top of page



Chapter 2


Li Hongzhang: (lee hung jahng) 1823-1901. A Viceroy who served the Qing government in many high positions in the second half of the nineteenth century. Li became identified with the Chinese self-strengihening efforts, and with the development of technology in the provinces he administrated--innovations such as telegraph lines, railways, arms manufacture, and modern shipping. A protege of Zeng Guofan, Li went on to become the official negotiator for the Qing after the 1860s. Li and Zeng Guofan helped to develop the Zongli Yamen, the Foreign Language schools in Beijing and Shanghai, and the Jiangnan Arsenal in Shanghai.


Lin Zexu: (lynn tsuh shoe) 1785-1850- A Chinese scholar-official who served the Qing government, Lin was assigned to Guangzhou in 1838 as an imperial commissioner. His mission was to end the opium trade. He used his reputation to lead a domestic campaign against opium use, and firmly opposed foreign importation of the drug. In 1839, Lin confiscated and destroyed 20,000 chests of opium (three million pounds) taken from the British in Guangzhou. This act, along with British allegations of insult to the Union Jack and abuse of British citizens, directly lead to the first Opium War. Although demoted as a result of the Opium War, Lin remained influential on subsequent Chinese reformers.


Zeng Guofan: (tsung gwoe fahn) 1811-1872. The first great Chinese Viceroy, he served the Qing government in a variety of posts. He led the Imperial Army against the Taiping Rebellion (See Chapter 3). Zeng advocated both the strict Confucian virtues of discipline and loyalty to the emperor, as well as the adoption of Western technology, such as modern military organization and the production of armaments.


Chulalongkorn: 1853-1910. King of Siam from 1868 to 1910; ruled as Rama V. Chulalongkorn received both a traditional education and tutoring in Western education (the latter, being the basis for The King and I). He travelled to European colonies as a young man, and saw that Siam was, by comparison, corrupt and backwards. After his coronation, he attempted to institute reform. However, the existing order was opposed to change and it was not until the older generation of ministers retired or died that he was able to carry out his plans for reform (see text for details). Chulalongkorn worked tirelessly to establish Siam at a modern country, and was active in daily affairs of state.  Siam had to cede influence and territory to France and Britain. Nonetheless, with its improving rail system, expanding international trade, and its Western-style laws, Siam maintained its independence in nineteenth century Southeast Asia.


King Mongkut 1804-1868. King of Siam from 1851 to 1868; ruled as Ram IV. A devout Buddhist, Mongkut was a monk for 27 years. In the monastery, he was able to pursue his interests freely. One of his strongest points was language; he studied most of the languages of Mainland Southeast Asia, as well as Sanskrit and Pali (classical Indian languages important to Buddhism). He also studied Latin and English, and was an enthusiastic reader of Western books and newspapers. He had a particular fascination with Western science, and read as much as he could about foreign countries.

Mongkut wanted the Thai people to have status equal to Westerners To this end, he dedicated himself to improving international relations. He corresponded with many heads of state, including Queen Victoria, Napoleon III; presidents Pierce, Buchanan, and Lincoln; and Pope Pius IX. He also strove to modernize Siam, and implemented legal reforms, promoted modem medicine, and established a royal mint. A strong king, his leadership and ability preserved the integrity of the Thai state.

bottom of page