Little Bits of History

Not a Black Hole – Yet

Posted in History by patriciahysell on August 24, 2012

Job Charnock

August 24, 1690: Job Charnock establishes another factory. Charnock was born in London around 1630 into a Puritan family. His older brother was a famous preacher, ministering to Henry Cromwell. Job became a businessman and traveled to India under the employment of Maurice Thomson. While in India, Charnock joined the East India Company. He was stationed in a variety of places and while there, learned the local languages and dressed as the natives. He was a morose man who reported smuggling among his coworkers. While this (and his business acumen) endeared him to the Company, it led to alienation with his compatriots.

His success in factory operation led to advancements and by 1685 he was made chief agent in Bengal. He came into conflict with locals over trade restrictions. This led to hostilities and eventually a truce was reached. However, during this time, Charnock lost his beloved wife, a loss from which he would never recover. He next went on a secret expedition to set up a fortified settlement in Bengal. Charnock found a spot and after persuading the powers in Madras, he returned to his desired location. He chose the spot because of the ease with which it could be defended. He established his new factory on this day, in Calcutta.

Today it is spelled Kolkata and is the capital of West Bengal. At one time, Calcutta was the capital of the British Indian empire, but in 1911 that moved to Delhi. The region has been inhabited for over 2,000 years but prior to Charnock’s coming, nothing is recorded. The founder of the city was said to be Charnock until 2003 when the Calcutta High Court ruled there was no founder. Today, Kolkata comprises what used to be Kalikata, Gobindapur, and Sutanuti.

The city covers 570 square miles and has a population of nearly 4.5 million. It is located on the east bank of the Hooghly River, part of the Ganges Delta system. The climate is tropical with a rainy season during the summer months. It is home to the Calcutta Stock Exchange and is a major commercial and military port. The mayor is Sovan Chatterjee who oversees the city’s 15 boroughs.

Take your map of India, and find, if you can, a more uninviting spot than Calcutta. – George Trevelyan

Thus the midday halt of Charnock – more’s the pity! – / Grew a City / As the fungus sprouts chaotic from its bed / So it spread – Rudyard Kipling

The Square itself is composed of magnificent houses which render Calcutta not only the handsomest town in Asia but one of the finest in the world. – L. de Grandpré

Calcutta, more than New Delhi, is the British-built city of India. – V. S. Naipaul

Also on this day:

Pompeii Disappears – In AD 79, Mount Vesuvius erupts.
Waffling – In 1869, a waffle iron was patented.
George Crum – In 1853, George Crum invents potato chips.

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