When Hong Xiuquan converted to Christianity in 1843 and began preaching from village to village in southern China, little did he know that he had started a religious movement that, by 1850, would have more than thirty-thousand members.1 These members, who called themselves the “Society of God Worshippers,” consisted primarily of poor and disenfranchised Chinese peasants who suffered greatly from the oppression of the Manchu dynasty.2 It was their discontent with the Manchu, paired with a desire for better treatment through a new ruling class, that turned their originally religious movement into a political one. Led by Hong Xiuquan, who declared that the Manchu rulers of the Qing dynasty had wrongfully usurped China, tens of thousands of Society members grouped together in December 1850 in an attack against Qing forces.3 Easily outnumbering the imperial soldiers, the God Worshippers took their first military victory and captured a small town, one of many territories to be rendered to their army.4 Their military prowess led Hong Xiuquan to, in 1851, found the Taiping Heavenly Kingdom and declare himself its “Heavenly King.”5 From 1850 to 1860, it seemed as if the Taiping army was unstoppable: they claimed province after province in some of the bloodiest battles in Chinese history. However, in July 1862, the Taipings were defeated at the Battle of Shanghai by Qing forces, who were assisted by the French and British. The Battle of Shanghai was a turning point in the Taiping rebellion and marked the beginning of the decline of the Heavenly Kingdom. It was also Hong’s first major defeat, and he did not take it well, spiraling into a state of hopelessness and depression that only was exacerbated in the years th...
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...next stage of his movement, calling for all the God Worshippers from across the districts in Guangxi Province to come together.
Over the next few days, tens of thousands of men and women assembled. All were eager to join Hong’s army, and many had even sold their houses and possessions in preparation. 18 On January 11, 1851, Hong led his army in an armed revolt against the Qing dynasty known as the Jintian uprising. Once again, the God Worshippers outnumbered the Qings and, with little effort, captured the town of Jintian (present-day Guiping). Relishing in his army’s first military victory, Hong established the Taiping Heavenly Kingdom. Although he was not yet sure how his newfound kingdom was going to run, at the moment it did not matter: a “political regime had at last emerged from Hong’s messianic vision, a regime that claimed dominion over all the empire.”19
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- Megan Yang History-Dr. K When Hong Xiuquan converted to Christianity in 1843 and began preaching from village to village in southern China, little did he know that he had started a religious movement that, by 1850, would have more than thirty-thousand members.1 These members, who called themselves the “Society of God Worshippers,” consisted primarily of poor and disenfranchised Chinese peasants who suffered greatly from the oppression of the Manchu dynasty.2 It was their discontent with the Manchu, paired with a desire for better treatment through a new ruling class, that turned their originally religious movement into a political one.... [tags: Heavenly Kingdom, Chinese History]
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