On This Day

The Day British Colonialists Concluded the Second Anglo-Burmese War

By Wei Yan Aung 20 December 2020

Yangon — On this day in 1852, British colonial forces proclaimed the annexation of Myanmar (then Burma).

The 1824-26 First Anglo-Burmese War ended with the British taking control of Rakhine (then Arakan) and Tanintharyi (Tenasserim). The British advanced further in April 1852 in response to Yangon (Rangoon) mayor U Oak’s fining of two British ship captains who committed murder.

The British occupied coastal towns, including Yangon and rice bowl Bago (Pegu), which they renamed Lower Burma. The proclamation of the annexation was made on December 20, 1852, and the Second Anglo-Burmese War ended without any treaty being signed.

In less than two months, Prince Mindon overthrew his half-brother King Bagan (Pagan Min) and took the throne in Upper Burma.

King Mindon dispatched Burmese diplomats to Britain’s governor-general in India, Lord Dalhousie, to negotiate for the return of occupied Burmese territory. Dalhousie received the Burmese delegation at the Marble Hall in Calcutta (now Kolkata). The 42-year-old reportedly said harshly that as long as the sun shines, the British flag will fly high in all its occupied territories.

The British waged their third and final war in 1885, annexing the whole country. Maha Bandula Street and Kandawyi Garden were previously named after Lord Dalhousie.

Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko.