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Bhuyan, Surrya Kumar (1938) East India Company's relations with Assam, 1771 to 1826. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI:

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An attempt has been made in this book to give a connected account of the relations of the East India Company with Assam from 1771 to 1826. The two dates from natural limits of those relations, for in the year 1771 the Court of Directors first accepted the desirability of establishing commercial intercourse with Assam and instructed the Government of Fort William in Bengal to adopt the necessary measures, while in the year 1826 Assam passed into the hands of the Company by the Treaty of Yandaboo, concluded on the termination of the war with the Burmese who had acquired possession of the country four years before. During the intervening period the relations had become progressively closer owing, in the first stage, 1771-1789, to the Company's desire to find a market in Assam for its staples, specially for salt; and in the second, 1789-1822, to the anxiety of the Assam government to obtain the Company's assistance to suppress the depredations of the Bengal Burkendazes, of the rebellious Moamarias and of the predatory Singphows, and later to expel the Burmese invaders.;Several experiments were made in the earlier period to regulate the trade between Bengal and Assam. Hugh Baillie was appointed in 1774 to reside at Goalpara, bordering on Assam, in order to promote the sale of Company's goods; but he could not achieve much success on account of the jealousy of other merchants and the mistrust created in the minds of the Assamese by their oppressive conduct. In 1780 the Bengal Government granted the exclusive privilege of the Assam trade to David Killican, with Baillie as his agent; but the Court of Directors annulled it before it had had a fair trial. In 1787 Baillie was appointed superintendent of the trade, but he had to withdraw in 1970 in consequence of the disturbances then raging in Assam.;The government of Assam being unable to cope with its troubles petitioned the Company for military assistance. Lord Cornwallis sent a detachment under the command of Captain Welsh who succeeded to some extent in composing the disorders, in restoring the authority of the Assam Raja and in making certain commercial stipulations. But it was prematurely recalled by the new Governor-General Sir John Shore who an advocate of this policy of non-intervention in the affairs of the native powers. This policy of neutrality was maintained by the Company in its subsequent relations with Assam with the result that the dissensions and strifes became intensified till the Burmese, who had been originally introduced by one of the contending parties, overran the country and ultimately subjugated it in 1822. The conquest of Assam stimulated Burmese designs against the British who, in anticipation, marched troops into Assam and expelled the invaders from that country in 1824-1825.;The task of the first British administrators was comparatively difficult as they had to undo the effects of the ravages of the preceding period, and as no substantial reform could be introduced owing to the possibility of the whole or a part of Assam being restored to a native prince. The problem was, moreover, complicated by the difficulty of communications, the turbulence of the frontier tribes, the discontent of the Assamese nobles, and the paucity of British officers. But the genius of David Scott, the first Commissioner of Assam, 1825-1831, was equal to the occasion, and he was able to lay the foundation of those administrative institutions which provided the structure to be enlarged and improved upon by his successors. The conclusions rest upon a study of both the Assamese sources and the records of the East India Company which, it is believed, have been examined in their entirety for the first time.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses > Proquest
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 16 Oct 2018 15:29

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