First Anglo-Maratha War (1775-82)
Marathas were largely remained disunited since the Third Battle of Panipet
(1761). The internal conflict among the Marathas was best utilized by the
British in their expansionist policy. In 1775, there was a dispute for the post
of Peshwa between Madhav Rao and his uncle Ragunatha Rao. The British
authorities in Bombay concluded the Treaty of Surat with Raghunatha Rao in
March 1775. Rahunatha Rao promised to cede Bassein and Salsette to the British
but later when he was unwilling to fulfill his promise, the British captured
them. This action of the Bombay Government was not approved by Warren Hastings.
In 1776, Warren Hastings sent Colonel Upton to settle the issue. He cancelled
the Treaty of Surat and concluded
the Treaty of Purander with Nana
Fadnavis, another Maratha leader. According to this treaty Madhava Rao II was
accepted as the new Peshwa and the British retained Salsette along with a heavy
the Home authorities rejected the Treaty of Purander. Warren Hastings also
considered the Treaty of Purandar as a 'scrap of paper' and sanctioned
operations against the Marathas. In the meantime, the British force sent by the
Bombay Government was defeated by the Marathas.
Warren Hastings dispatched British troops under the command of Captain Popham.
He defeated the Maratha chief, Mahadaji Scindia, in a number of small battles
and captured Gwalior.
Later in May 1782, the Treaty of Salbai was signed between Warren Hastings and Mahadaji
Scindia. Accordingly, Salsette and Bassein were given to the British. Raghunath
Rao was pensioned off and Madhav Rao II was accepted as the Peshwa.
The Treaty of Salbai established the British
influence in Indian politics. It provided the British twenty years of peace
with the Marathas. The Treaty also enabled the British to exert pressure on
Mysore with the help of the Marathas in recovering their territories from
Haider Ali. Thus, the British, on the one hand, saved themselves from the
combined opposition of Indian powers and on the other, succeeded in dividing the