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Martyrs and Militarism in Early Republican China by Henrietta Harrison The 1911 revolution that took China from monarchy to republic was remarkably bloodless when compared with the savagery of earlier and later wars. Nevertheless, there was serious fighting in several cities, among them Wuchang, where the revolution first broke out. At the end of the fighting there more than four thousand bodies were collected and buried outside the city ofHankou in six large graves. When the new republic was formed in 1912 there were plans to mark the site of the graves of these soldiers with a memorial, as had been done for the earlier revolutionary uprising in Guangzhou. In addition, the new president , Sun Yatsen, ordered the Ministry of Finance to provide funds for the establishment of an institution to care for the children of these Wuhan martyrs. None of the proposals appears to have been carried out and the site became a refuse dump and a place where unwanted corpses were disposed of. By the 1930s it had reverted to nature and was used for pasturing animals and growing vegetables. I By contrast, Peng Chufan, Yang Hongsheng and Liu Fuji, three radical revolutionaries who were executed just before the start of the uprising, were honored in a lasting way. The Hubei Military Commander used his position to raise funds for a shrine in their honor and for bronze statues of them to be cast. A surviving photograph of the site shows a decorated pavilion with a stele naming the three men. It was this Shrine to the Three Martyrs Peng, Yang and Liu that was used in later years for the annual sacrifices made to revolutionary martYrs.2 Such an arrangement was standard in China in the first half of this century. This paper tells the story of the failure of the model of the citizen as soldier; that is to say, the story of why the four thousand soldiers who died in the Wuchang Uprising were buried in mass graves and forgotten, while three radicals were honored with a temple. When Chinese national and provincial governments held sacrifices to the revolutionary dead, as they did every spring and autumn throughout the Republican period, they were presenting a model of citizenship to the people. This presentation of the revolutionary dead as models for the living was new to the republican state. The Qing government had sanctioned the building of temples to those who died in battle for the dynasty, but these were temples where the Twentieth-Century China, 23.2 (April 1998): 41-70 42 Twentieth-Century China spirits of the dead would receive proper worship. They were not primarily aimed to promote the values held by the dead soldiers among the general population. Of course the Qing also sanctioned the building of arches, temples and other memorials to men and women who were exemplars of moral values such as loyalty, filial piety and chastity. However these memorials too differed from the republican honors to the revolutionary dead in that the emphasis was placed on the moral value presented rather than on the death of the person to be honored. Indeed some such memorials could be proposed and erected while the person concerned was still alive. The early Republican period drew on Western and Japanese influences to initiate a cult of the revolutionary martyrs as models for citizenship that was thus quite different from earlier honors to either soldiers or moral exemplars. The cult of revolutionary martyrs presented models of citizenship to the citizens of the new republic. In doing so it represented the new state to itself and was thus one of the arenas in which debates over the nature of the state were played out. At the center of the debate was the question of whether the values of discipline and obedience, represented by soldiers, should be honored at the expense of the more flamboyant loyalty to one's personal conception of the nation, represented by the most famous revolutionary martyrs. While governments wished to honor examples of discipline and obedience, just as the Communist government of the People's Republic of China does today, in practice official commemorations often ended up honoring the far more...


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