Lakshmibai, The Warrior Queen Who Fought British Rule in India | Atlas Obscura

In the early uprisings against the British Raj in India, a new kind of freedom fighter emerged: a rebel warrior queen who led her troops into pitched battles for independence. The rani of Jhansi was one of the leading figures in the Indian Rebellion of 1857 and a symbol of resistance against the British. What’s more, she was a total badass.

The rani, or Hindu queen, was born in the holy town of Varanasi sometime around 1828, and was given the name Manikarnika –”mistress of jewels.” From an early age, she is said to have had several tomboyish tendencies. Her mother died when she was only a toddler. As a result, Manikarnika was brought up in the court of a chief minister, the Peshwa, where her father was an advisor. She was educated alongside the boys in the Peshwa’s court, and so learned skills unusual for…

Source: Lakshmibai, The Warrior Queen Who Fought British Rule in India | Atlas Obscura

A protest at sea: The boat that challenged Canadian immigration law

Organizer Gurdit Singh Sandhu (front left) and other passengers pose for a photo. IMAGE: LEONARD FRANK/VANCOUVER PUBLIC LIBRARY

In 1908, the Canadian government passed an order-in-council which prohibited the immigration of people who did not “come from the country of their birth or citizenship by a continuous journey and or through tickets purchased before leaving their country of their birth or nationality.

”This “continuous journey” regulation was a masked attempt to restrict the entrance of immigrants arriving from India, a lengthy journey which necessarily included a stopover in Hawaii or Japan at the time.

The exclusionary law faced several legal challenges and was amended a few times. Its most high-profile controversy came in 1914, when Gurdit Singh Sandhu decided to challenge it directly. Singh was a Punjabi man who had become…

Source: A protest at sea: The boat that challenged Canadian immigration law

The White Man’s Burden | e-Tinkerbell

When Theodore Roosevelt read  Rudyard Kipling‘s poem: “The White Man’s Burden: The United States and The Philippine Islands”, he was so very favourably impressed that he copied the poem and sent it to his friend Senator Henry Cabot Lodge with the following comment : “rather poor poetry, but good sense from the expansion point of view“. The publication of the poem in McClure’s Magazine in February 1899  coincided with the beginning of the Philippine-American War and U.S. Senate ratification of the treaty that placed Puerto Rico, Guam, Cuba, and the Philippines under American control. In his poem Kipling invited the U.S: to take up the “burden” of the empire, as Britain and other European nations had done. Kipling thought that the white man had the duty to help the less fortunate peoples of the empire and the goodness of their civilizing mission would have crushed any resented opposition even if, choosing the word “burden” to define this glorious accomplishment, Kipling somehow underlined that it was not such a simple task. More than one hundred years after the publication of this poem…

Source: The White Man’s Burden | e-Tinkerbell

The Bibighar Massacre: The Darkest Days of the Indian Rebellion of 1857 | Mimi Matthews

Monument erected at Cawnpore at the Site of the Bibighar Well. (Image via Leiden University)

The Indian Rebellion of 1857 began on May 10th with a small-scale mutiny of sepoys in the town of Meerut, in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh.  Sepoys were the native, Indian soldiers who served in the army of the British East India Company.  This initial rebellion against British rule sparked similar uprisings throughout India.  Amongst these, none had such horrifyingly tragic results as the June 1857 sepoy mutiny in the town of Cawnpore (now Kanpur), which culminated with the senseless, mass killing of hundreds of British women and children who had been confined inside a small house known as the Bibighar.

(*Warning: This article contains some graphic details of the 1857 Bibighar Massacre and aftermath.  If such details might disturb you, I encourage you to skip this post.)

Major General Sir Hugh Wheeler was the British commander at Cawnpore at the time of the mutiny.  When the Sepoys besieged the town, he expected…

Source: The Bibighar Massacre: The Darkest Days of the Indian Rebellion of 1857 | Mimi Matthews


This vintage real photo postcard features an Indian man selling coconuts out of a basket at a market in India. He is holding a coconut on his knee while he intensely stares at the camera. The postcard was published by…


Illustrated London News May 15, 1943—General Alexander



A second triumph has come to General Alexander; with Montgomery in the field, he planned the campaign that started at El Alamein, and now, as chief strategist of the Tunisian campaign, he has used the men of the Eighth Army, the First Army, the Second American Corps and the Corps d’Afrique with brilliant results. He has completely out-generalled von Arnim and helped to bring about the repaying of the Dunkirk debt.  General Alexander was appointed C.-in-C., Middle East, in 1942, after fighting, as G.O.C., Burma, the brilliant delaying action which saved India by giving us time to reorganise. It was he, too, who was in command at last on the beaches of Dunkirk, and on that occasion as well, no  little credit is due to him as a master strategist. Now these bitter memories will be wiped out, and he has the satisfaction of knowing the enemy are suffering the same as our men at Dunkirk.

Reading the above, which is from my original edition of The Illustrated London News, 15th May 1943, the one thing that strikes me above all is the clue the last sentence gives about the reality of Dunkirk. Only the brain-dead would not have realised that that episode of the war had been an unmitigated disaster.

© Sarah Vernon

Jinnah: Hero or Villain?

Muhammad Ali Jinnah and the Pakistani flag.

Quite possibly, Muhammad Ali Jinnah may be one of the most historically ambiguous figures of the twentieth century. He is maligned by his opposition almost more than he is adored by his followers. In fact, in a day and age when Pakistan struggles with accusations of being ‘the terror factory of the world’ many Pakistanis themselves begin to doubt their founder. And yet, they continue to call him ‘Quaid-E-Azam’ which in literal translation means ‘The Great Leader’. The Partition was a division of India into two independent countries and resulted in a mass movement of people on a scale the world had never seen before. Indian Muslims rushed to go to a country which seemed to be the promise of a new future and Pakistani Hindus and Sikhs headed in the opposite way for India. Needless to say, it caused unprecedented violence and misery.

The question is, despite being blamed as the sole cause of the Partition massacres by many Indian historians, why does a man like Jinnah still hold a unique place in the heart of…

Source: Jinnah: Hero or Villain?

Ace History News | SNIPPETS OF HISTORY NEWS: Fanny Bullock Workman one of the first female Professional Mountaineer’s

Originally posted on Ace History News.

Fanny Bullock Workman (1859–1925) was an American geographer, cartographer, explorer, travel writer, and mountaineer, notably in the Himalayas. She was one of the first female professional mountaineers; she not only explored but also wrote about her adventures.

She set several women’s altitude records, published eight travel books with her husband, and championed women’s rights and women’s suffrage. Educated in the finest schools available to women, she was introduced to climbing in New Hampshire. She married William Hunter Workman, and traveled the world with him. The couple had two children, but left them in schools and with nurses. Workman saw herself as…

via Ace History News | SNIPPETS OF HISTORY NEWS: Fanny Bullock Workman one of the first female Professional Mountaineer’s .

Partition 1947 – The Voices Across The Bitter Borders

The Human Lens

0,,16501803_303,00One of the greatest tragedies of the Indo-Pakistan relationship has significant roots into the people’s polarization during British controlled India. There is not enough ink to bleed for writing on the damage partition has done to our people. While the British held on to subcontinent called otherwise in history as “Jewel in the Crown” they only let it go until there was no choice left.

As a south asian and Muhajir Pakistani who has her origins on other side of the border-India; despite taking deep pride in my country and its independence my emotions don’t over shed the negatives of subcontinent separation and how it happened. The violent way we were divided continues to overshadow both our nations’ future and that of its people. Permit me to say that millions still grieve, we could separate but minus the violence. Inside this great land; the Hindus, Sikhs, Muslims, Jains, Christians etc…

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Suez Canal: It Will Never Work


The disaster of the Indian mutiny in 1857 and the delays in getting news of it made people consider ways of improving contact between Europe and Asia. But when a ship canal in Suez was suggested, Lord Palmerston responded:

“For the last 15 years Her Majesty’ Government have used all the influence they possess at Constantinople and in Egypt to prevent that scheme from being carried into execution. It is an undertaking which, I believe, in point of commercial character, may be deemed to rank among the many bubble schemes that from time to time have been palmed upon gullible capitalists. I have been informed, on what I believe to be reliable authority, that it is physically impracticable, except at an expense which would be far too great to warrant any expectation of any returns. ”

It was not that he minded investors getting heir fingers burned if they ignored…

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A Month of: This Day in History

Louise M. H. Miller; Around The Red Map.

On 17th June in 1631, Mumtaz Mahal dies during childbirth. In a display of love and grief her husband Mughal emperor Shah Jahan I spent the next 17 years beuilding her mausoleum – the now iconic Taj Mahal. The white marble mausloeum is situated on the southern bank of the Yamuna River in Agra, India.

The Taj Mahal is regarded by many as the best example of Mughal architecture and is widely recognized as “the jewel of Muslim art in India”. Today is one of the most celebrated structures and a symbol of India’s rich history. It attracts some 3 million visitors a year and has been designated a UNESCO World Hertiage Site in 1983.


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Fanny Williams and the Amherst family of Kent

All Things Georgian

Amherst - Montreal Park from a 1777 engraving

FASHIONABLE ANECDOTE, at present only whispered in the POLITE CIRCLES.

Some years ago, the Lady of a noble Lord, who once held a high military post, and greatly distinguished himself in a former war, received a small basket by an unknown hand, which, on being opened, was found to contain a female child, with a letter addressed to the lady, written in a female hand, expressing the high opinion the writer entertained of her Ladyship’s liberality, and particularly from personal knowledge of her humanity. Appealing to it, for protection of the unknown infant, whose existence, with that of the mother’s, depended on her Ladyship.  A bank-note was inclosed for a considerable amount. The child was ordered to be taken all possible care of, and has been from that time attended and educated in no other manner than if she had been the daughter of the noble Lord and his Lady.


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The History Girls: “Sophia: Princess, Suffragette, Revolutionary” by Anita Anand.

Anita Anand’s “Sophia” tells the story of the youngest Princess of the royal ruling family of the Punjab. Yet this biography opens, not in India, but at a suffragette meeting in Caxton Hall, Westminster, on Friday 18th November 1910.

On the platform in the crowded hall sit the leading suffragettes: Emmeline Pankhurst, Elizabeth Garrett Anderson, Christabel Pankhurst and more. At the back of the stage was a small, dark-skinned figure dressed in Parisian couture. That small, fierce face belonged to Princess Sophia Duleep Singh, activist and suffragette.

Who was Sophia, and what was a young Indian woman doing there anyway?

The meeting ended with a march to the gates of Westminster, the mother of Parliaments. All that the women wanted was the right to vote but many thought that an irrational demand. The marchers – Sophia among them – were brutally attacked, groped and beaten by uniformed and undercover police as well as crowds of jeering onlookers. Sophia, witnessing a vicious beating, took down the constable’s number and wrote so many letters of complaint that Winston Churchill refused to reply any more. That was his only way of stopping the Princess. Sophia, the admirable subject of this book, was never one to step back when someone needed her help.

“Sophia” is a book that covers a span of history as much as it covers a single life. Born in 1876, Sophia had Queen Victoria as a godparent. By the time of Sophia’s…

Read original: The History Girls: “Sophia,: Princess, Suffragette, Revolutionary” by Anita Anand.