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The Taiping Rebellion of the Qing Dynasty

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Sean Jaworski

The Taiping Rebellion of the Qing Dynasty

The Bloodiest Civil War of all time, as it is known, happened under the Qing Dynasty. Although there were many other rebellions against this particular dynasty, the Taiping movement proved to be the most significant and threatening to the Qing. The civil war lasted 14 years and coasted the lives of over 20 million people in China. This movement had to be a powerful one to last as long as it did and have the ability stabilize throughout the years. What gave this movement such strength were the recent events taking place in China during this time; meaning that the, the many poor suffering citizens of China, the unsatisfying Qing government, and the appeal of leader Hong Xiuquan were all major factors that gave power to this movement.

The infrastructure for this secret society was forming even before there was leader to serve them. The people were tortured with many natural disasters and shoved into the ground with little to no help from the government. Over the years of the Machu rule, in 1847 there were many widespread droughts that left countless citizens starving due to the inability to produce food. It wasn't even two years later before the Yangtze River decided to flood leaving no way for farmers to harvest their crops once again. With the great shortage of food and the population doubling in size, the people were left with no other choice but to starve. Meanwhile their Qing leaders would eat like the kings that they were and gave no policies to help the starving. Many of these starving low status people belonged to an ethnic group known as the Hakka's. Their social stigma kept them from climbing the ladder of society. Having no other way out of the bottom cast, there is no doubt that these people (all outcasts of society not only the Hakka people) were the building blocks in making this great rebellion so powerful.

The very beginning of this catastrophic revolt started with one man driven mad by his failures- Hong Xiuquan. Hong Xiuquan was the leader of the entire Taiping rebellion. After failing the Imperial examinations four times and becoming delirious for one month, he halted his studies of the Confucian thought. While suffering from his nervous breakdown after failing the exams the second time, he spoke of vivid mystical visions. He interpreted these visions years later as God turning to him to rid of demon worship in Qing China. He then began studying the Christian faith and convinced himself he was the younger brother of Jesus Christ and the Chinese son of God. Hong began preaching his thoughts and ideas to gain influence. Hong belonging to the Hakka's ethnicity was able to relate and gain many followers of those belonging to the Hakka's. Coming out of the waste of society, much anger was directed toward the Qing government. By late 1849 Hong's growing population of God worshipers were conjugating in the district of Guiping. By 1851 the Imperial government launched an attack on Hong and his followers threatened by the increasing size of his cult. The attack failed and 11 days later a new kingdom was established. The kingdom was named Taiping Tianguo, which in translation means "The Heavenly Kingdom of Peace and Prosperity"; Hong then declared himself the Heavenly King. Hong had to remain discipline even after this victory telling his troops, "those who fail to attend meetings when summoned, or even those



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