Readings in Modern European History, Vol. 2

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Author: James Andrew Broun-Ramsay

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Accounts and Papers [Parliamentary] (East India; session: January 31-July 29, 1856), XLV, 597 sqq. World History

313.

English Reasons for Annexing Oudh (Condensed)

. . . It has been my anxious and earnest desire, ever since I assumed the government of India, to uphold the honor and dignity of your Majesty’s exalted station, to see the country, over which you rule, prosperous and flourishing, and the people, who are your subjects, happy and contented, in the enjoyment of peace and of all the blessings which flow from a wise, liberal, and beneficent administration. For eight years I have watched with much solicitude the progress of affairs in your Majesty’s kingdom, in the hope that the unceasing warnings and remonstrances addressed to your Majesty by my predecessors and by myself, and earnestly pressed upon your Majesty by the able and zealous officers who have held the office of Resident at your court, might have the effect of awakening your Majesty to a sense of the duties and responsibilities of your royal station, and of the solemn engagements imposed upon your Majesty’s government by the treaty of 1801.

The British will not tolerate misrule

It has now become my most painful duty to inform your Maiesty that the British government, influenced by a regard for its reputation among the nations, and still more by the obligations which, many years ago, it took upon itself in relation to the people of Oudh, can no longer lend its countenance and support to a government whose existence is the fruitful source of misrule, oppression, and misery to all who live under its control. . . .

Financial corruption

There is a strong body of concurrent testimony to prove that corruption reigns paramount in the fiscal department of your Majesty’s administration, even from the highest functionary to the lowest subordinate, and that, though your Majesty’s revenue receipts have been diminished, this has brought no relief to the Ryot, who is crushed by the weight of the exactions levied upon him to satisfy the arbitrary demands of your Majesty’s dishonest and unscrupulous servants. The same advices further tend to confirm the impression which has long rested on my mind, that your Majesty’s finances are in the last degree disordered and embarrassed. . . .

Inefficient police

Turning from the revenue administration and the financial condition of the kingdom, to the administration of civil and criminal justice, I find even a darker picture,—a state of things even more discreditable and injurious. Life and property are insecure on the roads and rivers, in the towns and villages. With the exception of the frontier police, which is under the direction of British officers and under the immediate control of the Resident, hardly any police force is maintained throughout your Majesty’s extensive dominions, and such establishments as do exist are, in the last degree, inefficient and corrupt; apt to seize and mulct the poor and the weak under false and frivolous pretexts, but powerless to restrain bad characters or to check the universal prevalence of heinous crime. . . .

The courts will not convict murderers

The corruption and servility of what are called courts of justice in your Majesty’s kingdom were flagrantly exemplified in the case of the murder of Ramdut Banday by Mahomed Husein, the Nawab of Bharaitch, who, in the face of the clearest proofs of his guilt, was acquitted by your Majesty’s court at Lucknow. . . .

At the present day the police management and the administration of criminal justice are as inefficient as ever. Criminals escape the penalty of their misdeeds; crime and violence of every complexion reign unrepressed throughout the length and breadth of the kingdom; and neither life nor property is secure. Week after week I receive reports of atrocious murders, of the wholesale destruction of villages by fire, and the enormous sacrifice of human life which attends such calamities; of daring and open robberies; of violence uncontrolled in every shape; and I am overwhelmed with sentiments of sorrow and commiseration for the people, who thus suffer from the weakness and the venality of your Maiesty’s administration.

Civil courts are corrupt

Not less corrupt, I grieve to add, are the courts of civil justice. These exist only in the capital, and there justice is openly bought and sold. Notwithstanding the earnest expostulations of the Resident, and notwithstanding your pledge to exclude singers and fiddlers from offices of trust and responsibility, your Majesty is known to have placed one of this obnoxious class in a position of actual authority over the civil courts. . . .

Warnings have been in vain

Wherefore, having maturely considered the course of events in Oudh since the treaty of 1801, and more particularly since your Majesty’s accession; having seen that every means of persuasion have been tried without effect; and having observed that advice, remonstrance, and warning have been exhausted in vain, I feel that the government of India, which I represent, would be guilty, in the sight of God and man, if it were any longer to aid in sustaining, by its countenance and power, an administration fraught with suffering to millions. . . .

I have charged Major General Outram, the Resident at your court (by whose hands this letter will be delivered to your Majesty), to declare the treaty of 1801 at an end. I have communicated to him my instructions relative to the course which, under the circumstances above explained to your Majesty, I deem it my indispensable duty to adopt for the purpose of restoring order to your kingdom, and thus vindicating the character of the British government in the eyes of the nations, as well as in the eyes of the suffering people of Oudh. . . .

If your Majesty should, unfortunately, determine to refuse these proposals, Major General Outram is charged to set before your Majesty the immediate and inevitable consequences which will follow upon your shortsighted and ill-advised determination.

DALHOUSIE

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Chicago: James Andrew Broun-Ramsay, "English Reasons for Annexing Oudh (Condensed)," Readings in Modern European History, Vol. 2 in Readings in Modern European History: A Collection of Extracts from the Sources Chosen With the Purpose of Illustrating Some of the Chief Phases of the Development of Europe During the Last Two Hundred Years, ed. James Harvey Robinson (1863-1936) and Charles A. Beard (Boston: Ginn and Company, 1908), 307–310. Original Sources, accessed February 4, 2023, http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=85GSR5PT5YGHAE3.

MLA: Broun-Ramsay, James Andrew. "English Reasons for Annexing Oudh (Condensed)." Readings in Modern European History, Vol. 2, in Readings in Modern European History: A Collection of Extracts from the Sources Chosen With the Purpose of Illustrating Some of the Chief Phases of the Development of Europe During the Last Two Hundred Years, edited by James Harvey Robinson (1863-1936) and Charles A. Beard, Vol. 2, Boston, Ginn and Company, 1908, pp. 307–310. Original Sources. 4 Feb. 2023. http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=85GSR5PT5YGHAE3.

Harvard: Broun-Ramsay, JA, 'English Reasons for Annexing Oudh (Condensed)' in Readings in Modern European History, Vol. 2. cited in 1908, Readings in Modern European History: A Collection of Extracts from the Sources Chosen With the Purpose of Illustrating Some of the Chief Phases of the Development of Europe During the Last Two Hundred Years, ed. , Ginn and Company, Boston, pp.307–310. Original Sources, retrieved 4 February 2023, from http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=85GSR5PT5YGHAE3.