Mohandas Gandhi sentenced to prison for civil disobedience

One would be pressed to come up with a person more resolute that “Mahatma” (“Great Soul”) Mohandas Gandhi. The man was committed to make India independent of British rule. More remarkably, he was committed to attaining that independence through only nonviolent acts. He knew the British authorities would come after him. He expected they would. In a sense he almost wanted them to try it, because his martyrdom would rouse the Indian public for his cause. On all accounts, Gandhi was right.

On this day, March 18, in 1922, after a Gandhi-authored pamphlet entitled “Young India” incited riots and bloodshed, the British government finally had enough – Gandhi was tried on charges of plotting against the government and sentenced to six years in prison.

By then, Gandhi’s work and demeanor were well respected, even by the trial judge. He pronounced his sentence almost apologetically, acknowledging “[Y]ou are in a different category from any person I have ever tried or am likely ever to try.” Noting that the law makes it impossible for Gandhi to stand unpunished for his acts, the judge nevertheless concluded “if the course of events in India should make it possible for Government  to reduce the period and release you, nobody would be better pleased than I.”