Lord Amherst: The 1st Earl and Governor General of India

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Lord Amherst

Lord Amherst was born on 14 January 1773 and died on 13 March 1857. His full name was William Pitt Amherst. He was not only a British diplomat but also a colonial administrator. Moreover, he founded the Sanskrit College in 1824 in Calcutta. He took over the Governorship of India in 1823 and continued till 1828. Lord Amherst was considered a man of peace and was selected as a governor of India after a mission in China in 1816, which was led by him. 

lord amherst
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Also Read: Complete List Of Governor General Of India

Background Life of Lord Amherst

Before Lord Amherst came to India, he had earned quite a reputation for himself. Let’s have a look at his life background before coming to India. 

  • Lord Amherst was first posted as a British Commander in America from 1758 to 1763. 
  • In 1797, he succeeded the Baronian title of his uncle. 
  • He was sent to China’s Qing dynasty in 1816 to improve the trade relations between China and the United Kingdom. 
  • He was asked to perform ‘Kowtow’ to be allowed entry to the court to which he refused and hence was denied entry. 
  • On his return journey, his ship was wrecked and he ended up meeting Napolean by the time the aid arrived. 
  • Napoleon warned him that China was a sleeping giant and that it should be let sleep.
  • He was also promised that his mission to India would be peaceful and no wars would be involved.

Also Read: Cripps Mission: Proposals, Significance & Failure   

Important Events During His Governorship in India

As he entered the country as the governor-general, he was welcomed by the unrest in the Bengal region. Here is what happened next. 

Annexation of Assam

  • The Burmese forces attacked Arakan, a region in the province of Bengal in British India. 
  • After sending some unsuccessful peaceful proposals, lord Amherst declared war on Burma. 
  • The war concluded in 1826 with the victory of the British and the Treaty of Yandaboo was signed.
  • Assam was annexed to the British according to this treaty. 
  • The Cachar Kingdom and Upper Assam were also annexed in British territories later on.
  • Between 1838 and 1839, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Nagaland, and Mizoram were all annexed into British rule. 
  • As a result of all this Assam tea manufacturing greatly flourished. 

The Barrackpore Mutiny

The British fiddled too much with the Indian social taboos resulting in the Barrackpore mutiny. Here is what it was about.

  • Some native Bengali infantry soldiers were told to march to Chittagong and board a ship destined for Rangoon. 
  • The Hindus considered the sea Kaala Pani and travelling through it was a taboo for them. 
  • They didn’t even have bullocks to transport material to Chittagong. 
  • Soldiers decided to not march unless their pay was increased and a means to transport their luggage was provided. 
  • The soldiers got away under the leadership of their companion ‘Binda’ when their demands were unfulfilled. 
  • British proposed a compromise deal to the sepoys which was refused by them. 
  • As a result, the British launched a full-scale attack on the Indian sepoys killing approximately 200. 

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