Notes The First War of Independence 1857 ICSE Class 10 History and Civics

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ICSE Class 10 History and Civics The First War of Independence 1857

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The First War of Independence 1857 ICSE Class 10 History

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Notes The First War of Independence 1857 ICSE Class 10 History and Civics

Know the terms

➢ Mutiny – When soldiers as a group disobey their officers in the Army.
➢ Doctrine of Lapse – Policy of Annexation introduced by Lord Dalhousie When a ruler of subsidiary state died without a natural heir, the state was passed on to the English.
➢ Subsidiary Alliance – Policy of annexation introduced by Lord Wellesly.
➢ Government of India Act 1858 – An Act according which the power to govern India was transferred from the
East India Company to the British Crown.
➢ Queen Victoria’s Proclamation – This was issued by the Queen on, November 1858. It was read by Lord Canning.
Under this Proclamation, provinces were made with Zamindars.

Know the Dates
➢ 1857 – The First Freedom Revolt against the British. It is also known as sepoy mutiny or India’s First war of
➢ 1878 – Vernacular Press Act
➢ 1883 – The Ilbert Bill

Know the Personalities
➢ Mangal Pandey – He was a Brahmin sepoy at Barrackpore who headed the protest of discontented sepoys.
➢ Nana Saheb – The adopted son of Peshwa Baji Rao II. He led the War of Independence at Kanpur.
➢ Tatya Tope – He was the Commander of Nana Sahib’s forces.
➢ Rani Laxmibai – She was the Queen of Jhansi.
➢ Lord Dalhousie – He performed the Annexation of Oudh.
➢ Queen Victoria – The Queen of England at the time of India’s First War Indian War of Independence.

Causes and Events of the First War of Independence

1. In 1857, there occurred a series of events which were referred to as Sepoy Mutiny by the British and the First War of Independence by Indians.
It was much more than mutiny, as a large number of civilians, peasants, rulers, etc. joined the uprising.
2. The Revolt first began at Barrackpore, when most of the Indian soldiers refused to use the cartridges which were rumoured to have been greased with the fat of pigs and cows.
3. As a result, a Brahmin soldier named Mangal Pandey led an attack on the adjutant of the 34th Native Infantry on 29 March, 1857. He was arrested and Hanged on 8th April 1857. Within a month of this incidence, uprising started in Meerut, Delhi, Kanpur, Lucknow, Jhansi and at many other places.
4. Causes of Revolt

(i) Military Causes : Several factors contributed to a change in the attitude of the Indian soldiers toward the Company.
• The Indian and British soldiers were not treated equally. The salary was too meagre to support their families, while the duties of both the British and the Indian soldiers were more or less similar.
• The Indian soldiers could only rise to the position of Subedar.
• According to the General Service Enlistment Act of 1856, Indian soldiers could be sent overseas on duty. Indian soldiers dreaded sea voyage and considered it against their customs.
• Numerical strength of the Indian soldiers which was much higher than the number of the European soldiers which gave courage to them to fight against the British.
• Indians were of the belief that, the British were invincible, but the British were beaten in the First Afghan War (1838–42). This made the Indian soldiers feel that if the Afghans could defeat the British, why couldn’t they.

(ii) Social and Religious Cause
• The British Government’s attempts to interfere in the social and religious life of the Indians led to wide spread fear among the masses.
• The work of missionaries, who were spreading education and Christianity, upset the masses.
• The combined effect of the British Expansionist Policy, economic exploitation and administrative changes adversely affected the Indian society as a whole.
• The British Social reforms – Abolition of Sati (1829), Legislation of Widow Remarriage (1856) etc.; hurt the sentiments of the orthodox and conservative people.
• The British looked down on the Indians and laughed at their customs. At all times, they kept a distance from the Indians and treated them with indignity. All this caused a great hatred in the minds of the Indians.
• Even the positive works of the British, like the introduction of the railway, was misinterpreted by the Indians. The orthodox Indians felt humiliated to note that in the railway compartments Brahmins and people from backward classes were made to sit side by side.
• Taxes were imposed on temples and mosques.
• The importance of traditional educational institutions like ‘Gurukuls’ and ‘Madarsas’ was reduced due to the establishment of the English school. Thus, Indians felt hurt.

(iii) Political Causes
• Lord Dalhousie’s Policy of Annexation and the Doctrine of Lapse made British very unpopular, the rulers of the different states became bitter enemies of the British.
• The British refused to grant pension to Nana Sahib, as he was the adopted son of Peshwa Baji Rao II. This act of British turn Nana Sahib into a strong enemy of the British.
• In 1849, Lord Dalhausie announced that after Bahadur Shah his successor would not be permitted to use the Red Fort as their palace. In 1856, Lord Canning announced that Bahadur Shah’s successor will not be allowed to use the imperial titles with their names. This enraged the Muslims, consequently Bahadur Shah began plotting against the British.
• The Annexation of Oudh, on the theory that it was not ruled well and then the disbanding of its army, added to the resentment against the British.
• To add to this, the Indians preferred being ruled by Indians rulers, who at least understood them rather than by the British who did not make any effort to mix with Indians.

(iv) Economic Causes
• The resources from India were exploited for the good of the British people and growth of industries in Britain. Raw material were exported and finished goods were imported. It ruined the Indian industries and handicrafts.
• Indian handicraft slowly died. Machine-made British cloth was cheaper. Therefore, the looms at homes were shut.
• People moved to cities to find employment, which was very difficult to get. Peasants were forced to pay tax in cash, which pushed them into the hands of the moneylenders, as tax was collected even during the famines.
• Indigo, tea, jute, cotton and opium were crops which the British wanted the Indians to grow. If the peasants planted anything else, their crops were destroyed. Thus, there was less food, people suffered through the ever increasing and spreading famine.
• The Inam Commission, appointed in 1852 in Bombay, confiscation as many as 20,000 estates. This drove the landed aristocracy to poverty without benefitting the peasantry, which suffered due to the exorbitant land revenue. It was claimed by the merchant, moneylenders and the new owners of these estates.
• Annexation of native states resulted in loss of jobs of millions of people attached to the royal courts. The British also disbanded the Army of the Nawabs. Soldiers who lost their jobs became bitter enemies of the British.

5. Important Events of the First War of Independence

(i) Trouble started in Barrackpore, soon spread to Meerut where 85 sepoy disobeyed orders to use the new greased cartridges, were stripped of their uniforms and awarded 10 years of imprisonment.

(ii) Their colleagues freed them, murdered the British soldiers, burnt their houses and marched to Delhi. They seized the city and proclaimed the Mughal Emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar as the Emperor of India.

(iii) The loss of Delhi, lowered the respect of the British Army. So in order to achieve their respect again, Sir John Nicholson, with the help of loyal Sikh soldiers, besieged Delhi. In the end, surmounted Delhi, Bahadur Shah Zafar’s sons were killed and he and his wife were exiled to Rangoon.

(iv) Begum Hazrat Mahal, the wife of the Nawab of Awadh led the uprising at Lucknow on, 30 May, 1857. The city was recaptured by the British in March 1858. Begum Hazrat Mahal fled toward the Nepal Frontier.

(v) In Jhansi, rebellion was led by Rani Laxmibai of Jhansi who fought against Sir Hugh Rose. After leaving Jhansi, she met Tantya Tope at Kalpi. She fought courageously but died while fighting.

(vi) In Kanpur, rebellion was led by Nana Sahib with his commander Tantya Tope. It was General Havelock and General Colin Campbell who subdued the rebellion.

(vii) There were uprisings in other parts of India also but by the end of 1858 the rebellions had been completely controlled.

6. Causes of Failure

(i) The Indians had no common defined goal e g. Rani Laxmibai fought for Jhansi and Nana Saheb fought as he had been refused pension.

(ii) The effects were not planned and co-ordinated.

(iii) Only a few Indian leaders helped each other. One such incident was that of Tantya Tope who went to help Rani Jhansi in trouble while the British were always helping each other.

(iv) The British had experienced military Generals like General Havelock, General Colin Campbell. Indian leaders were brave but few were expert in military planning.

(v) The British had the latest guns and ammunition and money to finance their efforts, while the Indians did not have enough guns and hardly some money to finance themselves.

Consequences of The First War of Independence

Effects and Consequences

(i) Political and Administrative effects
The first significant result of the Revolt was the end of the rule of the East India Company by the Act for Better Government to India passed in August 1858. India came under the rule of the British Monarch,
Queen Victoria and Lord Canning was the first Viceroy of India.
The Policy of Annexation was put on hold; the ‘Doctrine of Lapse’ was abolished. It was declared that all the treaties would be honoured. The proclamation declared that the British would not interfere in the
social and religious affairs of the Indians.
After 1858, the British continued their policy of ‘Divide and Rule’ by giving special protections and concessions to the Princely States, encouraging hatred and ill feelings among the Hindus and Muslims,
so that the people of India could never challenge to the British authority.
After the revolt, the Army was thoroughly reorganized and built up on the policy of ‘division and counterpoise” the strength of European troops in India were increased on the other hand the number of Indian troops were reduced.

(ii) Economic Exploitation
• Now onwards, India was slowly made in to an economic colony of the British who used all possible methods to drain India of her wealth.
Not just the East India Company, but other traders also made India into a supplier of raw materials and a place where they dumped their manufactured goods.
Money was sent to England as profits, as salaries and as savings.
Indians like Dadabhai Naoroji realized what the British were doing and openly criticized the British policy of economic exploitation of India.

(iii) Rise of Nationalism
Though the rebellions was short-lived, it enthused the youth as the youth wanted to emulate or copy the leaders of the First War of Independence. Many leaders of the rebellion became the subject of many poems and songs which were very popular. Their sacrifices inspired others to sacrifice and the seed of nationalism was sown by this event.

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The First War of Independence 1857 ICSE Class 10 History