The Causes and Consequences of the Opium Wars on Nineteenth Century China

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Opium is a drug that has been used for medicinal purposes since the Neolithic Age, nearly four thousand years ago (Cowell). Today, some of the components of opium are used in heroin, a more powerful drug than opium that calms the body but harms later on. As seen in The Good Earth, opium is dangerous, as it killed Wang Lung’s uncle quickly and effectively, even though the uncle enjoyed the opium very much. Opium is still used as a painkiller, but if consumed in excess, it will eventually kill. History will explain the political impact of the Opium Wars on China by discussing its past and its facts, the Opium Wars themselves, and the causes and effects of the Opium Wars.
Historically, opium was a drug that was used to ease pain during surgeries such as tooth pulling and amputations (Cowell). “Opium is produced from the opium poppy, a flowering plant native to Turkey.” It contains a latex solution, which is raw opium and includes morphine and other alkaloids. Raw opium can be eaten or diluted in a liquid, but it is usually boiled then dried so it can be smoked. The opium trade began due to a loss of British silver from the Americas. The Chinese were only exporting goods to Britain and not importing any goods, causing Britain to lose most of its silver. Britain decided to sell the addicting opium, grown in present-day India and Pakistan, to China. As more people became addicted to the drug, the more China had to buy from Britain, and the more silver Britain got back from the Chinese. In 19th century China, there were merits and demerits to the opium trade. “They [The Legalizers of Opium] argued that legalization would generate tax revenues and they believed prohibition was expensive and strengthened the feared lower bureaucracy. The ...

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