American who joined India's freedom fight - Fusion - WeRindia

American who joined India’s freedom fight

The only American who joined Indian freedom movement

Samuel Evans Stokes Jr. was an American man born to a wealthy Quaker family. However, he ended his life as Satyananda Stokes, a hero of the Indian fight for independence.

Stokes’s family were Philadelphian businessmen. His father, Samuel Stokes Sr., was the founder of Stokes and Parish Machines Company, an elevator manufacturing company.

However, young Stokes Jr. had no interest in continuing his father’s business. Instead, he wanted to do something with his life that he felt was more important: helping the needy and underprivileged. This desire to help the poor led him to travel to British India in 1904 when he was 22 years old.

Stokes travelled to India to serve leprosy patients in the Himalayas in Shimla, the capital of Himachal Pradesh. His parents were worried that Stokes would get leprosy himself and die, but he was determined to go anyway.

However, Stokes soon found himself facing a different problem. He found it difficult to forge relationships with the patients, and he soon realized why. Stokes didn’t look like or speak like any of the patients, so they found it hard to relate to him.

When Stokes began to dress like them and learned their Pahari dialect of Hindi, the people began to understand that he had come there to help them and was more than just another foreigner.

In 1912, Stokes fell in love with Benjamin Agnes. She was the daughter of a first-generation Rajput Christian. The two of them settled on a large plot of land in the Himalayan foothills and had seven children together. However, he never forgot the Pahari people in Shimla.

Seeing how little they had to eat, he imported apples for them to grow from the United States. Stokes also became the only American to join India’s fight for independence from the British. However, during India’s revolution, one of Stokes’s seven children died young.

Stricken by grief, Stokes found comfort by converting to Hinduism, changing his name from Samuel Stokes to Satyananda Stokes.

Agnes, too, converted to Hinduism to support her husband, changing her name to Priyadevi. The two of them raised all of their children as Indians. Stokes had moved to India, fought for India, and married a woman from India, so he wanted his children to grow up as people who belonged to the country he loved.

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