History: Revolt of 1857

Revolt of 1857 – First War of Independence Against British

The revolt of 1857 forms one of the most important chapters in the history of the struggle of the Indian people for liberation from the British rule. The revolt began on May 10, 1857, at Meerut as sepoy mutiny. It was initiated by sepoys in the Bengal Presidency against the British officers. This war of Independence marked the end of rule by the British East India company. Post this, India was directly ruled by the British government through representatives called as Governor-General.

Beginning of Revolt of 1857

Started by Mangal Pandey on 29th march 1857, refusing to use greased rifle cartridges (Greased composed of fat taken from beef & pig) & killing his officer at Barackpore, Bengal. Mangal Pandey was hanged & his regiment disbanded with sepoy guilty of rebellion punished.A chain reaction started & in May 1857, at Meerut 85 sepoys were sentenced imprisoned for refusing to use greased cartridges

Impact of Revolt of 1857

The revolt of 1857 shook the foundation of British East India Company and disclosed their inefficiency in handling the Indian administration. The major impact was the introduction of Government of India act which abolished the rule of British East India Company and marked the beginning of British raj that bestowed powers in the hands of the British government to rule India directly through representatives.


Causes of Revolt of 1857

Economic Causes

  • High land revenue
  • Heavy Taxation
  • Discriminatory tariff policy against Indian products
  • Destruction of traditional handicrafts industry
  • Heavy Mechanization & Huge drain of wealth

Religious & Social Causes

  • Racism or racial discrimination was believed to be a major reason for the revolt of 1857 wherein Indians were exploited and were kept away from mixing with Europeans.
  • The whites also started interfering in the religious and cultural affairs of Indians and tortured them as well. This enraged Indians and led to the revolt of 1857.

Political Causes

  • The annexation policy of British was one of the major causes for the revolt.
  • Lord Dalhousie’s Doctrine of Lapse had created fear and uneasiness throughout India. According to Doctrine
    of Lapse an Indian state was annexed by British if the ruler had no natural heir. Satara , Jhansi, Nagpur and
    sambhalpur were annexed owing to Doctrine of lapse

Immediate Causes

  • The introduction of Enfield greased rifles whose cartridges were said to have a greased cover made of beef
    and pork sparked off the revolt.
  • On 29 March 1857 at Barrakpore near Calcutta, Mangal panday a young Indian Brahmin sepoy from Bengal
    regiment refused to use greased cartridge. When he was forced by his sergeant he shot him down.
  • The sepoy broke out into open revolt at Meerut in May 1857 they broke open the prisons and released their
    imprisoned comrades.

Important Leaders of the Revolt

Delhi Bahadur Shah II, General Bakht Khan
Lucknow Begum Hazrat Mahal, Birjis Qadir, Ahmadullah
Kanpur Nana Sahib, Rao Sahib, Tantia Tope, Azimullah Khan
Jhansi Rani Laxmibai
Bihar Kunwar Singh, Amar Singh
Rajasthan Jaidayal Singh and Hardayal Singh
Farrukhabad Tufzal Hasan Khan
Assam Kandapareshwar Singh, Maniram Dutta Baruah
Orissa Surendra Shahi, Ujjwal Shahi


Causes for Failure of the Revolt

  • South India remained quit and Punjab and Bengal were only marginally affected.
  • The educated Indians did not support the movement in general.
  • The revolt was planned throughout the country on May 31,1857 but it broke out prematurely.
  • The Revolutionaries had no common idea. The Muslims wanted to revive Mughal rule and the Hindus wanted
    to revive the Peshwa Raj.
  • The British through their diplomacy of divine and rule prevented most of the Indian rulers to join together for
    a common cause.
  • The Indian princes and zamindars either remained loyal or were fearful of British power.
  • One of the important reasons for the failure of the rebellion was the absence of a central authority.

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