rani Laxmibai
    • Kunwar Singh

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    Centers of The Revolt

    The main focal points of the 1857 revolt included:

    • Delhi
    • Lucknow
    • Meerut
    • Kanpur
    • Jhansi
    • Gwalior
    • Barrackpore
    • Bareilly

    Beginning in May 1857 in Meerut, the revolt swiftly spread throughout northern and central India. The uprising predominantly impacted the country’s northern regions, spanning from the vicinity of Patna to the borders of Rajasthan.

    British Officials Who Suppressed the Revolt

    British officials who suppressed the revolt played a main role in quelling the uprising during the Indian Rebellion of 1857. These officials, representing the colonial administration, were tasked with restoring order and maintaining British control over the affected regions.They used different methods like using soldiers, talking with people, and forcing them to obey, to stop the rebellion and control the Indian leaders and fighters who were against British rule.

    Place Indian Leaders British Officials who suppressed the revolt
    Delhi Bahadur Shah II John Nicholson
    Lucknow Begum Hazrat Mahal Henry Lawrence
    Kanpur Nana Saheb Sir Colin Campbell
    Jhansi & Gwalior Lakshmi Bai & Tantia Tope General Hugh Rose
    Bareilly Khan Bahadur Khan Sir Colin Campbell
    Allahabad Maulvi Liyakat Ali Colonel Oncell
    Banaras Maulvi Liyakat Ali Colonel Oncell
    Bihar Kunwar Singh William Taylor

    Result of The Revolt

    The Revolt of 1857 profoundly shook the foundations of the British East India Company, revealing its incompetence in governing India. The significant outcome was the enactment of the Government of India Act in 1858, which ended the British East India Company’s rule and inaugurated the British Raj’s era, placing India directly under the governance of the British Crown through appointed representatives.

    Key points of transformation:

    • End of company rule: The monumental uprising of 1857 signalled the termination of the East India Company’s governance in India.
    • Establishment of direct British Crown rule: India transitioned to direct rule by the British Crown, officially announced by Lord Canning during a Durbar in Allahabad through a proclamation issued on November 1, 1858, in the name of Queen Victoria.
    • Administration under Queen Victoria: The administration of India was assumed by Queen Victoria, effectively placing governance under the authority of the British Parliament. The creation of the India Office facilitated the management and administration of the country.

    FAQs on Revolt of 1857

    What triggered the 1857 revolt?

    The 1857 revolt, known as the First War of Independence, was sparked by various factors, including British annexation policies, the Doctrine of Lapse, discrimination against Indians, and oppressive British economic and social policies.

    Who is the father of Revolt of 1857?

    Mangal Pandey, often considered the catalyst for the 1857 revolt, played a significant role in igniting the spirit of resistance among Indian soldiers.

    What were the primary hubs of the 1857 revolt?

    The key centres of the uprising included Delhi, Cawnpore, Lucknow, Jhansi, and Gwalior.

    What was the main cause of the 1857 revolt?

    The main cause of the 1857 revolt was the discontent with British policies, including cultural insensitivity, economic exploitation, and military grievances. The immediate spark was the introduction of rifle cartridges rumored to be greased with cow and pig fat, offending both Hindu and Muslim soldiers and symbolizing the broader disrespect and exploitation by the British.

    Why is the Revolt of 1857 called the First War of Independence?

    The Revolt of 1857 is known as the First War of Independence because it was the first significant attempt by Indians to unite against British rule. It represented a nationwide effort to reclaim control from the British, laying the foundation for India's eventual fight for freedom. Despite its failure, it is remembered as a key moment in the movement towards Indian independence.

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