Sun Yatsen.doc

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University of Toronto St. George
Nhung Tuyet Tran

Sun Yatsen (Career to 1912) 1. Early influences Taipings: Sun was born in 1866 near Canton (in the part of China were the West had been present the longest). This was just after the final defeat of the Taipings. Hsu suggests that the Taiping Rebellion was an inspiration to Sun. The West and Christianity: In 1879 (aged 13) Sun went to Honolulu to join his brother. He entered a missionary school, and later went on to Hong Kong. He thus had elements of a Western education, and also became a Christian. Both Honolulu and Hong Kong brought home to Sun the contrast between their prosperity and orderliness and China’s poverty and backwardness. Honolulu also brought the idea of democracy and the need for a strong sense of nationalism. Qing weakness: Hsu says it was China’s defeat by France in 1885 which first turned Sun towards revolution. Sun graduated as a doctor and began practising in 1892. But his revolutionary activities had already begun. Sun had still not turned his back completely on the prospect of reform rather than revolution. In 1894 he sought an interview with Li Hongzhang, who didn’t want to see him. This, together with China's defeat by Japan decided Sun finally for revolution. 2.Early Revolutionary Attempts. Revive China Society: In 1894 Sun established the “Revive China Society”. In 1895 Sun attempted an uprising in Canton, even though his society did not have many members. The plot was discovered by the police, 48 rebels lost their lives and Sun fled to Hong Kong, and then to Japan. Wandering: In the next 5 years Sun struggled to gain much support. Sun travelled to Honolulu, London and then returned to Japan. In London in 1896, Sun was “kidnapped” inside the Chinese Embassy. The British Government insisted upon his release. The episode brought Sun some welcome publicity. Sun spent most of this period in Japan, seeking support from overseas Chinese. Sun found it difficult to make much headway. He also had a rival in Kang Youwei who, after he fled China in 1898, also sought support for his idea of a reformed monarchy. Nevertheless, during these difficult years, Sun began to develop his philosophy of the “Three People’s Principles” : Democracy, Nationalism and People’s Livelihood. Boxer Rebellion: The Boxer Rebellion was something of a turning point for Sun. It caused considerable disillusionment with the Qing Dynasty and Sun began to receive more support. Others also began to organize revolutionary societies. Sun travelled widely, gaining support amongst overseas Chinese, especially students. 3.To the Revolution a) In 1905 Sun and others established the “Chinese United League” or Tong Menghui. The purpose of this organization was to co- ordinate the activities of the various revolutionary groups. The Three People’s Principles were (at least in theory) the philosophy of the Tong Menghui. Branches of the organization were established in China, as well as around the world. b) Hsu describes the founding of the Tong Menghui as “a milestone in the Chinese revolution”. It won greater support for the revolution, for it was “multiprovincial and multiclass”. c) Revolutionary uprisings became more frequent. There were 8 uprisings between 1906 and 1911. The last, in April 1911, in Canton produced the “seventy-two martyrs” – many being recently returned students from Japan. d) When the revolution broke out, following the “Double Tenth” Sun was in the USA. In December 1911, in Shanghai, Sun was elected by provincial delegates to be provisional President of the Republic of China. e) However, Yuan Shikai had played a key role in the revolution and had significant military power, whereas Sun
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