Resolved to topple the Qing regime and build a republic, the revolutionaries rose up in arms. From the establishment of the Revive China Society (興中會) in 1894 to the 1911 Revolution, some 30 anti-Qing uprisings were staged by various revolutionary groups. The Revive China Society and its successor, the United League (同盟會), were particularly notable for rallying the overseas Chinese, secret anti-Qing societies, and even the new army to plan, launch, and spearhead at least 10 operations. Some of them and the key losses incurred are as follow:
(1) an uprising in Guangzhou (廣州) in October 1895 failed due to an intelligence leak. Lu Haodong (陸皓東) was captured and executed;
(2) an uprising in Huizhou (惠州), Guangdong Province (廣東), in October 1900 led to the death of Shi Jianru (史堅如), Yeung Ku-wan (楊衢雲), Zheng Shiliang (鄭士良), and other revolutionaries in succession.
(3) an uprising that spanned Pingxiang (萍鄉), Liuyang (瀏陽), and Liling (醴陵) in the provinces of Jiangxi (江西) and Hunan (湖南) in December 1906 cost the lives of many revolutionaries, including Liu Daoyi (劉道一);
(4) an uprising in Huanggang (黃岡), Chaozhou (潮州), Guangdong in May 1907;
(5) an uprising in Qinuhu (七女湖) of Huizhou in June 1907;
(6) a Restoration Society-led uprising in Anqing (安慶), Anhui Province (安徽), in July 1907 resulted in successive capture and execution of revolutionaries including Xu Xilin (徐錫麟) and Qiu Jin (秋瑾);
(7) an uprising that spanned Qinzhou (欽州), Lianzhou (廉州), and Fangcheng (防城), cities near the Guangdong-Guangxi (廣西) border, in September 1907;
(8) an uprising in Zhennan Pass (鎮南關), Guangxi, in December 1907;
(9) an uprising that spanned Qinzhou (欽州), Lianzhou (廉州) and Shangsi (上思), in March 1908;
(10) an uprising in Hekou (河口), Yunnan Province (雲南), in April 1908;
(11) an uprising by the Guangzhou New Army (廣州新軍) in February 1910;
(12) the April 1911 Guangzhou Uprising (later known as the Yellow Flower Mound﹝黃花崗﹞Uprising) led by Huang Xing (黃興). Grievous death toll was resulted.
A statue of Lu Haodong and the Lu Haodong Revolutionary Martyr’s Cemetery (陸皓東烈士墳場) in Zhongshan (中山). In the October 1895 Guangzhou Uprising launched by the Revive China Society, the “white sun in a blue sky” emblem designed by Lu made its first appearance on a flag hoisted by the revolutionaries. Unfortunately, the revolt failed due to an intelligence leak. Lu was only 27 years old when he was captured and killed. Sun Yat-sen (孫中山) called him “the first person in Chinese history who sacrificed his life for the revolution for the republic”.
On the left: the scene of the Huizhou Uprising, reenacted with models; on the right: Zheng Shiliang, a revolutionary leader. In October 1900, the Revive China Society launched its second uprising in Huizhou. The aftermath of the failed operation saw Shi Jianru, Yeung Ku-wan, and Zheng being captured and executed or assassinated one after the other.
On the left: the site where the Pingxiang-Liuyang-Liling Uprising was launched; on the right: the revolutionaries holding an oath of allegiance ceremony prior to the uprising in Huanggang, Chaozhou. After its establishment in 1905, the United League launched an uprising that spanned Pingxiang, Liuyang, and Liling in Jiangxi and Hunan in December 1906. The attempt was quashed by the Qing military and led to the death of Liu Daoyi, its leader. The incident became known as “Ping-Liu-Li Uprising”. In May 1907, the League failed the Huanggang Uprising as well.
The relief sculpture depicting the Qinuhu Uprising (七女湖起義) and an illustration of the battle during the Qin-Lian-Fangcheng Uprising (欽廉防城起義). In June and September 1907, the United League launched one uprising in Huizhou and another in Qinzhou, Lianzhou, and Fangcheng in the Guangdong-Guangxi border area respectively. Both attempts failed.
In July 1907, the Restoration Society (光復會) failed an uprising. Xu Xilin (left), followed by Qiu Jin (right), were captured and executed in Anqing, Anhui and Shaoxing (紹興), Zhejiang Province (浙江) respectively.
In December 1907, the United League sent Huang Mingtang (黃明堂) and other members to lead an uprising in Zhennan Pass, Guangxi. Sun Yat-sen and Huang Xing raced from Vietnam to Zhennan Pass to command at the frontlines (left). During the battle, Sun fired on the Qing army with a cannon himself. In March 1908, a group of revolutionaries led by Huang Xing attempted to capture the region encompassing Qinzhou, Lianzhou, and Shangsi. It became known as the “Qin-Lian-Shangsi Uprising” (right).
In April 1908, the United League staged an uprising in Hekou, Yunnan. In February 1910, another revolt was launched by the Guangzhou New Army. However, both attempts failed. On the left is an illustration depicting the Hekou Uprising; on the right is a photo of Ni Yingdian (倪映典), the leader of Guangzhou New Army Uprising. He was killed in the incident.
The successive failures did not weaken the revolutionaries’ resolve to overthrow the Qing dynasty and they continued to revolt. On 27 April 1911 (or 29 March by the Chinese lunar calendar), Huang Xing led a team of more than a hundred in a direct assault on the Viceroy of Liang-Guang (兩廣總督) office and engaged the Qing force in fierce battle.
The Qing force annihilated the 1911 Guangzhou Uprising. A staggering number of revolutionaries were killed, injured, or captured. All the captives went to their deaths with equanimity, many of whom had written their wills prior to the uprising. Among them, Lin Juemin’s (林覺民) Letter of Farewell to my Wife (《與妻訣別書》) remains the most known of this kind. On the left are the six captured revolutionaries right before their execution; on the right is Lin’s Letter of Farewell to my Wife written on a handkerchief.
Most of the revolutionaries who participated in the uprising on 27 April 1911 lost their lives. Their remains were buried in Huanghuagang (Yellow Flower Mound), an eastern suburb of Guangzhou. The names of 72 of the victims were confirmed shortly after the uprising failed. After the founding of the Republic of China, a mausoleum and monument were erected to mark the site, which became known as the Yellow Flower Mound Mausoleum of the 72 Revolutionary Martyrs (黃花崗七十二烈士墓).
Sources of most photos used in this feature piece: Fotoe (pictures 1-9), Visual China Group (picture 10).