How The English Conquest of Bengal Led to the American Revolution

A chain of events not often talked about

Grant Piper
7 min readMay 1


(Public domain)

In 1757, the shrewd British East India Company officer Robert Clive won a decisive battle in Bengal. The battle, known as the Battle of Plassey, was locally significant in that it essentially turned over control of the region to the British East India Company. This transfer of power from the local Mughal lords to the British ultimately laid the groundwork for the future British Raj. What people did not know at the time, and what people still fail to grasp, is that the Battle of Plassey reverberates through history to this very day.

In the wake of the battle, Robert Clive, who set himself up as governor of the territory after his victory, extracted a large sum of tribute from the defeated Bengali locals. The amount totaled 22,000,000 rupees to cover “British losses” and was to be paid immediately. It worked out to be worth millions of British pounds and heaps of gold and jewels. This treasure haul had multiple unintended consequences.

First, since Clive extracted the tribute on behalf of the British East India Company, the sum was recorded as revenue on the official books. This was a massive windfall for a company with dozens of public and private interests worldwide.

Second, Bengal was exceptionally far away from the halls of power in London and at the time, the East India Company was already acting as a defacto state within the British Empire. Access to Bengal with little oversight and heaps of money led to severe corruption on the ground in the territory.

In fact, when Clive returned to England to face inquiries about his conduct in Asia, he is said to have amassed a fortune of tens of millions of pounds (adjusted for today’s rates.)

The Battle of Plassey, combined with Clive’s corruption and the subsequent events, set off a chain reaction of events that eventually led to the British losing their American colonies.

Here is how it all went down.

The Bengal Bubble

The rousing success of the East India Company in Bengal led to a sharp spike in stock prices. From the Battle of Plassey in 1757, the prices began rising year over year as…



Grant Piper

Thought provoking articles, when time and payouts permit it.