may 4th british east india company prompt
During the Age of the Exploration starting from the early 15th century, European countries began to look for new trade routes across the world. For instance, Vasco da Gama was the first European to sail directly from Europe to India around the Cape of Good Hope. In 1600, the British East India Company was founded. The British East India Company was established to allow England to participate in the East India spice trade. In the period 1750-1900, while many rulers of Inida were initally allowed to rule independently from the British East India Company, their freedom to exercise power independently was soon limited, which led to a violent uprising against the British.
Some rulers of Indian states kept a neutral and positive relationship with the British in hopes to exercise power independently from the British, which is revealed in documents 1 and 7. Muhammad Ali Khan Wallajah, the ruler of the southeast Indian state of Arcot, sent a letter to the Court of Directors of the British East India Company in 1777 (document 1). Because the author is the leader of the weaker state, this recognition of superior military and imperialist power may have influenced the author’s try to remain respectful and friendly. The language Muhammad Ali Khan Wallajah uses, such as “positive” and “thankful,” reveal how the author is trying to flatter the British’s initial decision to take down the prince of Tanjore. However, the author’s real intention is revealed when he warns the British East India Company about the change of its mind. Although the Indian ruler is obeying the British’s order, the author remains positive with the power that he is given and even warns the British, but eventually ensures the British to trust his power by referring Tanjore to “our common enemies.” The ruler of the Indian state of Hyderabad wrote a letter to the British Resident Political Officer in Hyderabad in 1898 (document 7). The friendly relationship between the British and India is revealed when the author mentions how the British Resident Political Officer offered a tutor for Mahbub Ali Khan’s eldest son. Although the author continues to flatter the British because of its superior power over India, Mahbub Ali Khan explicitly states the restrictions of the tutor in the second paragraph. The fact that the author is allowed to make such restrictions to a European tutor reveals how he is allowed to exercise power independently from the British. Thus, document 1 and 7 reveal that some Indian rulers were allowed to exercise power independently from the British, although it was not complete freedom.
Some rulers of Indian states had hostile reactions due to their limited opportunity to exercise power independently from the British, which ultimately led to a violent uprising against the British, which is revealed in documents 2,3, and 4. The 1780 Battle of Pollilur between the Indian state of Mysore and the British East India Company is depicted in document 2. This clearly portrays the violent reaction towards the European force in India, proving the discontent of the Indian ruler towards the British. However, because it was painted by an Indian artist, he/she might have exaggerated the victory of India over the British. This brutal battle and a victory against a European country can be also seen in the Battle of Adowa in 1896. During the Scramble for Africa, many European countries colonized African states. However, when Italy tried to colonize Ethiopia, Ethiopians brutally fought against the Italians and defeated them, resulting in their independence. However, Mysore did not gain its independence until 1947. Shortly after the battle, Tipu Sultan, ruler of Myrose, sent a letter to the Mughal emperor in 1785 (document 3). In this letter, the author clearly reveals his friendliness towards the Mughal emperor, but extreme negative opinions towards the British. Tipu Sultan refers to the British as “wicked” and “abject”, which emphasizes the author’s dissatisfaction with the British East India Company. Because the audience of this document is a Mughal emperor and not a British, the author is more honest with his opinions. Moreover, the author reveals his rejection of Christianity, which emphasizes the Muslim descent of India, especially the Mughal Empire. When Babur, who was a Muslim, came from Central Asia to India in 1526, he established the Mughal Dynasty two years later. Not only Babur but Akbar the Great in the 16th century also encouraged Islam to Indians. The conflict between Islam and Christianity may have influenced the Indian ruler’s reluctance and hostility towards the British. Lastly, an official of the East India Company gives his view on the ally with India in 1832 (document 4). He has an negative view, emphasizing how the ally has only short term benefits, but in the long term, it will harm the British. Considering he is a European and Social Darwinism, which made Europeans think of other races as lowly, was popular during the 19th century, the author might have a biased view, disdaining the Indian states. He concerns about the possible rebellion towards the British, which actually occurs in 1857. Sepoy Mutiny was a violent uprising of the Indians against the British East India Company. This led to the abolition of the East India Company in favor of the direct rule of India by the British government. Thus, in documents 2,3,4 reveal the British limiting some rulers of Indian states’ power to rule independently from the British, which led to the rulers and the subjects’ discontent, ultimately resulting in violent rebellions against the British.