Sun Yat-sen

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Sun Yat-sen

Autograph letter signed.
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To the Russian revolutionary, journalist and writer Feliks Volkhovsky: "I shall be off at 1st of July, it would be most improbably that I could see you before my departure. But that will be a matter of no important, the only thing I hope is that you will be prospered and succeeded in the work of your national cause. The Chinese officials who have the right to study geography and sciences &c., I think, are those above the sixth grade. But such law or usage is pra[c]tically abolished in the recent years when China open to foreign intercourse. I could not tell you what is the number of members in the secret societies of China. It is very flourishing over all parts of China. But I was told especially in the two central provinces, Hunan and Hupek are more than three quarters of their population are enlistened as members; and the provinces in south east of China are also very numours [recte: numerous] of the same. As regard to what part of them is ready to take up arms in a revolt is a question of very hard to tell. All of them seem to ready but there is always something or other is wanted. And at present the Tartar government is greatly threatened and taking great precaution to prevent any uprising, and at the same time acquire foreign assistance by yielding, unconditionally, any demand of the great powers especially that of Russian French. It is most probably that your government would render any assistance to the Chinese government to put down any uprising in case of need. This would be the most stumbled to our movement. So we have to prepare not only to match with the Tartar but also to avert all the selfish and injustice intervention of the European Powers. I do not know when we could strike a[n] effective blow but we will not be daunted. If the Divine Destiny of the Human Races is liberty and equality we will bound to succeed. At any occasion if anything is happened we hope we will gain your sympathies in our cause [...]". - The critical state of affairs that existed in China between the years 1896 and 1898 was characterized by reform and upheaval, both of which the Tartar (Manchu) government under the conflicting leadership of the young emperor, Kuang-hsü, and the aging empress, Tz'u-his, tried to control. The Chinese had been shockingly defeated in the Sino-Japanese war of 1894-95, and the ensuing peace treaty had called for recognition of Korea's independence, an indemnity of 200,000,000 taels, and the cession of Taiwan, the Pescadores Islands, and the Liao-tung Peninsula. However, six days later, Russia Germany, and France forced Japan to restore the peninsula, which she did at the cost of 30,000,000 taels. "Gaining China's favour by this intervention, the three powers suddenly began to press China with demands, which gave rise to a veritable scramble for concessions. Immediately after the triple intervention, Russia succeeded in 1896 in signing a secret treaty alliance with China against Japan, by which Russia gained the right to construct the Chinese Eastern Railway across northern Manchuria". A second concession - the right to build two railways in Shantung - was granted to Germany in 1897. Others followed, forcing China into various leases and grants to Britain, France and Japan. China was therefore placed on the brink partition, a crisis which set the stage for the Hundred Days of Reform in 1898, followed by a furious and inevitable antiforeign uprising in Shantung - the Boxer Rebellion - in 1900 (Encyclopaedia Britannica). Sun Yat-sen's fears expressed in this letter, regarding the uprising that would hinder the progress of his movement, and the "selfish and [unjust] intervention of the European Powers", were thus not allayed, as one crisis after another followed in quick succession.


Sun Yat-sen

Letter signed ("Sun Wen").
Autograph ist nicht mehr verfügbar

Sun was an avowed anti-monarchist, and played an instrumental role in the overthrow of the centuries-old Qing dynasty (the last imperial dynasty of China) during the years leading up to the Xinhai Revolution (1911). He went on to become the first president of the Republic of China, and later founded the Kuomintang of China (Nationalist Party of China) in 1919. - From 1923 to 1926 Sun and the Kuomintang used Guangdong (his hometown) as a base to challenge the warlords in the north, who controlled much of the nation. In this letter, at the beginning of that effort, Sun identifies the urgent need to reclaim Guangdong, and addresses his army's needs to an apparent supporter "Our troops have battled across thousands of miles, their food consumption is huge and resources are scarce. If it was not for the joint effort by supporters within the country and overseas and their generous donations, how could we have embarked on this great mission." He then goes on to note: "At this extremely critical moment where success hangs by a thread, we summon up our courage and lead all kindred spirits, each exerting the final effort towards the cause of overcoming the evildoers to settle the chaos". - Some soiling, particularly to margins, multiple small tears, some reinforced and repaired but not affecting text, a few chips to edges. Sun Yat-sen material remains exceedingly rare, only five letters have appeared at auction in the last 30 years.