India: Dalhousie’s Colonial Imperative

India was the jewel in Britain’s crown during the 19th century, and its colonial rulers were eager to impose their dominion over the subcontinent. The railroads were vital to this process and were brought to India by the British East India Company—effectively a commercial arm of the British government. The first Indian railroad, which ran from the company settlement of Bombay, was commercial in aim, prompted by events on the other side of the world: the American cotton harvest had failed in 1846, and this spurred the cloth manufacturers of Manchester to use India as an alternative source of cotton. However, in order to ensure the steady supply needed to keep their factories running, transportation to the ...

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