Black Hole of Calcutta II

Lead: The world first heard of the Black Hole of Calcutta in a sensational account of the tragedy by John Zephaniah Holwell.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Last time we noted that he was the temporary commandant of the British Garrison appointed after the Governor fled downstream to a safe anchorage. Holwell described the night of June 20, 1756 as one of unspeakable horror. In a 18 by 15 foot cell, 146 European men women and children fought for survival during one of the hottest nights of the year. Some were already wounded and, if one fell down, they would almost certainly be trampled to death. The air was foul and they began to vomit all over each other. Discipline was lost and panic moved in waves across the crowd.  

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Black Hole of Calcutta I

Lead: Often the interpretation of a story is as interesting as the story itself. Take for instance, the interpretation of the Black Hole of Calcutta.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: Historians are not machines into which facts are thrust and from which history emerges unsullied by confusion or bias. They are humans who often struggle without enthusiasm against their own prejudice. Therefore, it is helpful, from time to time to study an event as others have studied it.  

For the better part of the eighteenth century, Britain's presence in the sub-continent of India was maintained by the East India Company. The main purpose of that company of course was trade not political control, but often trade brings conflict. Local merchants resented British intrusion and local rulers often felt threatened by the influx of traders. Soldiers, usually mercenaries, were used to protect the trading bases and at times to keep the natives in line.

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