India in 1818
The year 1818 marks a watershed in the history of British India. In that year the British dominion in India became the British dominion of India. India was unified again in a way it had not been from at least 1750. Subsequent annexations were mere additions to a whole and did not radically alter the situation. India was a political entity once more. The unity, it is true, was external and political only. It was the events of the next hundred years which were to transform that external bond, by a process unique in the history of India, into an organic union of minds and cultures. This point in time is therefore a convenient moment to take stock of the situation, to note the position of India at the end of her "time of troubles" and the nature of the administration which now controlled her life.
The political settlement of 1818 was determined by the fortunes of the campaign against the Pindaris, which placed the Peshwa's dominions in the Company's hands, by the Company's determination to secure effective control of all India up to the Sutlej, and by its equal anxiety to limit its administrative responsibilities as far as was compatible with safety. The subsidiary treaties had been a success in binding princes to the British side and their long-term defects were not realized. The same authority which eschewed Indian agency within its own territories therefore welcomed it in the form of dependent states. Effective control of land was recognized as conferring a title to rule. Not only Rajput chiefs with lineage of a thousand years, but the freebooter Amir Khan, partner till the last moment with the Pindaris, and robber chiefs who had established themselves in a locality and would be expensive to dislodge found themselves recognized as dependent Indian princes. It was in this way that the princely order of British India of some six hundred and fifty chiefs, large and small, was established. In effect the political fragmentation of 1818 was "put on ice," and there it remained