Who's Who in the Revolution
1900 - 1925


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Sun Yat-sen (1866-1925) enjoys respect from both Chinese nationalists and communists--on Taiwan and in the People's Republic. He is universally acknowledged as the "father" or "George Washington" of his country who fought indefatigably against Qing rule for the establishment of a sovereign China. He wrote in 1925, shortly before his death that year, "For 40 years I have devoted myself to the cause of the people's revolution with but one end in view: the elevation of China to a position of freedom and equality among the nations," quoted in "Kuomintang."

image source < http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sun_Yat-sen >

Here Sun is shown in 1892, in traditional scholarly garb while attending the Hong Kong College of Medicine for the Chinese. He is the second from left. In later years he would formulate the Three People's Principles, form the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT,) and serve as Provisional President of the Republic in 1912. Trusting General Yuan Shikai as an ally, Sun handed over the presidency to him in 1913.


image source < http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sun_Yat-sen >

Yuan Shikai's actions in the declining days of the Qing Dynasty and early days of the Republic do not redound to his credit. He betrayed the Guangxu Emperor's 100 Day's Reform supporting General Ronglu and the Empress Dowager. After supporting Sun Yat-sen in the very early days of the Republic, he turned against Sun, forcing him to flee once again to Japan in 1913. His regime, first as president, then as emperor, then as president was no more successful than that of the late Qings. He was forced, during World War One, to accept the humiliating Twenty-One Demands. Historians do not favor him in their accounts of his role in Chinese history.

image source < http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yuan_Shikai >
Soong Ching-ling (1893-1981,) the middle of the three Soong sisters, attended Shanghai #3 Girls' Middle School* and then earned a BA from Wesleyan College for Women in Macomb, Georgia, in 1913; in 1915, she married Sun Yat-sen during his Japanese exile. Sun was twenty-six years her senior. A quip regarding the sisters ran, "One loved money, one loved power, and one loved the nation" ("Soong Sisters"). Ching-ling was the one who loved the nation. After Sun's death in 1925, she continued to advocate for women and against arranged marriage, and she followed the "leftist" drift of her husband. Ching-ling is in the middle, flanked by her two sisters. Madam Sun/Ching-ling gave her home to be the Children's Palace; recent scholarship credits her with funding the construction of the Shanghai #3 Girls Middle School. *FYI-Rebecca and Lindsay Wang's mother also attended the Shanghai #3 Girls' High School. Rebecca and Lindsay are Castilleja alumnae.


image source < http://english.cwi.org.cn/album/01.htm >

The Soong sisters, as noted above, were "modern women"--certainly more broadly educated than most elite Chinese women at the turn of the 19th century. None of the three had bound feed.

< http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Foot_binding >

 

 

Soong Ching-ling devoted herself to her husband, Sun Yat-sen, accompanying him to Beijing in 1924, when he was already suffering from liver cancer. He had hoped to provide leadership for the Northern Expedition to unite China at last, and to hold Mao and Chiang together. He did not live to achieve any of these goals.

image source < http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soong_Ching-ling >

 

During and after World War II, Ching-ling broke with her sister, Mei-ling, and brother-law, Chiang Kai-shek, and transferred her support to the communists--a bitter blow to the KMT and its American allies. She even spent a number of years in Moscow before reconciling with the KMT after the Japanese invasion of China Proper in 1937. She joined the Chinese Communist Party shortly before her death in 1981.


image source < http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soong_Ching-ling >

After the death of Sun Yat-sen in 1925, Chiang Kai-shek (1887-1975) took over the leadership of the KMT, led the Northern Expedition, and eventually became Generalissimo and President of the Republic of China in 1928, with its capital at Nanjing. Like the Empress Dowager before him, he saw that China suffered from two diseases--one of the extremities (Japan) and one of the gut (the communists.) He could not fight both at the same time and devoted his energies, 1927-1937, to the so-called Bandit Extermination Campaigns against Mao and the CCP; he forced the communists to flee deep into the interior on the Long March in 1934. He put up minimal resistance when the Mukden Incident on the South Manchurian Railway transformed Manchuria into the Japanese puppet state of Manchukuo in 1931-1932. However, when Japan invaded China Proper in 1937, after the "double 7 Incident" at the Marco Polo Bridge, he and the KMT patched up their differences with the communists to form a common front in the 2nd Sino-Japanese War (1937-1945.) Chiang's anti-communism, along with that of his wife, Soong Mei-ling, made him a popular figure in the United States, especially in the so-called "the China Lobby."


image source < http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chiang_Kai-shek >

Defined as "pudgy" and not a beauty like her older sister Ching-ling, Mei-ling ("Beautiful Mood") was born in 1897, and was a willful and spoiled (Seagrave 98) child. Youngest of the three Soong sisters, Mei-ling (1897-2003) attended school in the United States, graduating from Wellesley College in 1917, with a degree in English Literature.When she met Chiang in 1921, he was not considered a "catch," due to his military and gangster connections. Furthermore, he had a first wife, a second wife, and a concubine. The circumstances did not make him appealing to the wealthy, ambitious Soong clan. And, Mei-ling was already engaged to a young man chosen by her father, "Charlie" Soong. The situation had changed by 1927 when Chiang was definitely the "man of the hour." He married Soong Mei-ling that year.

image source < http://www.wellesley.edu/Anniversary/chiang.html >

 

The stories and legends that surround the marriage of Chiang Kai-shek and Soong Mei-ling abound. Some assert that he proposed first to Ching-ling upon the death of Sun, that the marriage was one of convenience, that their union "one of the greatest love matches of all time" ("Soong May-ling"). They married in 1927, after Chiang promised to convert to Christianity and to divorce his other wives. Their partnership and commitment to one another, from 1927 until his death in 1975, was unequivocal. She broke with her sister, Ching-ling and went with her husband to Taiwan in 1949. Mei-ling worked throughout most of her life to support Chiang, raise money for their cause, and maintain links with anti-communist sympathizers in the United States.


image source < http://www.magiccarpetjournals.com/Madame-Chiang.htm >

The period from 1912-1928 was one of student activism, civil war, compounded by warlordism
and interference by the Japanese in China's government and economy.
Three of the most colorful warlords were Zhang Zuolin, the "Old Marshal" of Manchuria,
Feng Yuxiang, the "Christian General," and Wu Peifu. Follow link to see who dominated what
area(s) of China during this time of nadir; follow links, e.g. "next"
< http://users.erols.com/mwhite28/chin1910.htm >

Zhang Zuolin (1873-1928) built a power base for himself in Manchuria during the fragmentation and dissolution of central authority following the death of Yuan Shikai in 1916. He tried to restore Puyi to the Qing throne, an effort that came to naught. In the 1920s, he built a powerful army of 100,000 personally loyal to him and ruled Manchuria as the "Mukden Tiger" (Tuchman 85) preserving a semblance of o-p-u there while China fell apart. Alternately at war with the titular authorities in Beijing, Zhang, the "old marshal," also fought warlords Feng and Wu but his real enemy was Japan, which had its eye on Manchuria. Zhang was assassinated in 1928 by Japanese officers seeking to protect their stake in the South Manchurian RR and to prevent Manchuria's re-unification with China.

image source < http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zhang_Zuolin >
Wu Peifu (1874-1939) served with Yuan Shikai in the reformed Qing army in the twilight days of the Qing dynasty. Like Zhang (above) he broke away from the central authority in 1916 and formed "the best trained and drilled" troops in China ("Wu Peifu"). According to American observer, Joseph Stilwell, his army was "well-equipped with knapsacks, trench picks, shovels, lanterns, teapots, oiled paper unbrellas, alarm clocks and hot-waterbottles" (Tuchman 87). Apparently Time Magazine thought, in 1924, he had the potential to unite and rule China. Like Zhang, he constantly fought other warlords and Beijing. He was forced to retreat deep into the Chinese interior as Chiang's Northern Expedition fought its way North. When Japan invaded China in 1937, he denounced the Japanese and demanded that the Nationalist government resist them.
image source < http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wu_Peifu >

The "Christian General," Feng Yuxiang (1882-1948) also served in Yuan Shikai's Beiyang army as a young man and converted to Christianity in 1914. Joseph Stilwell admired him, not because he baptized his troops with a hose (Tuchman 86,) but because he tried to spread literacy and encouraged them to learn a trade. Stilwell commented favorably on the placards at Feng's camp, "'Plow land, weave cloth, read books'" (Tuchman 98). Like the other warlords, he fought them, the Beijing government, and Chiang Kaishek, finally being defeated by Chiang's KMT and retreating to his stronghold in the North. He openly criticized Chiang, especially for the KMT's refusal to confront Japan in Manchuria after the Mukden Incident on the South Manchurian Railroad in 1931. Feng, like Soong Ching-ling, gradually moved to a poltical position sympathetic to the Soviet Union, where he died in 1948.

image source < http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Feng_Yuxiang >

Chiang Kaishek marched triumphantly into Hankou at the head of his army during the Northern Expedition, 1926-1928, proclaiming himself Generalissimo and President of the Republic of China.

image source < http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Northern_Expedition > (check)


BIBLIOGRAPHY

"Chiang Kai-shek." Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Online available.
< http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chiang_Kai-shek >

Cullingford, Jerry. Chinese Brush Painting Gallery. Online available.
< http://www.selune.demon.co.uk/cbp/gallery.html >
image source for background

"Feng Yuxiang." Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Online available.
< http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Feng_Yuxiang >

"Footbinding." Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Online available.
< http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Foot_binding >

George, Maxine. "Madame Chiang--The Dragon Lady Who Bridged the East and the West."
Magic Carpet Journals. Online available.
< http://www.magiccarpetjournals.com/Madame-Chiang.htm >

"Kuomintang." China. Online available.
< http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk./CHINAkuomintang.htm >

Latourette, Kenneth Scott. A Short History of the Far East, 4th ed.
London: Collier-MacMillan Ltd., 1964.

"Northern Expedition (1926-1927.)" Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Online available.
< http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Northern_Expedition >

Seagrave, Sterling. The Soong Dynasty. New York, et al. Harper and Row,
Publishers, 1985.

"Soong Ching-ling." Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Online available.
< http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soong_Ching-ling >

"Soong Ching Ling Album." China Welfare Institute. Online available.
< http://english.cwi.org.cn/album/01.htm >

"Soong May-ling." Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Online available.
< http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soong_May-ling >

"Soong Sisters." Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Online available.
< http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soong_Sisters >

"Sun Yat-sen." Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Online available.
< http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sun_Yat-sen >

Tuchman, Barbara. Stilwell and the American Experience in China, 1911-1945.
New York, et al.: The Macmillan Company/A Bantam Book, 1972.

Wolf, Mur. "Madame Chiang Kai-shek." Wellesley Person of the Week. Online available.
< http://www.wellesley.edu/Anniversary/chiang.html >

"Wu Peifu." Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Online available.
< http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wu_Peifu >

"Yuan Shihkai." Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Online available.
< http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yuan_Shikai >

"Zhang Zuolin." Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Online available.
< http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zhang_Zuolin >