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Gregory, John Stradbroke (1957) British Attitudes and Policy Towards the Taiping Rebellion in China 1850-64. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI: https://doi.org/10.25501/SOAS.00033936

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Abstract

Part I surveys official attitudes and policy over the whole period of the rebellion. The main points developed are that the early policy of armed and limited neutrality was not significantly biassed in favour of either Manchus or Taipings, although official British opinion quickly came to discount the religious, political and commercial possibilities of the rebellion. By 1860 British neutrality was clearly inclined to favour the Manchus, especially after further treaty concessions had been forced from them by the war of 1856-60. But the idea that British policy changed quickly and decisively after that war is challenged, and it is pointed out that the intervention actually undertaken after 1862 was deliberately limited in extent and began in quite unpremeditated fashion. The main reason for the change in British policy is found in the official conviction that the rebellion was destructive of political order and therefore of the conditions for British trade in China, not in such things as fear of a strong, nationalist Taiping government which would prohibit the opium trade effectively. Part II surveys the attitudes of unofficial groups. British merchants, it is suggested, were somewhat dubious in their first reactions to the rebellion, yet were divided over the later policy of intervention, many considering this a dangerous provocation of a powerful movement which, up to 1862, had not seriously disrupted trade. British missionaries, although very hopeful and favourable towards the rebellion at first, always had considerable doubts about it. There was a renewal of missionary hopes about 1860-1, but closer observation led to almost total rejection by 1862, though, as with the merchants, many opposed intervention. There is no evidence that the merchants, still less the missionaries, decisively influenced the development of official policy. Other opinion on the rebellion is illustrated, the main point emerging being that there was much public debate about 1862-3 on the wisdom of the policy of intervention.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses > Proquest
DOI (Digital Object Identifier): https://doi.org/10.25501/SOAS.00033936
Date Deposited: 12 Oct 2020 17:24
URI: https://eprints.soas.ac.uk/id/eprint/33936

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