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Item 2097 - Mohandas Gandhi Autograph Letter Signed Catalog 447 (Feb 2015)

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ALS in English, signed “Bapu (M. K. Gandhi),” one page on a 5.5 x 3.5 postcard, February 18, 1942. Letter to Sihri R. Achuthan, a freedom fighter, student revolutionary, and later a member of the first parliament of free India. In full: “I have your letter. I am glad you are all spinning & make wise use of your time. I am asking Dr. Pattahbi to attend to your requirements.” Addressed on the reverse to Achuthan at the Central Jail, Rajamundry, Andhra. A central vertical crease, a few small stains, and a fingerprint near the signature, otherwise fine condition.

Shri R. Achuthan was general secretary of the Madras students and imprisoned in 1941 after speaking out against 'police terrorism,' and became one of Gandhi's followers and correspondents during his time in prison. Gandhi's mention of "spinning" is exceptionally important, as he had adopted the spinning wheel as a symbol of economic independence very early on in his movement. His platform started to become popular shortly after World War I, and he developed a broad base of support from both Hindus and Muslims to support peaceful noncooperation. After assuming control of the Indian National Congress in December 1921, Gandhi expanded his nonviolence program to include the swadeshi policy—the boycott of British goods. From this originated his spinning wheel, as he encouraged all Indians to wear khaki (homespun cloth) instead of British-made textiles. He furthered this concept by exhorting Indian men and women, rich or poor, to spend time each day spinning khadi in support of the independence movement. Thus the spinning wheel—and the textile itself—became symbolic of the movement toward Indian independence. An outstanding letter of great historical importance. Pre-certified John Reznikoff/PSA/DNA.

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