Malay Archipelago (Maritime Southeast Asia): ° Bangladesh ° India ° Indonesia ° Malacca Strait ° Malaysia ° Maldives ° Myanmar (Burma) ° Pakistan ° Philippines ° Riau Islands ° Singapore ° Sri Lanka ° Thailand ° Timor
° Andaman and Nicobar Islands ° Bengal ° Bombay (Mumbai) ° Calcutta ° Cawnpore ° Delhi ° Gujarat ° Indore ° Jodhpur ° The Konkan Coast (Goa) ° Madras (now Chennai) ° Patna (Bihar) ° Tellicherry ° Varkala
The Bengali name Kalikata was used for a village as early as the 15th century, but the area was little more than a village before the British established the British East India Company in the area.
In 1690 Job Charnock, an agent of the British East India Company, established a trading fort nearby. The British called the settlement Calcutta, an Anglicized version of Kalikata. The British established Fort William to protect their trade in the city of Calcutta, in the region of Bengal. The Nawab of Bengal, Siraj Ud Daulah, laid siege to the fort. It was a bloody battle, ending with corpses from the garrison being thrown into a ditch, which became known as the "Black Hole of Calcutta."
Still, because of the fortunes to be made by bringing spices into Europe, trade continued.
In the 17th and 18th centuries, both the Dutch and the English East India Company regularly had to field the complaint that their eastern traffic was beggaring the country. In England the matter was repeatedly raised in Parliament, where the East India Company had to defend itself from the charge of putting the country's scarce capital to flight for the sake of spices. The issue was especially acute for the English, since aside from a strictly limited amount of pepper smuggled out from under the eyes of the Dutch in India or squeezed from the malaria-plagued Sumatran port of Benkulen, all of England's spices arrived via middlemen. For this reason, in 1662, King Charles II issued a proclamation forbidding the purchase of cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and mace from parties other than the producers themselves a measure aimed at the Dutch. Eventually, this was forgotten.
In 1857, the American clipper James Baines, Captain Charles MacDonald, loaded a cargo in Calcutta consisting of 2,200 bales of jute, 6213 bales of linseed, 6,682 bags of rice, and 40 bales of cowhides for delivery to Liverpool, England. In Liverpool, when the stevedores removed the lower hatches, volumes of smoke poured from the afterpart of the main hold and were unable to stop the fire. The James Baines was scuttled, the main and mizen masts fell, crushing the roofs of the dock sheds; then the foremast came down, and by evening the ship was burnt to the water's edge. The sudden end of this powerful clipper, considered one of Donald McKay's finest creations, stunned Liverpool, was spoken of as a national disaster, and Captain McDonald did not long survive his ship: He retired broken-hearted to the cottage of his widowed mother at Glengarriff, contracted pneumonia, and died some days later.
November 9, 1857, Daily Alta California, San Francisco, California, U.S.A.
Remonstrance of Calcutta Merchants Against the East India Company
At a meeting of merchants and others at Calcutta, held on the 3d of August. Sir A. D. H. Larpent in the chair, the annexed petition to the Home Legislature was adopted:
Petition of the British Inhabitants of Calcutta to the Lords and Commons of Great Britain and Ireland in Parliament asembled.
The humble peition of the undersigned British inhabitants of Calcutta most humbly showeth:
That they do not despair of its speedy reconquest by the forces of her Majesty, but it is undenialile that, with the exception of three or four places of strength, the whole of the northwest provinces, as well as the newly acquired kingdom of Oude, is lost for the present. In addition to which Tirhoot, Behar, and Chota Nagpore are in danger.
Throughout India the native belief in the prestige of British power has been destroyed, and where the Asiatic has no dread of physical force he has no respect for moral influence.
Over thousands of square miles, where three months since Englishmen travelled in security unarmed, at this moment European women for themselves and children court speedy death as a blessing. On every highway lie the dishonored and mutilated remains of our countrywomen and their children, and the bodies of British soldiers and unarmed men foully murdered.
The government of the East India Company, to whose care the interests of Great Britain in the East have been confided, possess from their constitution absolute power. They have a perpetual majority in the Legislative Council, which is composed entirely of official persons. They have the sole appointment to all offices, with the exception only of those of the Governor the Commander-in-Chief and the Judges of the Supreme Court. There are no private or corporate rights that can be effectually opposed to them, nor is there any representation of public opinion.
In the country desolated by the rebels there are hundred of civil servants, judges, magistrates, and collectors, village chowkedars and policemen in tens of thousands, and more than 2,000 commissioned military officers European and native; and yet, if we may believe the government, there was not in all this vast establishment to be found one person to acquaint the authorities of the existence of a conspiracy, spread over countries many times larger than the area of the British Isles, and in which upward of a hundred thousand soldiers have joined.
The rebellion broke out, and found the government totally unprepared. No efficient commissariat, no organized means of procuring intelligence, and, with a few brilliant exceptions, do men of sufficient capacity for the emergency. At the commencement of the outbreak, Delhi, the largest arsenal of ordnance in the northwest of India; the important military depot of Cawnpore, and the fortress and arsenal of Allahabad, teh key of the Lower Provinces, were without a single European soldier to defend them. The two former fell into the hands of the insurgents.
On the 25th of May last, when a number of regiments were in open revolt; when many treasuries had been plundered, and various important stations fallen into the hands of the rebels the Secretary to the Home Department officially informed the inhabitants of Calcutta, in answer to loyal addresses tendering aid and personal service, that "the mischief caused by a passing and groundless panic had already been arrested, and that there was every reason to hope that in the course of a few days tranquility and confidence would be restored throughout the Presidency."
From that hour to the present the policy of Government has not undergone the slightest change. In the teeth of events the most startling, in defiance of warnings the most emphatic, they steadily persisted in ignoring the fact of danger for which they had made no preparation. On the 13th of June they passed a lw which destroyed the liberty of tie press, and placed every journal in India at the absolute feet ol the executive authority.
Your petitioners refrain from here commenting on this act of the Government, uncalled for by the occasion, repugnant to British feeling and subversive of the principles of the British Constitution. This was done at a time when the Government were receiving universal support from the English portion of the press.
Your petitioners feel themselves bitterly aggrieved by the attempted imposition of what is known as the Black Act, but their feelings in that respect never hindered them for a moment in commg forward to assist the Government with heart and hand. Their offers were coldly declined, though ultimately accepted, when danger was too apparent. At the present moment, not only does Calcutta owe its chief security to European volunteers, but Government have invited the enrollment of paid corps for service in the interior.
Shah Allum Mogul of Hindostan
The whole trade of the Presidency has suffered more or less; many branches of it are ruined entirely. The sale of imports is almost nominal; the cotton goods of England are not to be disposed of even at great sacrifices. The export of silk, indigo and sugar, and other articles of export will suffer considerable diminution, for some seasons to come, in consequence of the destruction of many factories and the loss of much capital.
In the train of the revolt, it is more than probably that famine, with all its Indian horrors, will follow. To remedy all these evils, and to fix on a trmer basin the British power in the list, your petitioners can alone appeal to the British nation. Your petitioners can look for no redress to the powers to whom the government of this great country is delegated; they have shown themselves unequal to the task.
The Government of the East India Company have neither men, money nor credit; what credit they had was destroyed by their conduct in the late financial operations. The army has dissolved itself the treasuries have either been plundered by the rebels or exhausted by the public service, adn a loan, even at six percent, would scarcely find subscribers.
When tranquUity is once restored, her Majesty's Ministers will find that many millions sterling have been added to the Indian debt, and that the annual deficits of the Indian budget will be materially increased; but under good government your petitioners have the fullest confidence that the boundless resources of this vast country are sufficient to meet all necessary demands of the State. The system under which the country has been hitherto governed, utterly antagonistic as it has ever been to the encouragement cf British settlement and enterprise in India, has entirely failed to preserve the power of the Queen, to win the affections of the natives, or to secure the confidence of the British in India.
Your petitioners therefore, humbly pray that your honorable House will adopt such measures at may be necessary for removing the government of this country from the East India Company, and substituting in its place the direct government of her Majesty the Queen, with an open Legislative Council, writable to the requirements of the country and compatible with the British supremacy; Queen's courts, presided over by trained lawyers, with the English language as the official court language. And your petitioners will every pray, Uc.
Calcutta, August 3, 1857
August 15, 1863, Allens Indian Mail,, London, United Kingdom
THE BRITISH EAST INDIA STEAM NAVIGATION COMPANY have been no less unfortunate than their magnificent rival. The S. S. Sydney, lately purchased from Government, sailed from Calcutta on Wednesday the 24th June, having on board some 540 men, women, and children, belonging to the regiment of Sikh Pioneers, bound for Colombo. But no sooner did she fairly get out to sea than her total unfitness to be employed on such service was proved beyond a doubt. Between decks the water was frequently knee deep, and not a berth in the whole ship that might not have served as a bath. The misery of the poor soldiers, and their still more helpless wives and little ones, was truly pitiable, but they bore up manfully through their sickness, and worked at the pumps night and day. The greatest fear entertained was lest the fires should be put out, the danger of which was more than once very imminent; however, by constant exertions and by throwing a portion of her cargo overboard, she was kept afloat, and late on Saturday evening passed Saugor on her return to Calcutta.
Calcutta: A Cultural History
Krishna Dutta, Author; Anita Desai, Foreword.
In the popular imagination, Calcutta is a packed and pestilential sprawl, made notorious by the Black Hole and the works of Mother Teresa, Kipling called it a City of Dreadful Night, and a century later V.S. Naipaul, Gunter Grass, and Louis Malle revived its hellish image. This is the place where the West first truly encountered the East. Founded in the 1690s by East India Company merchants beside the Hugli River, Calcutta grew into India's capital and the second city of the British Empire during the Raj.
Come Be My Light
The Private Writings of the Saint of Calcutta
Mother Teresa. Brian Kolodiejchuk, Editor
Kolodiejchuk, a Catholic priest and friend of Mother Teresa’s who is actively promoting her cause for sainthood, assembleds an impressive collection of her writings, most of which have never been read by the public. Two themes shine through in Mother Teresa’s letters: her absolute conviction that she was doing God’s will, and a deep and surprising chasm of darkness within her that some would call the dark night of the soul. In her quest to found the Missionaries of Charity, Mother Teresa aggressively pursued approval from her bishop, fully confident that God desired this work to be done. “If I ever become a Saint–I will surely be one of 'darkness.' I will continually be absent from Heaven–to light the light of those in darkness on earth.” – Mother Teresa of Calcutta
Empire of the Sikhs: The Life and Times of Maharaja Ranjit Singh
Ranjit Singh was one of the most powerful and charismatic Indian rulers of his age, but has been largely forgotten by recent Western historians. Yet his achievements have had a lasting impact. He unified the warring chiefdoms of the Punjab in a northern Empire of the Sikhs, built up a formidable modern army, kept the British in check to the south, and closed the Khyber Pass through which plunderers had for centuries poured into India. He was also humane and just in his victories, giving employment to defeated foes, and honored religious faiths other than his own. This biography uses a variety of eye-witness accounts from Indian and European sources to chronicle his life and the controversial period of the Anglo-Sikh Wars following his death.
Storm and Conquest: The Clash of Empires in the Eastern Seas, 1809
The Indian Ocean was the final battleground for Nelson’s navy and France. At stake was Britain’s commercial lifeline to India and its strategic capacity to wage war in Europe. In one fatal season, the natural order of maritime power since Trafalgar was destroyed. In bringing home Bengali saltpeter for the Peninsular campaign with military and civilian passengers, Britain lost fourteen of her great Indiamen, either sunk or taken by enemy frigates. Many hundreds of lives were lost, and the East India Company was shaken to its foundations. The focus of these disasters, military and meteorological, was a tiny French outpost in mid-ocean the island known as Mauritius. This is the story of that season. It brings together the terrifying ordeal of men, women, and children caught at sea in hurricanes, and those who survived to take up the battle to drive the French from the Eastern seas. Mauritius must be taken at any cost.