Sep 26, 2016
The history of China is pretty rad. For starters, China is the longest continually running civilization – going back to at /least/ 2100 BC. China has tons of great stories to tell.
Even at the end of the 19th century, China was still an Imperial Monarchy. In 1875, during the Qing/Manchu Dynasty, a woman named Qiu Jin was born in Fujian Province on China's Southeast coast. Qiu Jin's family was wealthy, and unlike their neighbours, made sure that she was provided with an excellent education. She believed very strongly in sacrificial duty, and idolized Chinese heroes such as Hua Mulan.
Qiu Jin identified with the Han Chinese and Confucian ideals during the Manchu Period in which she lived. She wanted to bring Han rule back to China. She was against the isolationist Qing rulers and wanted to bring Westernization & democracy to China.
Married in her 20s to Wang Tingjun – a wealthy man like her father – Qiu Jin became even more disillusioned. She often wrote that he acted like a buffoon and a spoiled brat. They moved to Beijing at the turn-of-the-century. Qiu Jin found many like-minded people to discuss with. She joined the Triads who were attempting to overthrow the Qing Emperor. During the Boxer Rebellion in 1901, she watched as Western troops occupied the city. She began giving away all her money to the rebels.
In 1903, she left her husband and two children, and traveled overseas to study in Japan. She joined a number of Anti-Qing revolutionary expatriate groups, including Sun Yat-Sen's Tongmenghui. She started wearing Western men's clothes, and was well-known as an accomplished horseback rider, swordswoman, & martial artist.
At a meeting in Japan deciding whether or not to return to China or continue to prepare in Japan. Qiu Jin supported return.
'If I return to the motherland, surrender to the Manchu barbarians, and deceive the Han people, stab me with this dagger!'
She then returned to China with 2,000 other students.
In addition to speaking for the end of Qing rule, Qiu Jin also spoke out for women's rights like the freedom to marry, freedom to get an education, and for an end to foot binding. She also started a women's journal, the 'China Woman's News,' though it was Quickly shut down by the government.
In 1907, she began running what she claimed was a school for sports teachers. In actuality, it was a school for revolutionaries and terrorists.
In July 1907, Qiu Jin and her cousin Xu Xilin were planning an uprising in Anqing. Xu Xilin was captured by the government. He was interrogated and executed, but not before confessing his involvement and implicating Qiu Jin. A week later, she too was arrested and tortured, but she denied any involvement in the plot. She was found guilty and beheaded.
Qiu Jin became a martyr and a heroine to the people of China. Five years later, the Chinese Empire would end and be supplanted by the Republic of China. Both the Republic of China and the communist People's Republic of China lionized Qiu Jin, and her former house is now a museum.
Resources for Social Studies Students & Teachers