Eminent Chinese of the Ch'ing Period/Yüan Chia-san
YÜAN Chia-san 袁甲三 (T. 新齋, H. 午橋), Mar. 16, 1806–1863, Aug. 8, official, was a native of Hsiang-ch'êng, Honan. A chin-shih of 1835, he was appointed a secretary in the Board of Ceremonies, assuming his post in 1840. Three years later he began to serve concurrently as a secretary in the Grand Council. After various promotions he became a censor in 1850, and within three years submitted more than twenty memorials on national affairs. He advocated, as early as 1851, a project to change the course of the Yellow River to follow the Ta-ch'ing-ho 大清河 in Shantung. His suggestion was ignored, but in a few years the Yellow River abandoned the old course, as he had foreseen, thus causing untold damage over a vast area. He criticized the measures taken in Kwangsi against the Taiping Rebels (see under Hung Hsiu-ch'üan)—in particular the conduct of such commanders as Li Hsing-yüan [q. v.] and Sai-shang-a (see under Ch'ung-ch'i). He accused several governors of cowardice or misconduct, and even reprimanded Prince Tsai-ch'üan [q. v.] for usurping power. His foresight and courage in these matters won him fame as a truly great censor.
After the Taipings had, in 1853, occupied Nanking and invaded northern Anhwei, a native of that province, Lü Hsien-chi 呂賢基 (T. 羲音, H. 鶴田, posthumous name 文節, 1803–1853), was sent there from Peking to organize a local militia. At Lü's request, Yüan was ordered to assist in this task. Later in the same year Yüan was entrusted with command of the militia which had previously been under Chou T'ien-chüeh (see under Tu Shou-t'ien), with headquarters at Ying-chou. When, in November 1853, Lu was killed in action, Yüan was ordered to proceed to central Anhwei to take over his command, but he insisted on staying in northwestern Anhwei to maintain communications with Honan. His judgment, in this instance, proved to be sound, for Chiang Chung-yüan [q. v.], who went to Lu-chou in central Anhwei, was defeated and killed there. For a time Yüan's troops were the only government forces left intact in Anhwei. In 1854 he moved eastward to Lin-huai and was promoted to be vice-president of the Censorate, but failed in the attempt to recover Lu-chou. A year later he was criticized by the governor of Anhwei for making false reports and for non-cooperation with the other generals. He was temporarily cashiered, but owing to his own account of the case and the favorable reports of I-liang [q. v.] and others, he was allowed to redeem himself by fighting the Nien bandits in Northern Anhwei (see under Sêng-ko-lin-ch'in).
After two years of active service he was given, in 1857, the rank of director of the Court of the Imperial Stud. In June 1858 he went to Hsü-chou in northern Kiangsu to ward off an eastward thrust of the Nien bandits, and two months later succeeded Shêng-pao (see under Lin Fêng-hsiang) as commander of the armies fighting the Nien bandits. Early in 1859 he was released from his responsibility on the ground that he had made little progress in the war. In May he was appointed acting director-general of Grain Transport at Huai-an, Kiangsu, and in September was again given command of troops fighting the bandits. Two months later he was made Imperial Commissioner for military affairs in Anhwei. Early in 1860 his troops recovered Lin-huai and Fêng-yang on the Huai River, and for these victories he was decorated with the Yellow Jacket. His attempt to recover more territory was frustrated by the onslaught of the Taiping army under Ch'ên Yü-ch'êng [q. v.]. In the meantime the Taiping armies in southern Kiangsu won spectacular victories (see under Li Hsiu-ch'êng). Early in 1861 Miao P'ei-lin (see under Sêng-ko-lin-ch'in) rebelled from the government forces, and the whole of central Anhwei was again lost to the rebels. While worrying over these reverses, in the summer of 1861, Yüan was stricken with fever. Nevertheless he held desperately to his position in northern Anhwei, and only late in 1862, after Lu-chou had been recovered, was he granted his repeated requests for a rest. He retired to Hsiang-ch'êng early in 1863 and died a few months later. He was canonized as Tuan-min 端敏, and temples were erected to his memory at Ch'ên-chou, Honan, and at Huai-an. His collected works, entitled Tuan-min kung chi, is included in the Hsiang-ch'êng Yüan-shih chia-chi (see below).
The mother of Yüan Chia-san (née Kuo 郭, 1777–1875) survived him by twelve years. The elder of his two sons, Yüan Pao-hêng 袁保恆 (T. 貞叔, H. 筱塢, 1826–1878), chin-shih of 1850 and a compiler in the Hanlin Academy, assisted his father in many campaigns in Anhwei. In 1868 this son began to serve on the staff of Tso Tsung-t'ang [q. v.], and from 1869 to 1875 was in charge of the supplies for Tso's armies. He thus materially helped Tso in the campaigns against the Moslem rebels in Shensi, Kansu, and Turkestan. From 1876 to 1878 he served as vice-president of the Board of Punishments.
After his death he was canonized as Wen-ch'êng 文誠. The younger son, Yüan Pao-ling 袁保齡 (T. 子久, 陸龕, 1841–1889), a chü-jên of 1862, served for seven years (1882–89) under Li Hung-chang [q. v.], supervising the construction of defensive works at Lu-shun (Port Arthur). The elder brother of Yüan Chia-san, named Yüan Shu-san 袁樹三 (T. 松農, b. 1801), had two sons: Yüan Pao-chung 袁保中 (T. 受臣) and Yüan Pao-ch'ing 袁保慶 (T. 篤臣, H. 延之, 1829–1893, chü-jên of 1858). The latter won various rewards for his military exploits and died while serving as acting salt intendant at Nanking. Having no son who grew to maturity, Yüan Pao-ch'ing adopted (ca. 1866) the fourth son of Yüan Pao-chung. This adopted son was Yüan Shih-k'ai 袁世凱 (T. 慰亭, H. 容庵, Sept. 16, 1859–1916, June 6) who later became President of the Chinese Republic.
Yüan Shih-k'ai rose to high office from humble beginnings. In 1880, after purchasing the title of an expectant secretary in the Grand Secretariat, he joined the staff of General Wu Ch'ang-ch'ing (see under Li Shu-ch'ang), who was then stationed at Têngchow, Shantung. Two years later this general with three thousand men was sent to Korea to put down a rebellion. In cooperation with Admiral Ting Ju-ch'ang (see under Li Hung-chang) and Ma Chien-chung 馬建忠 (T. 眉叔, 1844–1900), he arrested the leader of the rebellion, the Tai Wön Kun (see under Li Shu-ch'ang), who was the father of the Korean king and was opposed to the party in power, led by the queen. The Tai Wön Kun was taken to Paoting where he was held for three years on the supposition that his removal from Korea would restore peace to that country. All the officials who had a part in this venture were rewarded, including Yüan Shih-k'ai who, for his part, was made an expectant sub-prefect.
From 1882 to 1894 China took an interventionist attitude toward Korea, in the hope of warding off aggressive measures of other Powers. The forces of General Wu were stationed in Korea, as were certain officials who were sent to look after the customs and foreign affairs. On December 4, 1884, a pro-Japanese faction in Seoul initiated a coup which forced the king to summon the Japanese Legation guards to the Palace. Two days later Yüan Shih-k'ai, who was then chief of staff of the Chinese garrison, was requested by Korean officials to intervene. He marched toward the Palace with some two thousand men to rescue the king, and thus became involved in a clash with the Japanese and the Palace Guards. The Japanese, thereupon left Seoul with their minister and some pro-Japanese Koreans. Upon Yüan devolved the maintenance of order in the city until the end of January 1885 when Wu Ta-ch'êng [q. v.] permitted him to return to China. The incident was settled in April 1885 by the Tientsin Convention (see under Li Hung-chang) by which China and Japan agreed to withdraw their respective garrisons from Korea.
After a few months of leisure in China Yüan Shih-k'ai was commissioned by Li Hung-chang (in August 1885) to accompany the Korean Tai Wün Kun back to Seoul to counteract the influence of the queen. After his arrival in Seoul in October, he received appointment as China's commissioner of commerce, with the rank of a prefect and the powers of a resident. For eight years he represented China in Korea, enjoying a high prestige and an exalted position, until the outbreak of the Sino-Japanese War (1894). In July of that year he returned to China and was appointed intendant of the Wenchow, Chuchow and Taichow Circuit in Chekiang, but did not fill the post, going instead to Manchuria to help Chou Fu (see under Li Hung-chang) send supplies to the armies fighting the Japanese. After the war he went to Peking where he gained the confidence of Prince Ch'ing (I-k'uang, see under Yung-lin) and Jung-lu [q. v.] and through their influence was made responsible for the training of the army corps, known as Ting-wu chün 定武軍. This corps was organized in 1894 by Hu Yü-fên 胡燏棻 (T. 芸楣, d. 1906), aided by German instructors. Yüan expanded it to seven thousand men and established a school for military officers. His army, fully equipped and highly disciplined, impressed Jung-lu favorably when the latter inspected it in 1896. The following year Yüan was promoted to be provincial judge of Chihli, and in 1898, during the One Hundred Days' Reform (see under T'an Ssŭ-t'ung), was given the title of vice-president of a Board. The reformers cultivated his friendship in the hope of securing his military support. It is generally believed, however, that he disclosed their plans to Jung-lu, thus bringing their movement to a sudden stop—resulting also in the "retirement" of Emperor Tê-tsung (i.e. Tsai-t'ien, q.v.), and the resumption of power by the Empress Dowager (i.e. Hsiao-ch'in, q.v.). Whatever his part in this episode, Yüan became the latter's favorite, and retained command of his army which was now renamed the Wu-wei yu-chün (see under Jung-lu), one of the five armies designed to defend Peking.
In May 1899 some of the forces of Yüan Shih-k'ai, under the command of Chang Hsün (see under Tsai-t'ien), were sent to Têchow, Shantung, to defend that province against German encroachments. A month later Yüan was made junior vice-president of the Board of Works and late in 1899 was sent to Shantung as governor. He suppressed the rising tide of Boxers in that province, and thus forced them northward into Chihli where they won official approval and brought on the Boxer War of 1900. During the war Yüan maintained order in Shantung and expanded his army to twenty thousand men. On September 7, 1901 the Protocol of Peking was signed, thus ending the Boxer War. When two months later Li Hung-chang died, Yüan was summoned to take his place as governor-general of Chihli and as Pei-yang Ta-Ch'ên 北洋大臣, in charge of foreign and military affairs in North China. His appointment was due chiefly to the fact that he was in command of the only modern army in North China and had won the approval of foreigners for suppressing the Boxers in Shantung.
From December 1901 to September 1907 Yüan Shih-k'ai directed various reform programs in North China, such as the establishment of schools, the introduction of new methods of industry, and the organization of police forces. But his main interest was the expansion of the regular army, using the Wu-wei yu-chün as a nucleus. One division (chên 鎭, later known as shih 師) was organized in 1902, one in 1903, two in 1904 and two more in 1905. This new army, known as the Pei-yang lu-chün 北洋陸軍 was completely under his control by virtue of the fact that five of the division commanders and all the superior officers had been his students or protégés. Among these generals may be mentioned: Wang Shih-chên 王士珍 (T. 聘卿, 1861–1930, Premier 1917–18); Fêng Kuo-chang 馮國璋 (T. 華甫, Jan. 7, 1859–1919, President of the Republic, 1917–18); and Tuan Ch'i-jui 段祺瑞 (T. 芝泉, 1865–1936, Provisional President, 1924–26).
In 1905, and again in 1906, Yüan Shih-k'ai served as chief inspector of the army maneuvers conducted in northern Honan. As founder of this modern army he won high acclaim. Nevertheless, his increasing power was regarded with suspicion, particularly by some Manchus. In August 1907 he was suddenly summoned to Peking and made Minister of Foreign Affairs and concurrently a Grand Councilor-a promotion really designed to deprive him of his military power. For similar reasons, and about the same time, Chang Chih-tung [q. v.] was removed from Wuchang; the forces which these two Chinese had trained were transferred to the Ministry of War, then headed by the Manchu, T'ieh-liang 鐵良 (T. 寶臣, b. 1863), assisted by two other Manchus, Yin-ch'ang 廕昌 (T. 午樓, Minister to Germany 1901–05) and Liangpi 良弼 (T. 賚臣, 1877–1912). The last-named was a grandson of I-li-pu [q. v.] and had graduated from a military school in Japan.
Deprived thus of his military power, Yüan Shih-k'ai became more active in politics. He continued in favor with the Empress Dowager, and entered into a close partnership with I-k'uang in the ill-concealed disposal of offices. The latter was interested in these political intrigues for mercenary reasons, and Yüan for the power it gave him. Had Emperor Tê-tsung outlived the Empress Dowager and thus been able to resume his power, Yüan's fate might well have been different; for it is not likely that his betrayal of the Reform Movement in 1898 would have gone unavênged. The sudden, and possibly unnatural, death of the Emperor within a day or so of the death of the Empress Dowager aroused suspicions in the minds of many, but there the matter rests. Not long after the deceased Emperor's younger brother, Tsai-fêng (see under I-huan), became Regent, a censor, named Chao Ping-lin 趙病霖 (T. 伯巖, H. 竺垣, b. 1873), charged Yüan in a memorial with having unduly furthered his own interests, and with having incurred the disapproval of the deceased Emperor. Being a weakling, the Regent did not press his case against Yüan, but did issue, on January 2, 1909, an edict ordering him to retire, on the ground that he was incapacitated by an ailment in his foot. Though shorn thus of his power, he escaped nevertheless with his life, and lived for most of the ensuing three years in a country villa at Wei-hui, Honan.
On October 10, 1911 the anti-Manchu Revolution broke out at Wuchang and yüan had an opportunity to retaliate against the Regent. The latter Legged him (October 14) to emerge from retirement and serve as governor-general at Wuchang, but he replied that the "ailment" in his foot had not yet been cured. The Regent, pressed by ever-increasing revolts, and urged by pro-Yüan officers of the army, repeated his requests for Yüan's help, agreeing at the same time to nearly all his demands. On October 22 Yüan consented to assume the post of governor-general, and five days later displaced the Manchu, Yin-ch'ang, as commander-in-chief of all the armies in North China then fighting the revolutionists. On November 1 he was named concurrently Premier, replacing the aged Prince Ch'ing. Fifteen days later he formed a cabinet whose members were, for the most part, his own followers. To demonstrate his military strêngth he ordered the imperial army at Hankow, commanded by Fêng Kuo-chang, to win a battle as soon as possible. After some severe fighting the imperial army defeated the revolutionists commanded by Li Yüan-hung 黎元洪 (T. 宋卿, 1864–1928, President of the Republic, 1916–17, 1921–23) and Huang Hsing (see under Ch'iu Chin). By November 27 Hanyang was recovered and the revolutionists were dislodged from their positions north of the Yangtze River. For this victory Fêng Kuo-chang was created a baron; but the imperial army failed to press on, and there was virtually no more fighting in the Wuhan area. Elsewhere, however, the revolution spread rapidly and by the end of November most of the provinces had declared their independence of Manchu rule. On December 6 the Regent retired, leaving the final decision of the future of the Empire to Empress Hsiao-ting and her adopted son, the child Emperor P'u-i (for both see under Tsai-t'ien). The Empress decided to make peace with the revolutionists and on December 7 gave Yüan full authority to conduct negotiations with them. In the meantime Yüan used his immense political and military powers to promote his own interests.
During the peace negotiations, the leader of the Revolution, Sun Yat-sen (see under T'an Ssŭ-t'ung), was elected by the National Assembly at Nanking to be President of the Provisional Government of the Chinese Republic—taking the oath of office on January 1, 1912. This government resolutely demanded the abdication of the Manchu Emperor. Some Manchus strongly protested this abrogation of their power, but when one of their leaders, the above-mentioned Liang-pi, was mortally wounded by an assassin on January 26 they became alarmed and lapsed into silence. Empress Hsiao-ting tried for a time to win Yüan's loyal support by offering him the hereditary rank of a marquis, but he declined the honor. Finally she agreed for her adopted son to abdicate on February 12, designating Yüan as the head of the new government. By labyrinthine methods he reached a bargain with the government at Nanking whereby, on February 14, the National Assembly elected him successor to Sun Yat-sen as President of the Provisional Government of the Republic, the election being held on the basis of a Provisional Constitution. On March 10, 1912, Yüan, then aged fifty-four (sui), took the oath of office in Peking.
Yüan Shih-k'ai was not interested in democratic government, nor were his henchmen, the army officers who came later to be known as the Peiyang militarists, or the officials whom he accepted from the old regime. Opposed to Yüan's faction, were the revolutionists, who were nearly all adherents of the new political party known as the Kuo-min-tang 國民黨. Between the two camps were the more enlightened conservatives. After assuming the Presidency, Yüan took further steps to consolidate his power. With the help of foreign loans, he was able to finance an expanded army and win over corrupt politicians; those whom he could not control he eliminated by coercion and violence. In 1913 the revolutionists in South China made sporadic efforts to dislodge him by force, but they were no match for his trained army, and were easily crushed in July of that year—the net result being that some territory previously controlled by the revolutionists was brought under Yüan's control. Not satisfied with being the head of a Provisional Government, he applied increasing pressure on Parliament which, under guard of troops, elected him President on October 6, 1913. Before long he ordered the dissolution of the Kuo-min-tang and the arrest of its members—an act which made a quorum in Parliament impossible, so that Parliament too was dissolved on January 10, 1914. He then directed the drafting of a constitution which gave him dictatorial powers (May 1914), and which before long was revised to give him the presidency for life, and even the right to name his successor.
Having gone so far, it is not surprising that early in 1915 Yüan Shih-k'ai began preparations to assume the title of Emperor. In the spring these preparations were temporarily postponed in view of Japan's "Twenty-one Demands", but were resumed in August. A central organization was set up in Peking to direct the provincial governments and civil organizations to submit petitions "requesting" him to become Emperor. In response to these petitions, which appeared to reflect the "unanimous" opinion of the people, he announced that the imperial reign title, Hung-hsien 洪憲, would be used beginning January 1, 1916. However, opponents of this monarchic scheme rallied in Yunnan where a revolution began on December 25, 1915, with secret Japanese support. In two months a large section of the country joined the revolt, and Yüan was forced to revoke plans for the enthronement, announcing at the same time his resumption of the Presidency (March 22). But the revolution continued, and a movement arose demanding his resignation. On June 6 he died. The Pei-yang militarists, now without a leader, began to maneuver for territory and influence. In the ensuing ten years the country was harrassed by war-lordism and by inter-provincial strife until, late in the 1920's, the rejuvenated Kuo-min-tang, with a new national army, swept most of the older officials from office.
Despite his obvious shortcomings, Yüan Shih-k'ai was a man of great energy who attended assiduously to the details of national affairs. His public documents are generally clear and forceful, but they have not yet been fully assembled. Some of the records of his administration as Pei-yang ta-Ch'ên were published in 1907 under the title, 北洋公牘類纂 Pei-yang kung-tu lei-tsüan, 25 chüan. The writings of Yüan Chia-san, Yüan Pao-hêng, Yüan Pao-ch'ing and Yüan Pao-ling were printed in 1911 in the collection, 項城袁氏家集 Hsiang-ch'êng Yüan-shih chia-chi, 65 chüan, in which there appears some biographical information concerning the members of the family.
[1/424/1a; 2/50/5a; 5/26/14a; 2/53/12a; 5/13/20b; 容庵弟子記 Jung-an-ti-tzŭ chi (4 chüan, printed in 1913); Hsiang-ch'êng hsien-chih (1911); 大中華雜誌 Ta Chung-hua tsa-chih, vol. 2 (1916); Ch'ing Kuang-hsü ch'ao Chung-Jih chiao-shê shih-liao (see bibl. under Li Hung-chang); Wang Yün-shêng, Liu-shih-nien lai Chung-kuo yü Jih-pên (Chinese and Japanese Relations in the Past Sixty Years), vols. 1, 6, 7; Chou Fu (see under Li Hung-chang), Chou K'o-shên kung tzŭ-ting nien-p'u (autobiography); 參議院公報 Ts'an-i-yüan kung-pao, vols. 1–13; 政治官報 Chêng-chih kuan-pao, Sept. 1907–June 1911; Nei-ko (內閣) kuan-pao, July 1911–Dec. 1911; Chêng fu (政府) kung-pao, Feb. 1912–July 1916; Liang Ch'i-ch'ao, Yin-ping-shih ho-chi (collected works, 1936), chuan-chi 33, wên-chi 33, 34; Allen, H. N., Korea, Fact and Fancy (1904); Johnston, R. F., Twilight in the Forbidden City (1934); Chin-shih jên-wu chih (see under Wêng T'ung-ho), p. 326; Chao Ping-lin, 光緒大事彙鑑 Kuang-hsü ta-shih hui-chien, in his collected works, 趙袹巖集 Chao Po-yen chi (1922–24); Reid, John Gilbert, The Manchu Abdication and the Powers, 1908–1912 (1935).]