The Life of Gandhi

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Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was born in Porbandar, India on October 2nd, 1869. When he was 7, he became engaged to Katsurbai Makanji. When he was 14 he married her. Gandhi's father, Karamchand, died two years later in 1885. After receiving his primary education in India, Gandhi left for India in 1888 to study law at the Inner Temple. He passed the English Bar Exam on June 10, 1891, and returned to India to practice law.

After his Indian law practice failed, he spent a year in South Africa, starting in April of 1983. There, he founded the Natal Indian Congress, an organization that fought for Indian rights in South Africa. In 1896, he brought his family from India to South Africa. When the Boer War broke out in 1899, he organized an ambulance corps for Britain.

Gandhi went back to India in 1901 to attend the Indian National Congress. There, the great Indian politician G.K. Gokhale introduced him to several Nationalist leaders. Working with these nationalist leaders, Gandhi then founded a newspaper called The Indian Opinion.

In 1907, the Boer Republic Transvaal, under control of the British, attempted to register every Indian as a member. Gandhi and a few others refused to register. This was the first use of non-violent protest by the small number of Indians in South Africa. This group soon came to be called Satyagraha, or soul force. In 1908, Gandhi was arrested twice, and served a total of three months in jail.

In 1909, Gandhi traveled to London to fight for the rights of South African Indians. Because of his efforts, the Transvaal registration law was repealed. In 1913, Gandhi marched with 2000 Indian miners from Natal to the Transvaal in protest of laws about marriage and a racist poll tax. Gandhi was arrested three times in four days.

This march ended on June 30, 1914, when Gandhi and Jan Christian Smuts, the prime minister of Transvaal reached an agreement. On July 18, Gandhi left South Africa and sailed to India, and received an extremely warm and appreciative welcome from the people of India.

When Gandhi, now age 45, returned to India in 1914, he established a Satyagraha community near Ambahad for his family and his followers to live in with him. He and his followers aided the cause of Indian peasants and mill workers, and in 1918 he undertook his first fast.

At first, Gandhi was not against British control of India, and even helped recruit Indians to fight for Britain in WWI. However, when the British passed the Rowlatt act to curtail the civil liberties of Indians during wartime, Gandhi planned his first all India Satyagraha campaign in 1919. Indians protested non-violently by the thousands, and held a day of fasting and prayer on April 6th.

However, some Indians resorted to mob violence to protest the Rowlatt act, and on April 13, 1919 British troops under General Dyer used machine guns to kill 379 Indians. This event came to be known as the Amristar massacre, and it changed Gandhi from a supporter of the British to a determined opponent.

In 1920, Gandhi started the second all Indian Satyagraha. He urged a boycott of British cloth and told the Indians to weave their own clothes. He was arrested in 1920 for sedition and sentenced to six years in prison. Gandhi was let free two years early in 1924.

Upon his release, he was chosen to be president of the Indian National Congress. During his time as president, he focused more on his writings than on politics. He was, however, still a little politically active. He switched between Satyagraha campaigns and his "constructive program", which was a movement against untouchability in the caste system. He also fought for women's rights, education, prohibition, home and village industries and personal hygiene. He wrote about his beliefs in his weekly paper.

In 1929, the Indian National Congress fixed January 26 as National Independence Day, and that day Gandhi published the Declaration of Independence of India. Gandhi also became the...
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