When the American Civil War broke out in 1861, raw cotton imports from America fell to 3% compared to earlier. This was a major problem for the British, as before the 1860s, three-fourths of raw cotton imports to Britain came from America. As the British frantically turned to India for raw cotton, the ryots in the Deccan country-side were suddenly given access to large amounts of credit. The Sahukars were further willing to extend long-term loans to the ryots. As a result, cotton production in the Deccan expanded. However, while some rich peasants gained money, for the large majority, it led to the heavier debt.
The rebel proclamations during the uprising of 1857 rejected all aspects of British rule (firangi raj). These proclamations spread fear among the population that the British wanted to destroy all aspects of Hinduism and Islam, and convert people to Christianity. As a result, people were urged to unite and fight together for the “greater public good”.
There were many proclamations also issued by Muslim princes (or in their name), and these were sensitive to Hindu sentiments. These ishtahars harked back to the Hindu-Muslim harmony prevalent before the coming of the British. The rebellion was seen as a war in which both Hindus and Muslims would both lose equally. Therefore, religious divisions were not noticeable during the uprising, in spite of British efforts to create communal divisions, such as in Bareilly in Uttar Pradesh, because both religions became united by a common cause.
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