Column of Bengal Lancers

Boxer Rebellion of 1899-1901

There was a Chinese nationalist uprising in 1899-1900 against foreigners, the representatives of alien powers, and Chinese Christians. Expulsion of all foreigners from China was the ultimate objective of the uprising. The name Boxers (Yi He Quan) refers to "The Society of the Righteous and Harmonious Fist," a loose English translation of a Chinese term also meaning "righteous harmony band." In 1899 the Boxers, a secret society of Chinese, began a campaign of terror against Christian missionaries in the northeastern provinces. Although the Boxers were officially denounced, they were secretly supported by many of the royal court, including the dowager empress Cixi (Tz'u Hsi). Economic and political exploitation of China by various Western powers and Japan and humiliating military defeats inflicted by Great Britain in the Opium War (1840-1842) and by Japan in the Sino-Japanese War (1894-95) were the main causes of Chinese resentment.

They made a movie of the event, called "55 Days in Peking," starring Charleton Heston.

Bengal Lancers escort Count Alfred von Waldersee, commander of the forces that suppressed the Boxer Rebellion, to the Forbidden City.
Captured Boxer Prisoners

The terrorist activities of the Boxer society culminated on June 17, 1900, in a general uprising in Peking, capital of China. Many foreigners and others took refuge in the part of the city where the foreign legations were located; the The rebels placed the area under siege. In June 1900 Britain, Russia, Japan, the United States, Germany, France, Italy, and Austria combined forces, and suffered initial defeats. A relief expedition consisting of British, French, Japanese, Russian, German, and American troops relieved the besieged quarter and occupied Beijing (Peking) on Aug. 14, 1900. The US suffered 53 dead and 253 wounded in the rebellion. The relief forces retained possession of the city until a peace treaty was signed on September 7, 1901. By the terms of the treaty the Chinese were required to pay, over a period of 40 years, an indemnity of $333 million. Other treaty provisions included commercial concessions and the right to station foreign troops to guard the legations in Peking and to maintain a clear corridor from Beijing to the coast. The Middle Kingdom was under a de facto colonial rule. Despite U.S. efforts to stop further territorial encroachment, Russia extended its sphere of influence in Manchuria during the rebellion.

In 1908, the U.S. Senate passed a resolution remitting to China much of the U.S. share of the Boxer indemnity in the form of scholarships for Chinese students; in 1924, the Senate remitted all further payments.

Captured Boxer Prisoners
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