Eminent Chinese of the Ch'ing Period/Lo Ping-chang

LO Ping-chang 駱秉章 (T. 籲門, H. 儒齋, original ming 俊), Apr. 28, 1793–1867, Dec. 12, was a native of Hua-hsien, Kwangtung. After devoting his early life to study, he obtained in 1832 the chin-shih degree, and in the following year became a compiler of the Hanlin Academy. In 1839 he was appointed a censor and achieved distinction by his memorials to the throne on domestic and foreign problems. After ten years in various metropolitan and provincial offices he was appointed governor of Hunan—a post he held (except for an interval of a few months in 1853) from July, 1850 to October, 1860. During this period he had to face the difficult problem of the Taiping Rebellion which harassed that region soon after he assumed office. In 1851 he was ordered to take steps for the defense of Hunan and was one of the commanders within the walled city of Changsha when it withstood the siege of the Taipings from September 11 to November 30, 1852. In the following year Nanking was proclaimed the capital of the insurgents, thus greatly strengthening their hold on South China.

At this critical moment, Tsêng Kuo-fan [q. v.] was placed in command of the "Hunan Braves," and Lo and Hu Lin-i [q. v.], governors of Hunan and Hupeh respectively, were ordered to direct the fighting against the rebels. Impressed with the simple, straightforward, and indefatigable characteristics of the Hunanese, Lo Ping-chang relied much on them for prosecuting the difficult campaign. He worked in close co-operation with them, selected and trained officers for them, and above all secured for them financial help. When Tsêng Kuo-fan's newly-created gunboat flotilla and army were disappointingly defeated at their first trial in 1854, high officials urged Lo Ping-chang to press the impeachment of Tsêng. Instead Lo did all in his power to supply Tsêng with munitions and provisions. Before long Wuchang was taken, and his faith in the Hunan Braves was justified. In 1855 the situation in Hupeh grew worse, and uprisings in Hunan also became serious. Lo Ping-chang lent his financial and military resources not only to Hunan, but also to Hupeh, Kiangsi, Kweichow, and Kwangtung. In order to raise funds to meet these extraordinary expenditures (1855) he adapted the likin system (see under Kuo Sung-tao) to Hunan. For the assistance thus given to other provinces in quelling the rebellion, he was rewarded in 1858 with the first rank official costume. After Shih Ta-k'ai [q. v.] had been driven (1859) by bloody battles from South Hunan to Kwangtung and Kwangsi, Hunan was fairly clear of the Taipings, but Szechwan was then harassed by bandits. In 1860 Lo Ping-chang was ordered to Szechwan to suppress the rebels, but he could not shift to the new scene of trouble until February 1861 owing to a return attack by Shih Ta-k'ai on Hunan. And even in Szechwan Lo had to quell several local uprisings before he could reach the capital of that province. In these operations and in his later political administration he was greatly helped by Liu Jung 劉蓉 (T. 孟容, H. 霞仙, 1816–1873), a native of Hunan who, as a capable secretary and counselor of Tsêng Kuo-fan, served Lo in the same capacity. On October 18, 1861 he was formally installed as governor-general at Chengtu and started to make an end of the insurgents. In 1863 he secured the submission and death of Shih Ta-k'ai who had been harassing Szechwan since the previous year. For this achievement he was given the title, Grand Guardian of the Heir Apparent. After Nanking fell to the Imperial forces, in July 1864, Lo was rewarded with the hereditary rank of Ch'ing-ch'ê tu-yü of the first class. During the period 1864–67 he was often troubled with failing eyesight. Though he requested retirement he was urged to continue in office with special grants of sick leave, during which his duties were performed by Ch'ung-shih [q. v.], then Tartar General at Chengtu. In 1867 Lo, having somewhat recovered, resumed office and was made assistant Grand Secretary. The following year he died at his post in Szechwan. He was posthumously given the title Grand Tutor of the Heir Apparent and was canonized as Wên-chung 文忠.

Lo Ping-chang was one of Tseng Kuo-fan's chief helpers in suppressing the Taiping Rebellion, and in his later years he was often consulted by the emperor about military matters in southwest China. His sagacity and far-sightedness are shown in the men of talent he recommended for office and in the detailed and carefully prepared memorials which he submitted to the throne. The latter were brought together in an undated work, entitled 駱文忠公奏議 Lo Wên-chung kung tsou-i, 27 chüan—his memorials from Hunan occupying 16 chüan, and those from Szechwan, 11 chüan. A supplement consists of biographies and elegies. Lo Ping-chang wrote his own nien-p'u, reprinted in 1895, under the title Lo Wên-chung kung tzŭ-ting nien-p'u (自訂年譜).

[1/412/1a; 2/45/24a; 5/5/4a; 8/14上/1a; Kuo Sung-tao [q. v.] Yang-chih shu-wu wen-chi 19/6a.]

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