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Item 7029 - Mohandas Gandhi Typed Letter Signed Catalog 509 (Oct 2017)

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TLS signed in pencil, “MK Gandhi,” two pages (8.25 x 10.5 and 8.5 x 10.5), personal attorney letterhead, August 5, 1908. Written from Johannesburg, South Africa, a letter to Henry, in full: “It was grand work at Standerton. I expect to hear more from you to-morrow morning. I hope you have sent full particulars to Phoenix, including statement showing how many storekeepers Standerton has in all. There is nothing new to report here. Starfield’s case, as was expected, was lost. Unfortunately, Buckle did not take it. It was MacCormick. He gave absolution from the instance with costs. Harilal is out hawking today, intent on being arrested. If I hear nothing from him until 6 o’clock our understanding is that that means his arrest. He has gone out alone. The truant has come back. I have sent on the Standerton news to Proctor. You must have seen the cartoon in today’s ‘Daily Mail.’ It is, as you would say, screamingly funny. A copy of the leader on Standerton herewith. David Pollock was here today. He agrees that we ought not to expect anything from the Progressive Party. He characteristically remarked that if that Party finds us on the winning side it will go with us. That is rather good consolation. I have informed some who claim to be brave that they may enter even though they do not possess Peace Preservation Ordinance Permits but only Dutch Registration Certificates. Such men may be tried not for failing to give thumb impressions, but as prohibited immigrants. If so, we should simply put in evidence showing their pre-war residence and therefor [sic] claim entry, and then they should go to gaol. I shall go to the house without fail on Saturday. Harilal was to have gone there this afternoon on his way to his own Police Station to be arrested.” Gandhi adds a handwritten line to the text, and concludes the letter with a brief postscript, “Please try to collect the enclosed—I have written a strong letter to Hooker on the Standerton stores,” and the typed line: “Harilal has just returned unmolested.” In very good to fine condition, with edge tears and chips to the fragile second page.

By 1908 Gandhi had established himself as both a prosperous litigator and the recognized leader of Indians in South Africa. The mention of “Dutch Registration Certificates” relates to an act passed by the Transvaal government in 1906, which enforced registration of the colony's Indian and Chinese populations. In reaction to this ruling, Gandhi first applied his still evolving formula of ‘passive resistance,’ or Satyagraha, at a mass protest in Johannesburg. He called on his fellow Indians to defy the new law and suffer the punishments for doing so, rather than resist through violent means. Gandhi’s subsequent arrest would result in a total of 249 nights in jail, but he nevertheless encouraged his eldest son, Harilal, to follow the same path. On August 16, 1908, Gandhi staged a demonstration in which 1,300 registration cards were publicly incinerated. On his return from Natal two months later, Gandhi was again arrested and sentenced to hard labor when he was unable to show his registration.

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