The revolt of 1857

The Indian Rebellion in 1857 represented an important, but eventually unsuccessful, revolt in India between 1857 and 1858 against the British East India Company, a sovereign power in the name of the British Crown. In the garrison town of Meerut, 40 mi (64 km) northwest of Delhi (now old Delhi), rebellion began on the 10th of May 1857 as a mutiny of corporate army troops. It then broke out in other rebellions, mainly in the upper Gangetic plains and central India, although there were also more northern and east incidents. In that area, the rebellion posed an extensive threat to the British power and was only contained in Gwalior ‘s defeat on 20 June 1858. The British gave amnesty on 1 November 1858 to all non-assassinated rebels, even though they did not formalize their hostilities until 8 July 1859. His name is disputed, defined in different ways as Sepoy Mutiny, Indian Mutiny, the Great Rebellion, the 1857 Rebellion, the American Rebellion, the First War of Independence.

Indian rebellion was nurtured by resentments emerging from diverse perceptions, including intrusive social reforms of the British type, harsh taxes on land, a gradual withdrawal by rich landowners and princes, and uncertainty about improving British rule. However, many Indians fought also for the British and most of them tended to be in line with the British law. On both sides, British officers and civilians, including women and children, were targeted by rebels and their allies, including sometimes whole towns, on terror, sometimes betraying unprecedented brutality, by British.

Following the outbreak at the Meerut mutiny, the rebels soon arrived at Delhi, which was proclaimed emperor Hindustan by its 81-year-old Mughal ruler Bahadur Shah Zafar. Eventually, large tracts of the North-West and Awadh provinces were occupied by the rebels. The response of the East India Company also came quickly. Kanpur and Delhi were recovered by the middle of July 1857 with the aid of reinforcements. It took the rest of 1857 and the best part of 1858 for Jhansi, Lucknow, and particularly the landscape of Awadh to suppress the rebellion. Other corporate managed regions in India — Bengal, Bombay, and Madras — have largely remained calm. In the Punjab, the Sikh princes supported the UK decisively by supporting and supplying troops. In the words of Governor-General Lord Canning, the large princely nations, Hyderabad, Mysore and Kashmir, and the smaller Rajputana, did not join the uprising, serving the British as “breakers in a storm.”

The revolt took on the characteristics of a patriot revolt against the British oppression in certain regions, especially Awadh. The rebels, however, did not declare articles of faith for a new constitutional structure. However, the rebellion proved a significant pillar in the history of the Indian and British empires. It caused the East India Company to split and compelled the British, in the passage of the Government of India Act 1858, to reorganise the army, the financial system and administration in India. The British government directly administered India in the emerging British Raj thereafter. Queen Victoria released a declaration on 1 November 1845 to the Indians, who promised equal rights to other British subjects, though lacking the legitimacy of a constitutional clause. Over the next decades, the Indians had to make strong reference to the Queen’s proclamation with the admissions of a new nationalism, when they were not always admitted to such privileges.

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