Boxer Rebellion

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Caption reads: Some of China's troublemakers - "Boxer" Prisoners captured and brought in by 6th U.S. Cavalry, Tientsin [Tianjin], China.

The Boxer Rebellion was an outbreak of anti-foreign violence that occurred in China during 1900.

In the years leading up to the rebellion there was a growing ill-feeling in China, particularly in the north of the country, in response to the growth in European commerce. In addition to this there was also the acquisition of Kiaochow by Germany in 1897, Port Arthur by Russia and Wei-hai-wei by the British Empire, both in 1898.

In order to stem the tide of European expansion The Chinese government, in collusion with the dowager Empress Tzu Hsi, set up a secret organisation whose name translated as 'The Society of Harmonious Fists', its members were popularly termed 'Boxers'. Many young Chinese were drawn to the society seeing it as an outlet for their emotions towards the West. The society was responsible for attacks on missionaries and Christian converts, however when they began attacking foreign-controlled railways the European powers took measures to safeguard their nationals, sending reinforcements to China.

When the reinforcements, led by Admiral Seymour, attempted to make their way to Peking (then the capital) they were fired upon by the forts at Taku. Immediately the violence in Peking escalated. On 19th June the German Minister was assassinated and the foreign legations placed under siege. On 14th August, over 2 months later, the legations where relieved by a six-nation force, in what proved to be an early international coalition (just 14 years before WWI), which promptly looted the capital. Later in the year a German expeditionary force, under von Waldersee, took strong punitive measures to avenge the murder of the German Minister. The uprising in Peking is the most noteworthy however there were less bloody risings in the provinces of Shensi and Manchuria that were dealt with by the Russians.

Despite the ruthless manner in which the rebellion was quelled by the European powers it only acted to intensify the resentment that had caused it and drove many young Chinese into the Nationalist and Republican movements.