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17: The Open Door in China and Japan

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Development of World Power in the East

Asia, the greatest of the continents and the seat of the earliest civilizations, yields us the most remarkable phenomenon in the history of mankind. In remote ages, while Europe lay plunged in the deepest barbarism, certain sections of Asia were marked by surprising activity in thought and progress. In three far-separated regions - China, India, and Babylonia - and in a fourth on the borders of Asia - Egypt - civilization rose and flourished for ages, while the savage and the barbarian roamed over all other regions of the earth. A still more extraordinary fact is, that during the more recent era, that of European civilization, Asia rested in the most sluggish conservatism, sleeping while Europe and America were actively moving, content with its ancient knowledge while the people of the West were pursuing new knowledge into its most secret lurking places.

And this conservatism seemed an almost immovable one. For a century England has been pouring new thought and new enterprise into India, yet the Hindus cling stubbornly to their remotely ancient beliefs and customs, though they show some signs of a political awakening. For half a century Europe has been hammering upon the gates of China, but not until recently did this sleeping nation show any signs of waking to the fact that the world was moving around it. As regards the other early civilizations - Babylonia and Egypt - they long ago were utterly swamped under the tide of Turkish barbarism and exist only in their ruins. Persia, once a great and flourishing empire, likewise sank under the flood of Arabian and Turkish invasion, and today seems in danger of being swallowed up in the tide of Russian and British ambition. Such was the Asia upon which the nineteenth century dawned, and such it remains in some measure today, though in parts of its vast area modern civilization has gained a firm foothold.

This is especially the case with the island empire of Japan, a nation the people of which are closely allied in race to those of China, yet who have displayed a greater progressiveness and a marked readiness to avail themselves of the resources of modern civilization. The development of Japan has taken place within a brief period. Previous to that time it was as resistant to western influences as China continued until a later date. They were both closed nations, prohibiting the entrance of modern ideas and peoples, proud of their own form of civilization and their own institutions, and sternly resolved to keep out the disturbing influences of the restless West. As a result, they remained locked against the new civilization until after the nineteenth century was well advanced, and China's disposition to avail itself of the results of modern invention was not manifested until the century was near its end.


China, with its estimated population of 300,000,000, attained to a considerable measure of civilization at a very remote period, but until very recently made almost no progress during the Christian era, being content to retain its old ideas, methods and institutions, which its people looked upon as far superior to those of the western nations. Great Britain gained a foothold in China as early as the seventeenth century, but the persistent attempt to flood the country with the opium of India, in disregard of the laws of the land, so angered the emperor that he had the opium of the British stores at Canton, worth $20,000,000, seized and destroyed. This led to the "Opium War" of 1840, in which China was defeated and was forced in consequence to accept a much greater degree of intercourse with the world, five ports being made free to the world's commerce and Hong Kong ceded to Great Britain. In 1856 an arbitrary act of the Chines authorities at Canton, in forcibly boarding a British vessel in the Canton River, led to a new war, in which the French joined the British and the allies gained fresh concessions from China. In 1859 the war was renewed, and Peking was occupied by the British and French forces in 1860, the emperor's summer palace being destroyed.

These wars had their effect in largely breaking down the Chinese wall of seclusion and opening the empire more fully to foreign trade and intercourse, and also in compelling the emperor to receive foreign ambassadors at his court in Peking. In this the United States was among the most successful of the nations, from the fact that it had always maintained friendly relations with China. In 1876 a short railroad was laid, and in 1877 a telegraph line was established. During the remainder of the century the telegraph service was widely extended, but the building of railroads was strongly opposed by the government, and not until the century had reached its end did the Chinese awaken to the importance of this method of transportation. They did, however, admit steam traffic to their rivers, and purchased some powerful ironclad naval vessels in Europe.


The isolation of Japan was maintained longer than that of China, trade with that country being of less importance, and foreign nations knowing and caring less about it. The United States has the credit of breaking down its long and stubborn seclusion and setting in train the remarkably rapid development of the island empire. In 1854 Commodore Perry appeared with an American fleet in the bay of Yeddo, and, by a show of force and a determination not to be rebuffed, he induced the authorities to make a treaty of commercial intercourse with the United States. Other nations quickly demanded similar privileges, and Japan's obstinate resistance to foreign intercourse was at an end.

The result of this was revolutionary in Japan. For centuries the Shogun, or Tycoon, the principal military noble, had been dominant in the empire, and the Mikado, the true emperor, relegated to a position of obscurity. But the entrance of foreigners disturbed conditions so greatly - by developing parties for and against seclusion - that the Mikado was enabled to regain his long-lost power, and in 1868 the ancient form of government was restored, the nobles being relegated to their original rank and their semi-feudal system overthrown.


The Japanese quickly began to show a striking activity in the acceptance of the results of western civilization, alike in regard to objects of commerce, inventions, and industries, and to political organization. The latter advanced so rapidly that in 1889 the old despotic government was, by the voluntary act of the emperor, set aside and a limited monarchy established, the country being given a constitution and a legislature, with universal suffrage for all men over twenty-five. This act is of remarkable interest, it being doubtful if history records any similar instance of a monarch decreasing his authority without appeal or pressure from his people. It indicates a liberal spirit that could hardly have been looked for in a nation that had so recently opened its doors. It was, however, probably the result of a previous compact with the nobles who aided the Mikado to regain his throne. Today, Japan differs little from the nations of Europe and America in its institutions and industries, and from being among the most backward, has taken its place among the most advanced nations of the world.

The Japanese army has been organized upon the European system, and armed with the most modern style of weapons, the German method of drill and organization being adopted. Its navy consists of about two hundred war vessels, built largely in British dockyards and manned by sailors trained under British officers. A number of powerful ships are in process of building. Railroads have been widely extended; telegraphs run everywhere; education is in an advancing stage of development, embracing an imperial university at Tokio, and institutions in which foreign languages and science are taught; and in a hundred ways Japan is progressing at a rate which is one of the greatest marvels of the twentieth century. This is particularly notable in view of the longer adherence maintained by the neighboring empire of China to its old customs, and the slowness with which it yielded to the influx of new ideas.


As a result of this difference in progress between the two nations we have to describe a remarkable event, one of the most striking evidences that could be given of the practical advantage of modern civilization. Near the end of the century war broke out between China and Japan, and there was shown to the world the singular circumstance of a nation of 40,000,000 people, armed with modern implements of war, attacking a nation of 300,000,000 - equally brave, but with its army organized on an ancient system - and defeating it as quickly and completely as Germany defeated France in the Franco-German War. This war, which represents a completely new condition of affairs in the continent of Asia, is of sufficient interest and importance to speak of at some length.

Between China and Japan lay the kingdom of Korea, separated by rivers from the former and by a strait of the ocean from the latter, and claimed as a vassal state by both, yet preserving its independence as a state against the pair. Japan invaded this country at two different periods in the past, but failed to conquer it. China has often invaded it, with the same result. Thus it remained practically independent until near the end of the nineteenth century, when the question of predominance in it became a cause of war between the two rival empires.

Korea long pursued the same policy as China and Japan, locking its ports against foreigners so closely that it became known as the Hermit Nation and the Forbidden Land. But it was forced to give way, like its neighbors. The opening of Korea was due to Japan. In 1876 the Japanese did to this secluded kingdom what Commodore Perry had done to Japan twenty-two years before. They sent a fleet to Seoul, the Korean capital, and by threat of war forced the government to open to trade the port of Fusan. In 1880 Chemulpo was made an open port. Later on the United States sent a fleet there which obtained similar privileges. Soon afterwards most of the nations of Europe were admitted to trade, and the isolation of the Hermit Nation was at an end. Less than ten years had sufficed to break down an isolation which had lasted for centuries. In less than twenty years after - in the year 1899 - an electric trolley railway was put in operation in the streets of Seoul - a remarkable evidence of the great change in Korean policy.


Korea was no sooner opened to foreign intercourse than China and Japan became rivals for influence in that country - a rivalry in which Japan showed itself the more active. The Koreans became divided into two factions, a progressive one that favored Japan, and a conservative one that favored China. Japanese and Chinese soldiers were landed upon its soil, and the Chinese aided their party, which was in ascendency among the Koreans, to drive out the Japanese troops. War was threatened, but it was a averted by a treaty in 1885 under which both nations agreed to withdraw their troops and to send no officers to drill the Korean soldiers.

The war, thus for the time averted, came nine years afterwards, in consequence of an insurrection in Korea. The people of that country were discontented. They were oppressed with taxes and by tyranny, and in 1894 the followers of a new religious sect broke out in open revolt. Their numbers rapidly increased until they were 20,000 strong, and they defeated the government troops, captured a provincial city, and put the capital itself in danger. The Min (or Chinese) faction was then at the head of affairs in the kingdom and called for aid from China, which responded by sending some two thousand troops and a number of war vessels to Korea. Japan, jealous of any such action on the part of China, responded by surrounding Seoul with soldiers, several thousands in number.

Disputes followed. China claimed to be suzerain of Korea and Japan denied it. Both parties refused to withdraw their troops, and the Japanese, finding that the party in power was acting against them, advanced on the capital, drove out the officials, and took possession of the palace and the king. A new government, made up of the party that favored Japan, was organized, and a revolution was accomplished in a day. The new authorities declared that the Chinese were intruders and requested the aid of the Japanese to expel them. War was close at hand.


China was at that time under the leadership of a statesman of marked ability, the famous Li Hung Chang, who, from being made viceroy of a province in 1870, had risen to be the prime minister of the empire. At the head of the empire was a woman, the Dowager Empress Tsu Tsi, who had usurped the power of the young emperor and ruled the state. It was to these two people in power that the war was due. The dowager empress, blindly ignorant of the power of the Japanese, decided that these "insolent pigmies" deserved to be chastised. Li, her right-hand man, was of the same opinion. At the last moment, indeed, doubts began to assail his mind, into which came a dim idea that the army and navy of China were not in shape to meet the forces of Japan. But the empress was resolute. Her sixtieth birthday was at hand and she proposed to celebrate it magnificently; and what better decorations could she display than the captured banners of these insolent islanders? So it was decided to present a bold front, and, instead of the troops of China being removed, reinforcements were sent to the force at Asan.


There followed a startling event. On July 25th three Japanese men-of-war, cruising in the Yellow Sea, came in sight of a transport loaded with Chinese troops and convoyed by two ships of the Chinese navy. The Japanese admiral did not know of the seizure of Seoul by the land forces, but he took it to be his duty to prevent Chinese troops from reaching Korea, so he at once attacked the warships of the enemy, with such effect that they were quickly put to flight. Then he sent orders to the transport that it should put about and follow his ships.

This the Chinese generals refused to do. They trusted to the fact that they were on a chartered British vessel and that the British flag flew over their heads. The daring Japanese admiral troubled his soul little about this foreign standard, but at once opened fire on the transport, and with such effect that in half an hour it went to the bottom, carrying with it one thousand men. Only about one hundred and seventy escaped.

On the same day that this terrible act took place on the waters of the sea, the Japanese left Seoul en route for Asan. Reaching there, they attacked the Chinese in their intrenchments and drove them out. Three days afterwards, on August 1, 1894, both countries issued declarations of war.

Of the conflict that followed, the most interesting events were those that took place on the waters, the land campaigns being an unbroken series of successes for the well-organized and amply-armed Japanese troops over the medieval army of China, which went to war fan and umbrella in hand, with antiquated weapons and obsolete organization. The principal battle was fought at Ping Yang on September 15th, the Chinese losing 16,000 killed, wounded and captured, while the Japanese loss was trifling. In November the powerful fortress of Port Arthur was attacked by army and fleet, and surrendered after a two days' siege. Then the armies advanced until they were in the vicinity of the Great Wall, with the soil and capital of China not far before them.


With this brief review of the land operations, we must return to the movements of the fleets. Backward as the Chinese were on land, they were not so on the sea. Li Hung Chang, a born progressive, had vainly attempted to introduce railroads into China, but he had been more successful in regard to ships, and had purchased a navy more powerful than that of Japan. The heaviest ships of Japan were cruisers, whose armor consisted of deck and interior lining of steel. The Chinese possessed two powerful battleships, with 14-inch iron armor and turrets defended with 12-inch armor, each carrying four 12-inch guns. Both navies had the advantage of European teaching in drill, tactics, and seamanship. The Ting Yuen, the Chinese flagship, had as virtual commander an experienced German officer named Von Hanneken; the Chen Yuen, the other big ironclad, was handled by Commander McGiffen, formerly of the United States navy. Thus commanded, it was expected in Europe that the superior strength of the Chinese ships would ensure them an easy victory over those of Japan. The event showed that this was a decidedly mistaken view.

It was the superior speed and the large number of rapid-fire guns of the Japanese vessels that saved them from defeat. The Chinese guns were mainly heavy Krupps and Armstrongs. They had also some machine guns, but only three quick-firers. The Japanese, on the contrary, had few heavy armor-piercing guns, but were supplied with a large number of quick-firing cannon, capable of pouring out shells in an incessant stream. Admiral Ting and his European officers expected to come at once to close quarters and quickly destroy the thin-armored Japanese craft. But the shrewd Admiral Ito, commander of the fleet of Japan, had no intention of being thus dealt with. The speed of his craft enabled him to keep his distance and to distract the aim of his foes, and he proposed to make the best use of this advantage. Thus equipped, the two fleets came together in the month of September, and an epoch-making battle in the history of the ancient continent of Asia was fought.


On the afternoon of Sunday, September 16, 1894, Admiral Ting's fleet, consisting of 11 warships, 4 gunboats, and 6 torpedo boats, anchored off the mouth of the Yalu River. They were there as escorts to some transports, which went up the river to discharge their troops. Admiral Ito had been engaged in the same work farther down the coast, and early on Monday morning came steaming towards the Yalu in search of the enemy. Under him were in all twelve ships, none of them with heavy armor, one of them an armed transport. The swiftest ship in the fleet was the YOSHINO, capable of making twenty-three knots, and armed with 44 quick-firing Armstrongs, which would discharge nearly 4,000 pounds weight of shells every minute. The heaviest guns were long 13-inch cannon, of which four ships possessed one each, protected by 12-inch shields of steel. Finally, they had an important advantage over the Chinese in being abundantly supplied with ammunition.

With this formidable fleet, Ito steamed slowly to the north-westward. Early on Monday morning he was off the island of Hai-yun-tao. At 7 A.M. the fleet began steaming north-eastward. It was a fine autumn morning. The sun shone brightly, and there was only just enough of a breeze to ripple the surface of the water. The long line of warships cleaving their way through the blue waters, all bright with white paint, the chrysanthemum of Japan shining like a golden shield on every bow, and the same emblem flying in red and white from every masthead, formed a striking spectacle. Some miles away to port rose the rocky coast and the blue hills of Manchuria; on the other side was the Korean Gulf.

Omitting details of the long and uninteresting fight which followed it may be said that the most remarkable feature of the battle of the Yalu was that it took place between two nations which, had the war broken out forty years earlier, would have done their fighting with fleets of wooden junks and weapons of the past centuries. As an object lesson of the progress of China and Japan in modern ideas it is of the greatest interest, though results were drawn.


In January, 1895, the Japanese fleet advanced against the strongly fortified stronghold of Wei Hai Wei, on the northern coast of China. Here a force of 25,000 men was landed successfully, and attacked the fort in the rear, quickly capturing its landward defenses. The stronghold was thereupon abandoned by its garrison and occupied by the Japanese. The Chinese fleet lay in the harbor, and surrendered to the Japanese after several ships had been sunk by torpedo boats.

China was now in a perilous position. Its fleet was lost, its coast strongholds of Port Arthur and Wei Hai Wei were held by the enemy, and its capital was threatened from the latter place and by the army north of the Great Wall. A continuation of the war promised to bring about the complete conquest of the Chinese empire, and Li Hung Chang, who had been degraded from his official rank in consequence of the disasters to the army, was now restored to all his honors and sent to Japan to sue for peace. In the treaty obtained China was compelled to acknowledge the independence of Korea, to cede to Japan the island of Formosa and the Pescadores group, and that part of Manchuria occupied by the Japanese army, including Port Arthur, also to pay an indemnity of 300,000,000 taels and open seven new treaty ports. This treaty was not fully carried out. The Russian, British, and French ministers forced Japan, under threat of war, to give up her claim to the Liao-tung peninsula and Port Arthur, which stronghold was soon after obtained, under long lease, by the Russians.


The story of China during the few remaining years of the century may be briefly told. The evidence of its weakness yielded by the war with Japan was quickly taken advantage of by the great Powers of Europe, and China was in danger of going to pieces under their attacks, which grew so decided and ominous that rumors of a partition between these Powers of the most ancient and populous empire of the world filled the air.

In 1898 decided steps in this direction were taken. Russia leased from China for ninety -nine years Port Arthur and Talien Wan, and took practical possession of Manchuria, through which a railroad was built connecting with the Trans-Siberian road, while Port Arthur afforded her an ice-free harbor for her Pacific fleet. Great Britain, jealous of this movement on the part of Russia, forced from the unwilling hands of China the port of Wei Hai Wei, and Germany demanded and obtained the cession of a port at Kiau Chau, farther down the coast, in retribution for the murder of some missionaries. France, not to be outdone by her neighbors, gained concessions of territory in the south, adjoining her Indo-China possessions, and Italy, last of all, came into the Eastern market with a demand for a share of the nearly defunct empire.

The nations appeared to be settling on China in all directions and to be ready to tear the antique commonwealth to pieces between them. Within the empire itself revolutionary changes took place, the dowager empress having first deprived the emperor of all power and then enforced his abdication.

Meanwhile one important result came from the war. Li Hung Chang and the other progressive statesmen of the empire, who had long been convinced that the only hope of China lay in its being thrown open to Western science and art, found themselves able to carry out their plans, the conservative opposition having seriously broken down. The result of this was seen in a dozen directions. Railroads, long almost completely forbidden, gained free "right of way," and promised in the near future to traverse the country far and wide. Steamers ploughed their way for a thousand miles up the Yang-tse-Kiang; engineers became busy exploiting the coal and iron mines of the Flowery Kingdom; great factories, equipped with the best modern machinery, sprang up in the foreign settlements; foreign books began to be translated and read; and the empress even went so far as to receive foreign ambassadors in public audience and on a footing of outward equality in the "forbidden city" of Peking, long the sacredly secluded center of an empire locked against the outer world.

The increase of European interference in China, with indications of a possible intention to dismember that ancient empire and divide its fragments among the land-hungry nations of the West, was viewed in China with dread and indignation, the feeling of hostility extending to the work of the missionaries, who were probably viewed by many as agents in the movement of invasion.


The hostile sentiment thus developed was indicated early in 1900 by the outbreak of a Chinese secret society known by a name signified in English by the word "boxers." These ultra-patriots organized an anti-missionary crusade in several provinces of North China in which many missionaries and native Christians were killed. The movement extended from the missionary settlements to include the whole foreign movement in China, and was evidently encouraged by the dowager empress and her advisers.

As a result the outbreak spread to Peking, where Baron von Ketteler, the German minister, was killed, several of the legation buildings were destroyed, and more than two hundred refugees were besieged within the walls of the British legation. The danger to which the ministries and their assistants and families were exposed aroused Europe and America, and as the Chinese government took no steps to allay the outbreak, a relief expedition was organized, in which United States, British, French, German, Russian and Japanese forces took part.

The fleet of the allies bombarded and destroyed the Taku forts, and heavy fighting took place at Tien-tsin, Pie-tsang and Yang-tsun. The military expedition reached Peking and rescued the besieged on August 14, 1906, the empress and her court fleeing from the capital. A peace treaty was signed on September 7, 1907, one of the conditions of which was that China should pay an indemnity of $320,000,000 to the foreign Powers. The share of this allotted to the United States was $24,440,000, but after a portion of this had been paid the United States in 1908 remitted $10,800,000, on the ground that this was in excess over its actual expense. This act of generosity won the earnest gratitude of China.

This event, significant of the latent and active hostilities between the East and the West, was followed by a much greater one in 1904-05, when Japan had the hardihood to engage in war with the great European empire of Russia and the unlooked-for ability and good fortune to defeat its powerful antagonist.


This contest, which takes its place among the great wars of modern times, must be dealt with briefly here, as it belongs to European history only in the minor sense of a European country being engaged in it. It arose from the encroachments of Russia in the Chinese province of Manchuria and fears on the part of Japan that the scope of Russian designs might include the invasion and conquest of that country.

As already stated, Russia secured a lease of Port Arthur, at the southern extremity of Manchuria, from China in 1896. Subsequently the Siberian Railway was extended southward from Harbin to this place, the harbor was deepened, and building operations were begun at a new town named Dalny, which was to be made Asia's greatest port. The line of the railway was strongly guarded with Russian troops.

These movements of Russia excited suspicion in Great Britain and Japan, which countries so strongly opposed the military occupation by Russia of Chinese territory that in 1901 Russia agreed to withdraw her troops within the following year, to restore the railway to China, and subsequently to give up all occupation of Chinese territory.

Of these agreements only the first was kept, and that only temporarily. In 1903 Japan proposed an agreement with Russia to the effect that both parties should respect the integrity of China and Korea, while the interest of Japan in Korea and that of Russia in Manchuria should be recognized. The refusal of Russia to accept this proposition overcame the patience of Japan, whose rulers saw clearly that Russia had no intention of withdrawing from the country occupied or of hampering her future purposes with agreements. In fact Japan's own independence seemed threatened.


The result was in consonance with the Japanese character. In February, 1904, Japan withdrew her minister from the capital of Russia and three days later, without the formality of a declaration of war, attacked the Russian fleets at Chemulpo and Port Arthur. The result was the sinking of two Russian ships in Chemulpo harbor, and the disabling of a number of vessels at Port Arthur.

Troops were landed at the same time. Seoul, the capital of Korea, was occupied, and an army marched north to Ping-Yang. The first land engagement took place on the Yalu on April 30th, the Japanese forces under General Kuroki attacking and defeating the Russians at that point, and making a rapid advance into Manchuria.

Meanwhile Admiral Togo had been busy at Port Arthur. On April 13th he sent boats in shore to plant mines. Makharov, the Russian admiral, followed these boats out until he found Togo awaiting him with a fleet too strong for him to attack. On his return his flag-ship, the PETROPAVLOVSK, struck one of the mines and went down with her crew of 750 and Makharov himself. The smaller ships reached harbor in bad shape from their experience of Togo's big guns. On August 10th, the Port Harbor fleet was again roughly handled by the Japanese, and some days later a Vladivostock squadron, steaming southward to reinforce the Port Arthur fleet, was met and defeated. This ended the naval warfare for that period, all the ships which Russia had on the Pacific being destroyed or seriously injured.


On land the Japanese made successful movements to the north and south. An army under General Oku landed in the Liao-tung peninsula early in May, cut the railway to Port Arthur, and captured Kin-chau, nearly forty miles from that port. There followed a terrible struggle on the heights of Nan-Shan, ending in the repulse of the Russian garrison, with a loss of eighty guns. This success gave the Japanese control of Dalny, which formed for them a new base. General Nogi soon after landed with a strong force and took command of the operation against Port Arthur.

The northern army met with similar success, General Kuroki fighting his way to the vicinity of Liao-yang, where he soon had the support of General Nozdu, who had landed an army in May. Oku, marching north from the peninsula, also supported him, the three generals forcing Kuropatkin, the Russian commander-in-chief, back upon his base. Marshal Oyama, a veteran of former wars, was made commander-in-chief of the Japanese armies.

Liao-tung became the seat of one of the greatest battles of the war, lasting seven days, the number of dead and wounded being over 30,000. It ended in the retreat of Kuropatkin's army, which fell back upon the line of defenses covering Mukden, the Manchurian capital. Here he was again attacked by Kuroki, who captured the key of the Russian position on the 1st of September, and held it until reinforcements arrived.

For a month the armies faced each other south of Mukden, the resting spell ending in a general advance of the Russian army, which had been largely reinforced. In the battle that followed the Russians lost heavily, but failed to break the Japanese lines, and after a fortnight of hard fighting both sides desisted from active hostilities, holding their positions with little change.


Meanwhile Port Arthur had become closely invested. One by one the hills surrounding the harbor were taken by the Japanese, after stubborn resistance. Big siege guns were dragged up and began to batter the town and the ships. On August 16th, General Stoessel, commander at Fort Arthur, having refused to surrender, a grand assault was ordered by Nogi. It proved unsuccessful, while the assailants lost 14,000 men. The bombardment continued, the buildings and ships suffering severely. Finally tunnels were cut through the solid rock and on December 20th the principal stronghold in the east was carried by storm. Other forts were soon taken and on January 2, 1905, the port was surrendered, the Japanese obtaining 40,000 prisoners, 59 forts, about 550 guns, and other munitions. The fleet captured consisted of four damaged battleships, two damaged cruisers and a considerable number of smaller craft.

We left the armies facing each other at Mukden in late September. They remained there until February, 1905, without again coming into contact, and no decisive action took place until March. Kuropatkin's force had meanwhile been largely reinforced, through the difficult aid of the one-tracked Siberian railway, and was now divided into three armies or approximately 150,000 each. Oyama had also received large reinforcements and now had 500,000 men under his command. These consisted of the armies under Kuroki, Nozdu and Oku, and the force of Nogi released by the capture of Port Arthur.

General Grippenburg had command of one of the Russian armies and on January 25th took position on the left bank of the Hun River. Here, in the month following, he lost 10,000 of his men, and then threw up his post, declaring that his chief had not properly supported him. On January 19th, a Japanese advance in force began, attacking with energy and forcing Kuropatkin to withdraw his center and left behind the line of the Hun. Here he fiercely attacked Oku and Nogi, for the time checking their advance. But Bilderling and Linievitch just then fell into difficulties and it became necessary to retreat, leaving Mukden to the enemy.

There were no further engagements of importance between the armies, though they remained face to face for months in a long line south of Harbin. Kuropatkin during this time was relieved from command, Linievitch being appointed to succeed him. The remaining conflict of the war was a naval one, of remarkable character.


Russia, finding its Pacific fleet put out of commission, and quite unable to face the doughty Togo, had despatched a second fleet from the Baltic, comprising nearly forty vessels in all. These made their way through the Suez Canal and Indian Ocean and moved upward through the Chinese and Japanese Seas, finding themselves on May 27, 1905, in the strait of Tsushuma, between Korea and Japan. Hitherto not a hostile vessel had been seen. Togo had held his fleet in ambush, while keeping scouts on the lookout for the coming Russians.

Suddenly the Russians found themselves surrounded by a long line of enemies, which had suddenly appeared in their front. The attack was furious and irresistible; the defense weak and ineffective. Night was at hand, but before it came five Russian warships had gone to the bottom. A torpedo attack was made during the night and the general engagement resumed next morning. When a halt was called, Admiral Togo had sunk, disabled or captured eight battleships, nine cruisers, three coast-defense ships, and a large number of other craft, the great Russian fleet being practically a total loss, while Togo had lost only three torpedo boats and 650 men. The losses in men by the Russians was 4,000 killed, and 7,300 prisoners taken. Altogether it was a naval victory which for completeness has rarely been equaled in history.

Russia, beaten on land and sea, was by this time ready to give up the struggle, and readily accepted President Roosevelt's suggestion to hold a peace convention in the United States. The terms of the treaty were very favorable to Russia, all things considered; but the power of Japan had been strained to the utmost, and that Power felt little inclined to put obstacles in the way. The island of Sakhalin was divided between them, both armies evacuated Manchuria, leaving it to the Chinese, and Port Arthur and Dalny were transferred to Japan.

Yet though Japan received no indemnity and little in the way of material acquisitions of any kind, she came out of the war with a prestige that no one was likely to question, and has since ranked among the great Powers of the world. And she has added considerably to her territory by the annexation of Korea, in which there was no one to question her right.


While Japan was manifesting this progress in the arts of war, China was making as great a progress in the arts of peace. The building of railroads, telegraphs, modern factories, and other western innovations proceeded apace, modern literature and systems of education were introduced, and the old competitive examinations for office, in the Confucian literature and philosophy, were replaced by examinations in modern science and general knowledge. Yet most surprising of all was the great political revolution which converted an autocratic empire which had existed for four or five thousand years into a modern constitutional republic of advanced type. This is the most surprising political overturn that history anywhere presents.

For many years a spirit of opposition to the Manchu rulers had existed and had led more than once to rebellions of great scope. The success of Japan in war was followed in China by a revolutionary movement whose first demand was for a constitutional government, this leading, on September 20, 1907, to an imperial decree outlining a plan for a national assembly. On July 22, 1908, another decree provided for provincial assemblies to serve as a basis for a future parliament. Later the government promised to introduce a parliamentary system within nine years.

The idea of such a government spread rapidly throughout the country, and the demand arose for an immediate parliament. As the government resisted this demand, the revolutionary sentiment grew, and in October, 1911, a rebellious movement took place at Wuchang which rapidly spread, the rebels declaring that the Manchu dynasty must be overthrown.

Soon the movement became so threatening that the emperor issued a decree appealing to the mercy of the people, and abjectly acknowledging that the government had done wrong in many particulars. Yuan Shi-Kai, a prominent revolutionary statesman, was made prime minister and a national assembly convened. It had become too late, however, to check the movement, and at the end of 1911 a new republic was announced at Nanking, under the provisional presidency of Dr. Sun Yat-Sen, a student of modern institutions in Europe and America. The abdication of the emperor quickly followed, in February 12, 1912, ending a Manchu dynasty which had held the throne for 267 years. Yuan Shi-Kai was later chosen as president.

This is a very brief account of the radical revolution that took place and we cannot go into the details of what succeeded. It must suffice to say that the republic has since persisted, Yuan Shi-Kai still serving as president. The republic has a parliament of its own; a president and cabinet and all the official furniture of a republican government. There is only needed an education of the people into the principles of free government "of the people, for the people, and by the people" to complete the most remarkable political revolution the world has yet known.

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