Treaty of Nanking
Hong Kong Island
Hong Kong Island ceded to Britain
British East India Company
China (Qing dynasty)
Commanders and leaders
Humphrey Fleming Senhouse
Guan Tianpei †
Chen Huacheng †
Ge Yunfei †
British Army: 5,000
Indian Army: 7,000
Royal Marines and seamen: 7,069
3 ships of the line
12 other ships1
Eight Banners and Han Green Standard
Casualties and losses
69 killed in battle
284 executed or died in captivity in Formosa
18,000–20,000 killed and wounded2 (est.)
1 Comprising 5 troop ships, 3 brigs, 2 steamers, 1 survey vessel, and
1 hospital ship.
2 Casualties include Manchu bannermen and their families who committed
mass suicide at the
Battle of Chapu
Battle of Chapu and Battle of Chinkiang.
Opium War (第一次鴉片戰爭), also known as the Opium
War or the Anglo-Chinese War, was a series of military engagements
fought between the United Kingdom and the
Qing dynasty of
conflicting viewpoints on diplomatic relations, trade, and the
administration of justice in China.
In the 17th and 18th centuries demand for Chinese goods (particularly
silk, porcelain, and tea) in Europe created a trade imbalance between
China and Great Britain. European silver flowed into
China through the Canton System, which confined incoming foreign trade
to the southern port city of Canton. To counter this imbalance, the
East India Company
East India Company began to auction opium grown in India to
independent foreign traders in exchange for silver, and in doing so
strengthened its trading influence in Asia. This opium was transported
to the Chinese coast, where local middlemen made massive profits
selling the drug inside China. The influx of narcotics reversed the
Chinese trade surplus, drained the economy of silver, and increased
the numbers of opium addicts inside the country, outcomes that worried
In 1839 the Daoguang Emperor, rejecting proposals to legalise and tax
opium, appointed viceroy
Lin Zexu to solve the problem by completely
banning the opium trade (it had already been illegal to smoke and sell
China since 1729). Lin confiscated around 20,000 chests of
opium (approximately 1210 tons or 2.66 million pounds)
without offering compensation and ordered a blockade of foreign trade
in Canton. The British government, although not officially denying
China's right to control imports of the drug, objected to this
unexpected seizure and dispatched a military force to China. In the
ensuing conflict the
Royal Navy used its naval and gunnery power to
inflict a series of decisive defeats on the Chinese Empire, a
tactic later referred to as gunboat diplomacy.
In 1842 the Qing Dynasty was forced to sign the Treaty of
Nanking—the first of what the Chinese later called the unequal
treaties—which granted an indemnity and extraterritoriality to
Britain, opened five treaty ports to foreign merchants, and ceded Hong
Kong Island to the British Empire. The failure of the treaty to
satisfy British goals of improved trade and diplomatic relations led
to the Second
Opium War (1856–60), and the Qing defeat resulted in
social unrest within China. In China, the war is considered the
beginning of modern Chinese history.
1.1 Establishment of trade relations
1.2 Trade philosophy and policy
1.3.1 Napier Affair
2 Escalation of tensions
2.1 Crackdown on opium
2.2 Skirmish at Kowloon
2.3 First Battle of Chuenpi
2.4 Reaction in Britain
2.4.1 Parliamentary debates
2.4.2 Cabinet Decision and Palmerston letters
3.1 Opening moves
3.2 British offensive begins
3.3 Pearl river campaign
3.4 Central China
3.5 Yangtze river campaign
3.6 Treaty of Nanking
3.7 Technology and tactics
3.7.2 Qing Dynasty
6 Interactive map
7 See also
8 Fictional and narrative literature
10 References and further reading
11 External links
Establishment of trade relations
View of Canton with merchant ship of the Dutch East India Company, c.
Direct maritime trade between Europe and
China began in 1557 when the
Portuguese leased an outpost at Macau. Other European nations soon
followed the Portuguese lead, inserting themselves into the existing
Asian maritime trade network to compete with Arab, Chinese, Indian,
and Japanese merchants in intra-regional trade. After the Spanish
conquest of the
Philippines the exchange of goods between
Europe accelerated dramatically. From 1565 on, the
brought silver into the Asian trade network from mines in South
China was the primary destination for the precious
metals, as the imperial government mandated that Chinese goods could
only be exported in exchange for silver bullion.
British ships began to appear sporadically around the coasts of China
from 1635 on. Without establishing formal relations through the
Chinese tributary system, British merchants were only allowed to trade
at the ports of
Xiamen in addition to Guangzhou.
Official British trade was conducted through the auspices of the
British East India Company, which held a royal charter for trade with
the Far East. The
East India Company
East India Company gradually came to dominate
Sino-European trade from its position in India and due to the strength
of the Royal Navy.
View of the European factories in Canton
Trade benefited after the newly-risen
Qing dynasty relaxed maritime
trade restrictions in the 1680s. Taiwan came under Qing control in
1683 and rhetoric regarding the "tributary status" of Europeans was
Guangzhou (known as Canton to Europeans) became the port of
preference for incoming foreign trade. Ships did try to call at other
ports, but these locations could not match the benefits of Guangzhou's
geographic position at the mouth of the Pearl River, nor did they have
Guangzhou's long experience in balancing the demands of
those of Chinese and foreign merchants. From 1700 onward Canton
was the center of maritime trade with China, and this market process
became known as the "Canton System". From the systems' inception
in 1757, trading in
China was extremely lucrative for European and
Chinese merchants alike as goods such as tea, porcelain, and silk were
valued highly enough in Europe to justify the expenses of traveling to
Asia. The system was highly regulated by the Qing government. Foreign
traders were only permitted to do business through a body of Chinese
merchants known as the
Cohong and were forbidden to learn Chinese.
Foreigners could only live in one of the
Thirteen Factories and were
not allowed to enter or trade in any other part of China, a policy the
Qing called the Yī kŏu tōngshāng (口通商), or the "Single port
commerce system". Only low level government officials could be dealt
with, and the imperial court could not be lobbied for any reason
excepting official diplomatic missions. The Imperial laws that
upheld the system were collectively known as the Prevention Barbarian
Ordinances (防范外夷規條.) The
Cohong families were
particularly powerful in the Old
China Trade, as they were tasked with
appraising the value of foreign products, purchasing or rebuffing said
imports, and tasked with selling Chinese exports at an appropriate
Despite restrictions, silk and porcelain continued to drive trade
through their popularity in Europe, and an insatiable demand for
Chinese tea existed in Britain. These market forces resulted in a
chronic trade deficit for European governments, who were forced to
risk silver shortages in their domestic economies to supply the needs
of their merchants in Asia (who as private enterprises still turned a
profit by selling valuable Chinese goods to consumers in
Europe.) From the mid-17th century onward around
28 million kilograms of silver were received by China,
principally from European powers, in exchange for Chinese
Chinese opium smokers
Trade philosophy and policy
Economic and social innovation led to a change in the parameters of
the Sino-European trade. The formulation of
Classical economics by
Adam Smith and other economic theorists caused academic belief in
mercantilism to decline in Britain. Industrial Revolution
Britain began to use its naval power to spread a broadly liberal
economic model encompassing open markets and relatively barrier free
international trade, a policy in line with the teachings of smithian
economics. This stance on trade was intended to open foreign
markets to the resources of Britain's colonies, as well as provide the
British public with greater access to consumer goods. In contrast
to this economic model, Qing
China followed a Confucian-Modernist,
highly organized economic philosophy that called for strict government
intervention in industry for the sake of preserving societal
stability. While the Qing state was not explicitly anti-trade, a
lack of need for imports and a heavy tax on luxury goods limited
pressure on the government to open further ports to international
trade. Qing China's rigid merchant hierarchy also blocked efforts
to open ports to foreign ships and businesses. Chinese merchants
away from the coast wanted to avoid market fluctuations caused by
importing foreign goods that would compete with domestic production,
Cohong families of Canton profited greatly by keeping their
city the only entry point for foreign products. The Cohong
was made up of between (depending on the politics of Canton) 6 to 10
merchant families. Most of the houses had been established by
low-ranking mandarins, but several were Cantonese or Han in
Continued economic expansion in 17th and 18th century Europe increased
the European demand for precious metals, raising prices and reducing
the supply of bullion available for trade in China. The British Great
Recoinage of 1816 coupled with the adoption of the gold standard in
1821 resulted in the empire minting silver shillings, further reducing
the availability of silver for trade in Asia. The decline in
silver supplies sapped the ability of European merchants to purchase
Chinese goods, which remained in high demand. Merchants were no longer
able to sustain the
China trade purely through profits made by selling
Chinese goods in the West and were forced to take bullion out of
circulation in Europe to buy goods in China. This angered
governments and fostered a great deal of animosity towards the
Chinese. The Chinese economy was unaffected by fluctuations in
silver prices, as
China was able to import silver from Japan to
stabilize its money supply. European goods remained in low demand
in China, ensuring a trade surplus with European nations. Despite
these tensions, trade between
China and Europe grew by an estimated 4%
annually in the years leading up to the start of the opium trade.
Thirteen Factories district of Canton grew, and was labeled the
"foreign quarter." A small population of merchants began to stay in
Canton year round, and a local chamber of commerce was formed. As its
merchants gained increasing influence in China, Great Britain
bolstered its military strength in Southern China. Britain began
sending warships to deter pirates on the Pearl River, and in 1808
established a permanent garrison of British troops in
Macau to ward
off French attacks.
At the turn of the 19th-century countries such as Great Britain, the
Netherlands, Denmark, Russia, and the United States began to seek
additional trading rights in China. Foremost among the concerns of
the western nations was the end of the
Canton System and the opening
of China's vast consumer markets to trade. Britain in particular was
keen on reducing its trade deficit, as the empire's implementation of
the gold standard forced it to purchase silver from continental Europe
and Mexico to satisfy domestic demand and British traders in
China. The perpetual expenditure of British bullion on Chinese
products limited the amount of currency in British circulation,
weakening the domestic economy, preventing economic growth and causing
deflation. Attempts by a British embassy (led by Macartney in 1793), a
Dutch mission (under Jacob van Braam in 1794), Russia's Golovkin in
1805 and the British again (Amherst in 1816) to negotiate increased
access to the Chinese market were all vetoed by successive Qing
Emperors. Upon his meeting the
Jiaqing Emperor in 1816, Amherst
refused to perform the traditional kowtow, an act that the Qing saw as
a severe breach of etiquette. Amherst and his party were expelled from
China, a diplomatic rebuke that angered the British government.
See also: History of opium in China
Opium as a medicinal ingredient was documented in Chinese texts as
early as the Tang dynasty, but the recreational usage of the narcotic
was limited. The Ming Dynasty banned tobacco as a decadent good in
1640, and opium was seen as a similarly minor issue. The first
restrictions on opium were passed by the Qing in 1729 when
substance made from blended opium and tobacco) was banned. At the
Madak production used up most of the opium being imported into
China, as pure opium was difficult to preserve. Consumption of
Javanese opium rose in the 18th century, and after the Napoleonic Wars
resulted in the British occupying Java, British merchants became the
primary traders in opium. The British realized they could reduce
their trade deficit with Chinese manufactories by counter-trading in
narcotic opium, and as such efforts were made to produce more opium in
the Indian colonies. Limited British sales of opium from India began
in 1781, with exports to
China increasing as the East India Company
solidified its control over India.
The British opium was produced in the traditionally cotton-growing
regions of India in
Bengal and the Ganges River Plain. The East India
Company itself neither produced nor shipped opium, but did set the
horticultural laws allowing for opium cultivation and actively
facilitated the transport of the drug. From Calcutta, the
Opium Board" concerned itself with quality control by
managing the way opium was packaged and shipped. The board issued
licencees to the independent princely states of Malwa, where
significant quantities of opium was grown. Both company and Malwan
farmlands (which were traditionally dependent on cotton growing) had
been hard hit by the introduction of factory-produced cotton cloth,
which used cotton grown in
Egypt or the American South.
considered a lucrative replacement, and was soon being auctioned in
large amounts in Calcutta. Private merchants who possessed a company
charter (to comply with the British royal charter for Asiatic trade)
bid on and acquired goods at the
Calcutta auction before sailing to
Southern China. British ships brought their cargoes to islands off the
coast, especially Lintin Island, where Chinese traders with fast and
well-armed small boats took the goods inland for distribution, paying
for the opium with silver. The Qing administration initially tolerated
opium importation because it created an indirect tax on Chinese
subjects, for increasing the silver supply available to foreign
merchants through the sale of opium encouraged Europeans to spend more
money on Chinese goods. This policy allowed the British to double tea
China to England, thereby profiting the Qing monopoly on
tea exports held by the imperial treasury and its agents in
Canton. However, opium usage continued to grow in China, adversely
affecting societal stability. These factors led to the Qing government
issuing an edict against the drug in 1780, followed by an outright ban
in 1796, and an order from the governor of Canton to stop the trade in
1799. To circumnavigate the increasingly stringent regulations in
Canton, foreign merchants bought older ships and converted them into
floating warehouses. These ships were anchored off of the Chinese
coast at the mouth of the Pearl River in case the Chinese authorities
moved against the opium trade, as the ships of the Chinese navy had
difficulty operating in open water. Inbound opium ships would unload a
portion of their cargo onto these floating warehouses, where the
narcotic was eventually purchased by Chinese opium dealers. By
implementing this system of smuggling, foreign merchants could avoid
inspection by Chinese officials and prevent retaliation against the
trade in legal goods, in which many smugglers also participated.
However, the majority of the opium being traded in Canton prior to
1822 was transported directly upriver to Canton.
Opium ships at Lintin, China, 1824
East India Company
East India Company warehouse stocked with opium.
Graph showing the increase in Chinese opium imports by year.
In the early 19th century American merchants joined the trade and they
began to introduce opium from Turkey into the Chinese market — this
was of lesser quality but cheaper, and the resulting competition among
British and American merchants drove down the price of opium, leading
to an increase in the availability of the drug for Chinese
consumers. The demand for opium rose rapidly and was so profitable
China that Chinese opium dealers (who, unlike European merchants,
could legally travel to and sell goods in the Chinese interior) began
to seek out more suppliers of the drug. The resulting shortage in
supply drew more European merchants into the increasingly lucrative
opium trade to meet the Chinese demand. In the words of one trading
house agent, "[Opium] it is like gold. I can sell it anytime."
From 1804 to 1820, a period when the Qing treasury needed to finance
the suppression of rebellions, the flow of money gradually reversed,
and Chinese merchants were soon exporting silver to pay for opium
rather than Europeans paying for Chinese goods with the precious
metal. European and American ships were able to arrive in Canton
with their holds filled with opium, sell their cargo, use the proceeds
to buy Chinese goods, and turn a profit in the form of silver
bullion. This silver would then be used to acquire further goods
China or shipped back to Europe. While opium remained the most
profitable good to trade with China, foreign merchants began to export
other cargoes, such as machine-spun cotton cloth, rattan, ginseng,
fur, clocks, and steel tools. However, these goods never reached the
same level of importance as narcotics, nor were they as
The Qing imperial court debated whether or how to end the opium trade,
but their efforts to curtail opium abuse were complicated by local
officials (including the Governor-general of Canton) and the Cohong,
who profited greatly from the bribes and taxes involved in the
narcotics trade. Efforts by Qing officials to curb opium imports
through regulations on consumption resulted in an increase in drug
smuggling by European and Chinese traders. In 1810 the Daoguang
Emperor issued an edict concerning the matter, declaring,
Opium has a harm.
Opium is a poison, undermining our good customs and
morality. Its use is prohibited by law. Now the commoner, Yang, dares
to bring it into the Forbidden City. Indeed, he flouts the law!
However, recently the purchasers, eaters, and consumers of opium have
become numerous. Deceitful merchants buy and sell it to gain profit.
The customs house at the Ch'ung-wen Gate was originally set up to
supervise the collection of imports (it had no responsibility with
regard to opium smuggling). If we confine our search for opium to the
seaports, we fear the search will not be sufficiently thorough. We
should also order the general commandant of the police and police-
censors at the five gates to prohibit opium and to search for it at
all gates. If they capture any violators, they should immediately
punish them and should destroy the opium at once. As to Kwangtung
[Guangdong] and Fukien [Fujian], the provinces from which opium comes,
we order their viceroys, governors, and superintendents of the
maritime customs to conduct a thorough search for opium, and cut off
its supply. They should in no ways consider this order a dead letter
and allow opium to be smuggled out!
A significant development came in 1834 when reformers in England who
advocated for free trade succeeded in ending the monopoly of the
East India Company
East India Company under the Charter Act of the previous year.
This shift in trade policy opened the British
China trade to private
entrepreneurs, many of whom joined the highly profitable opium
On the eve of the Qing government’s crackdown on opium, a Chinese
official described the changes in society caused by the drug;
At the beginning, opium smoking was confined to the fops of wealthy
families who took up the habit as a form of conspicuous consumption,
even they knew that they should not indulge in it to the greatest
extreme. Later, people of all social strata—from government
officials and members of the gentry to craftsmen, merchants,
entertainers, and servants, and even women, Buddhist monks and nuns,
and Taoist priests—took up the habit and openly bought and equipped
themselves with smoking instruments. Even in the center of our
dynasty—the nation’s capital and its surrounding areas—some of
the inhabitants have also been contaminated by this dreadful
In late 1834, to accommodate the revocation of the East India
Company's monopoly, the British sent Lord
William John Napier
William John Napier to Macau
John Francis Davis
John Francis Davis and Sir George Best Robinson, 2nd
Baronet as British superintendents of trade in China. Napier was
instructed to obey Chinese regulations, communicate directly with
Chinese authorities, superintend trade pertaining to the contraband
trade of opium, and to survey China's coastline. Upon his arrival in
China, Napier tried to circumvent the restrictive system that forbade
direct contact with Chinese officials by sending a letter directly to
the Viceroy of Canton. The Viceroy refused to accept it, and on 2
September of that year an edict was issued that temporarily closed
British trade. In response, Napier ordered two
Royal Navy vessels to
bombard Chinese forts on the Pearl River in a show of naval force.
This command was followed through, but war was avoided due to Napier
falling ill with typhus and ordering a retreat. The brief gunnery duel
drew condemnation by the Chinese government, as well as criticism from
the British government and foreign merchants. Other nationalities,
such as the Americans, prospered through their continued peaceful
trade with China, but the British were told to leave Canton for either
Whampoa or Macau. Lord Napier was forced to return to Macau, where
he died of typhus a few days later. After Lord Napier's death,
Charles Elliot received the King's Commission as
Superintendent of Trade in 1836 to continue Napier's work of
conciliating the Chinese.
Escalation of tensions
Crackdown on opium
Main article: Destruction of opium at Humen
Commissioner Lin Zexu, dubbed "Lin of Clear Skies" for his moral
Lin Zexu's "memorial" (摺奏) written directly to Queen Victoria
By 1838, the British were selling roughly 1,400 tons of opium per
year to China. Legalization of the opium trade was the subject of
ongoing debate within the Chinese administration, but it was
repeatedly rejected, and in 1838 the government began to actively
sentence Chinese drug traffickers to death. It has been estimated
that by the start of the Qing crackdown on opium, 27% of the male
Chinese population was addicted to opium.
In 1839 the
Daoguang Emperor appointed scholar-official
Lin Zexu to
the post of
Special Imperial Commissioner with the task of eradicating
the opium trade. Lin wrote an open letter to Queen Victoria
questioning the moral reasoning of the British government. Citing what
he understood to be a strict prohibition of the trade within Great
Britain, Lin questioned how Britain could declare itself moral while
its merchants profited from the legal sale in
China of a drug that was
banned in Britain. He wrote: "Your Majesty has not before been thus
officially notified, and you may plead ignorance of the severity of
our laws, but I now give my assurance that we mean to cut this harmful
drug forever." The letter never reached the Queen, with one source
suggesting that it was lost in transit. Lin pledged that nothing
would divert him from his mission, "If the traffic in opium were not
stopped a few decades from now we shall not only be without soldiers
to resist the enemy, but also in want of silver to provide an
army." Lin banned the sale of opium and demanded that all supplies
of the drug be surrendered to the Chinese authorities. He also closed
the Pearl River Channel, trapping British traders in Canton. As
well as seizing opium stockpiles in warehouses and the thirteen
factories, Chinese troops boarded British ships in the Pearl River and
China Sea before destroying the opium on board.
The British Superintendent of Trade in China, Charles Elliot,
protested the decision to forcibly seize the opium stockpiles. He
ordered all ships carrying opium to flee and prepare for battle. Lin
responded by quarantining the foreign dealers in their warehouses, and
kept them from communicating with their ships in port. To defuse
the situation, Elliot convinced the British traders to cooperate with
Chinese authorities and hand over their opium stockpiles with the
promise of eventual compensation for their losses by the British
government. While this amounted to a tacit acknowledgment that the
British government did not disapprove of the trade, it also placed a
huge liability on the exchequer. This promise, and the inability of
the British government to pay it without causing a political storm,
was an important casus belli for the subsequent British offensive.
During April and May 1839, British and American dealers surrendered
20,283 chests and 200 sacks of opium. The stockpile was publicly
destroyed on the beach outside of Guangzhou.
Contemporary Chinese depiction of the destruction of opium under
After the opium was surrendered, trade was restarted on the strict
condition that no more opium be shipped into China. Looking for a way
to effectively police foreign trade and purge corruption, Lin and his
advisers decided to reform the existing bond system. Under this
system, an incoming foreign captain and the
Cohong merchant whom had
purchased the goods off of his ship swore that the vessel carried no
illegal goods. Upon examining the records of the port, Lin was
infuriated to find that in the 20 years since opium had been declared
illegal, not a single infraction had been reported. As a
consequence, Lin demanded that all foreign merchants and Qing
officials sign a new bond promising not to deal in opium under penalty
of death. The British government opposed their signing of the
bond, feeling that it violated the principle of free trade, but some
merchants who did not trade in opium (such as Olyphant & Co.) were
willing to sign against Elliot's orders. Trade in regular goods
continued unabated, and the scarcity of opium caused by the seizure of
the foreign warehouses caused the black market to flourish. Some
newly arrived merchant ships were able to learn of the ban on opium
before they entered the Pearl River estuary, and so they unloaded
their cargoes at Lintin Island. The opportunity caused by the sharp
rise in the price of opium was seized upon by some of the Cohong
trading houses and smugglers, who were able to evade commissioner
Lin's efforts and smuggled more opium into China. Superintendent
Elliot was aware of the smugglers' activities on Lintin and was under
orders to stop them, but feared that any action by the Royal Navy
could spark a war and withheld his ships.
Skirmish at Kowloon
See also: Battle of Kowloon
In early July 1839 a group of British merchant sailors in Kowloon
became intoxicated after consuming rice liqueur. Two of the sailors
became agitated with and beat to death Lin Weixi, a villager from
nearby Tsim Sha Tsui. Superintendent Elliot ordered the arrest
of the two men, and paid compensation to Lin's family and village.
However, he refused a request to turn the sailors over to Chinese
authorities. Commissioner Lin saw this as an obstruction of
justice, and ordered the sailors to be handed over. Elliot instead
held a trial for the accused men aboard a warship at sea, with himself
serving as the judge and merchant captains serving as jurors. He
invited the Qing authorities to observe and comment on the
proceedings, but the offer was declined. The naval court convicted
5 sailors of assault and rioting, and sentenced them to fines along
with hard labor in Britain (this verdict would later be overturned in
1841 painting of the Chinese fort at Kowloon.
Angered by the violation of China's sovereignty, Lin recalled Chinese
Macau and issued an edict preventing the sale of food to
the British. War
Junks were deployed to the mouth of the Pearl
River, while signs were placed and rumors spread by the Qing that they
had poisoned the freshwater springs traditional used to restock
foreign merchant ships. On 23 August a ship belonging to a prominent
opium merchant was attacked by lascar pirates while traveling
downriver from Canton to Macau. Rumors spread among the British that
it had been Chinese soldiers who had attacked the ship, and Elliot
ordered all British ships to leave the coast of
China by 24
August. That same day
Macau barred British ships from its harbor
at the request of Lin. The commissioner traveled in person to the
city, where he was welcomed by some of the inhabitants as a hero who
had restored law and order. The flight from
Macau ensured that by
the end of August over 60 British ships and over 2000 people were
idling off of the Chinese coast, fast running out of provisions. On 30
August HMS Volage arrived to defend the fleet from a potential Chinese
attack, and Elliot warned Qing authorities in
Kowloon that the embargo
on food and water must be ended soon.
Early on 4 September Elliot dispatched an armed schooner and a cutter
Kowloon to buy provisions from Chinese peasants. The two ships
approached three Chinese war junks in the harbor and requested
permission to land men in order to procure supplies. The British were
allowed through and basic necessities were provided to the British by
Chinese sailors, but the Chinese commander inside
Kowloon fort refused
to allow the locals to trade with the British and confined the
townspeople inside the settlement. The situation grew more intense as
the day went on, and in the afternoon Elliot issued an ultimatum that,
if the Chinese refused to allow the British to purchase supplies, they
would be fired upon. A 3:00 pm deadline set by Elliot passed and the
British ships opened fire on the Chinese vessels. The junks returned
fire, and Chinese gunners on land began to fire at the British ships.
Nightfall ended the battle, and the Chinese junks withdrew, ending
what would be known as the Battle of Kowloon. Many British officers
wanted to launch a land attack on
Kowloon fort the next day, but
Elliot decided against it, stating that such an action would cause
"great injury and irritation" to the town's inhabitants. After the
skirmish, Elliot circulated a paper in Kowloon, reading;
The men of the English nation desire nothing but peace; but they
cannot submit to be poisoned and starved. The Imperial cruizers they
have no wish to molest or impede; but they must not prevent the people
from selling. To deprive men of food is the act only of the unfriendly
Having driven off the Chinese ships, the British fleet began to
purchase provisions from the local villagers, often with the aid of
bribed Chinese officials in Kowloon. Lai Enjue, the local
commander at Kowloon, declared that a victory had been won against the
British. He claimed that a two masted British warship had been
sunk, and that 40-50 British had been killed. He also reported
that the British had been unable to acquire supplies, and his reports
severely understated the strength of the Royal Navy.
First Battle of Chuenpi
In late October 1839 the merchant ship Thomas Coutts arrived in China
and sailed to Canton. Thomas Coutts's Quaker owners refused on
religious grounds to deal in opium, a fact which the Chinese
authorities were aware of. The ship's captain, Warner, believed Elliot
had exceeded his legal authority by banning the signing of the "no
opium trade" bond, and negotiated with the governor of Canton.
Warner hoped that all British ships not carrying opium could negotiate
to legally unload their goods at Chuenpi, an island near Humen.
To prevent other British ships from following Thomas Coutts's
precedent, Elliot ordered a blockade of British shipping in the Pearl
River. Fighting began on 3 November 1839, when a second British ship,
Royal Saxon, attempted to sail to Canton. The British
Royal Navy ships
HMS Volage and HMS Hyacinth fired warning shots at Royal Saxon. In
response to this commotion, a fleet of Chinese war junks under the
Guan Tianpei sailed out to protect Royal Saxon. The
Battle of Chuenpi
Battle of Chuenpi resulted in the destruction of 4
Chinese war junks and the withdrawal of both fleets. The Qing
navy's official report on the
Battle of Chuenpi
Battle of Chuenpi claimed that the navy
had protected the British merchant vessel and reported a great victory
for the day. In reality, the Chinese had been out-classed by the
British vessels and several Chinese ships were disabled. Elliot
reported that his squadron was protecting the 29 British ships in
Chuenpi, and began to prepare for the Qing reprisal. Fearing that the
Chinese would reject any contacts with the British and eventually
attack with fire rafts, he ordered all ships to leave Chuenpi and head
for Tung Lo Wan, 20 miles (30 km) from Macau, hoping that
offshore anchorages would be out of range of Lin. Elliot asked Adrião
Acácio da Silveira Pinto, the Portuguese governor of Macau, to let
British ships load and unload their goods there in exchange for paying
rents and any duties. The governor refused for fear that the Chinese
would discontinue supplying food and other necessities to Macau, and
on 14 January 1840 the
Daoguang Emperor asked all foreigners to halt
material assistance to the British. Southern
China began to
prepare for a minor war to push the remaining British out of the
Reaction in Britain
Following the Chinese crackdown on the opium trade, discussion arose
as to how Britain would respond, as the public in the United States
and Britain had previously expressed outrage that Britain was
supporting the opium trade. Many British citizens sympathized with
the Chinese and wanted to halt the sale of opium, while others want to
contain or regulate the international narcotics trade. However, a
great deal of anger was expressed over the treatment of British
diplomats and towards the protectionist trading policies of Qing
China. The Whig controlled government in particular advocated for war
with China, and the pro-Whig press printed stories about Chinese
"despotism and cruelty."
Since August 1839, reports had been published in London newspapers
about troubles at Canton and the impending war with China. The Queen's
Annual Address to the House of Lords on 16 January 1840 expressed the
concern that "Events have happened in
China which have occasioned an
interruption of the commercial intercourse of my subjects with that
country. I have given, and shall continue to give, the most serious
attention to a mater so deeply affecting the interests of my subjects
and the dignity of my Crown.". The Whig Melbourne Government was
then in a weak political situation. On a motion of non-confidence
moved in the House of Commons by the Tory Opposition John Buller, the
Government survived the vote on 31 January 1840 by a majority of 21
(308 votes against vs 287 votes for). The Tories saw the China
Question as a good opportunity to beat the Government, and James
Graham moved a motion on 7 April 1840 in the House of Commons,
censuring the Government not on the impending war with
China nor the
opium trade, but on the Government's "want of foresight and
precaution" and "their neglect to furnish the superintendent at Canton
with powers and instructions" to deal with the opium trade. This
was a deliberate move of the Tories to avoid the sensitive issues of
war and opium trade and to obtain maximum support for the motion
within the party.
Calls for military action were met with mixed responses when the
matter went before Parliament. Foreign Secretary Palmerston, a
politician known for his aggressive foreign policy and advocacy for
free trade, led the pro war camp. Palmerston strongly believed that
the destroyed opium should be considered property, not contraband, and
as such reparations had to be made for its destruction. He justified
military action by saying that no one could "say that he honestly
believed the motive of the Chinese Government to have been the
promotion of moral habits" and that the war was being fought to stem
China's balance of payments deficit. After consulting with William
Jardine, the foreign secretary drafted a letter to Prime Minister
William Melbourne calling for a military response. Other merchants
called for an opening of free trade with China, and it was commonly
cited that the Chinese consumers were the driving factor of the opium
trade. The periodic expulsion of British merchants from Canton and the
refusal of the Qing government to treat Britain as a diplomatic equal
were seen as a slight to national pride. Few Tory or liberal
politicians supported the war. Sir James Graham, Lord Phillip
Stanhope, and future Prime Minister
William Ewart Gladstone
William Ewart Gladstone headed the
anti-war faction in Britain, and denounced the ethics of the opium
trade. After three days of debate, the vote was taken on
Graham's motion on 9 April 1840, which was defeated by a majority of
only 9 votes (262 votes for vs 271 votes against ). The Tories in the
House of Commons thus failed to deter the Government from proceeding
with the war and stop the British warships already on their way to
China. A similar motion moved by Earl Stanhope in the House of
Lords on 12 May 1840 also failed to pass. The House of Commons finally
agreed on 27 July 1840 to a resolution of granting £173,442 for the
expenses of the expedition to China, long after the war with
Cabinet Decision and Palmerston letters
Under strong pressure and lobbying from various trade and manufacturer
associations, the Whig cabinet under Prime Minister Melbourne decided
on 1 October 1839 to send an expedition to China. War preparations
In early November 1839, the Foreign Secretary Palmerston instructed
Auckland, Governor General of India, to prepare military forces for
deployment in China. On 20 February 1840 Palmerston (who remained
unaware of the First
Battle of Chuenpi
Battle of Chuenpi in November 1839) drafted two
letters detailing the British response to the situation in China. One
letter was addressed to the Elliots, the other to the Daoguang Emperor
and the Qing government. The letter to the Emperor informed
Great Britain had sent a military expeditionary force to the Chinese
coast. In the letter, Palmerston stated that,
These measures of hostility on the part of Great Britain against China
are not only justified, but even rendered absolutely necessary, by the
outrages which have been committed by the Chinese Authorities against
British officers and Subjects, and these hostilities will not cease,
until a satisfactory arrangement shall have been made by the Chinese
In his letter to the Elliots, Palmerston instructed the commanders to
set up a blockade of the Pearl River and forward to a Chinese official
the letter from Palmerston addressing the Chinese Emperor. They were
to then capture the Chusan Islands, blockade the mouth of the Yangtze
River, start negotiations with Qing officials, and finally sail the
fleet into the Bohai Sea, where they would send another copy of the
aforementioned letter to Beijing. Palmerston also issued a list of
objectives that the British government wanted accomplished, with said
Demand to be treated with the respect due to a royal envoy by the Qing
Secure the right of the British superintendent to administer justice
to British subjects in China.
Seek recompense for destroyed British property.
Gain most favored trading status with the Chinese government.
Request the right for foreigners to safely inhabit and own private
property in China.
Ensure that, if contraband is seized in accordance with Chinese law,
no harm comes to the person(s) of British subjects carrying illicit
goods in China.
End the system by which British merchants are restricted to trading
solely in Canton.
Ask that the cities of Canton, Amoy, Shanghai, Ningpo, and the
province of northern
Formosa be freely opened to trade from all
Secure island(s) along the Chinese coast that can be easily defended
and provisioned, or exchange captured islands for favorable trading
Lord Palmerston left it to Superintendent Elliot's discretion as to
how these objectives would be fulfilled, but noted that while
negotiation would be a preferable outcome, he did not trust that
diplomacy would succeed, writing;
To sum up in a few words the result of this Instruction, you will see,
from what I have stated, that the British Government demands from that
China satisfaction for the past and security for the future; and
does not choose to trust to negotiation for obtaining either of these
things; but has sent out a Naval and Military Force with orders to
begin at once to take the Measures necessary for attaining the object
Engagement between British and Chinese ships in the First Battle of
The Chinese naval forces in Canton were under the command of Admiral
Guan Tianpei, who had fought the British at Chuenpi. The Qing southern
army and garrisons were under the command of General Yang Fang.
Overall command was invested in the
Daoguang Emperor and his
court. The Chinese government initially believed that, as in the
1834 Napier Affair, the British had been successfully expelled.
Few preparations were made for a British reprisal, and the events
leading to the eventual outbreak of the
Sino-Sikh War in 1841 were
seen as a greater cause for concern.
Left without a major base of operations in China, the British withdrew
their merchant shipping from the region while maintaining the Royal
China squadron in the islands around the mouth of the Pearl
River. From London, Palmerston continued to dictate operations in
China, ordering the
East India Company
East India Company to divert troops from India in
preparation for a limited war against the Chinese. It was decided that
the war would not be fought as a full-scale conflict, but rather as a
punitive expedition. Superintendent Elliot remained in charge
of Britain's interests in China, while Commodore
James Bremer led the
Royal Marines and the
China Squadron. Major General Hugh Gough was
selected to command the British land forces, and was promoted to
overall commander of British forces in China. The cost of the war
would be paid by the British Government. Per Lord
Palmerston's letter, plans were drawn up by the British to launch a
series of attacks on Chinese ports and rivers.
British plans to form an expeditionary were started immediately after
the January 1840 vote. Several infantry regiments were raised in the
British isles, and the completion of ships already under construction
was expedited. To conduct the upcoming war, Britain also began to draw
on forces from its overseas empire. British India had been preparing
for a war since word had arrived that the opium had been destroyed,
and several regiments of Bengali volunteers had been recruited to
supplement the regular British Indian Army and East India Company
forces. In terms of naval forces, the ships earmarked for the
expedition were either posted in remote colonies or under repair, and
Oriental Crisis of 1840
Oriental Crisis of 1840 (and the resulting risk of war between
Britain, France, and the
Ottoman Empire over Syria) drew the attention
of the Royal Navy's european fleets away from China. Orders were
dispatched to British South Africa and Australia to send ships to
Singapore, the assigned rendezvous point for the expedition. A number
of steamers were purchased by the
Royal Navy and attached to the
expedition as transports. The unseasonable summer weather of India and
Strait of Malacca
Strait of Malacca slowed the British deployment, and a number of
accidents decreased the combat readiness of the expedition. Most
notably, both of the 74-gun ships of the line that the Royal Navy
intended to use against Chinese fortifications were temporarily put
out of action by hull damage. Despite these delays, by mid-June
1840 British forces had begun to assemble in Singapore. While they
waited for more ships to arrive, the
Royal Marines practiced
amphibious invasions on the beach, first by landing ashore in boats,
then forming lines and advancing on mock fortifications.
British offensive begins
Capture of Chusan, July 1840
In late June 1840 the first part of the expeditionary force arrived in
China aboard 15 barracks ships, four steam-powered gunboats and 25
smaller boats. The flotilla was under the command of Commodore
Bremer. The British issued an ultimatum demanding the Qing Government
pay compensation for losses suffered from interrupted trade and the
destruction of opium, but were rebuffed by the Qing authorities in
In his letters, Palmerston had instructed the joint
plenipotentiaries Elliot and his cousin Admiral George
Elliot to acquire the cession of at least one island for trade on
the Chinese coast. With the British expeditionary force now in
place, a combined naval and ground assault was launched on the Chusan
Zhoushan Island, the largest and best defended of the
islands was the primary target for the attack, as was its vital port
of Dinghai. When the British fleet arrived off of Zhoushan, Elliot
demanded the city surrender. The commander of the Chinese garrison
refused the command, stating that he could not surrender and
questioning what reason the British had for harassing Dinghai, as they
had been driven out of Canton. Fighting began, a fleet of 12
small junks were destroyed by the Royal navy, and British marines
captured the hills to the south of the Dinghai. The British captured
the city itself after an intense naval bombardment on 5 July forced
the surviving Chinese defenders to withdraw. The British occupied
Dinghai harbor and prepared to use it as a staging point for
operations in China. In the fall of 1840 disease broke out in the
Dinghai garrison, forcing the British to evacuate soldiers to Manila
and Calcutta. By the beginning of 1841 only 1900 of the 3300 men whom
had original occupied Dinghai were left, with many of those remaining
having been rendered incapable of fighting. An estimated 500 British
soldiers died from disease, with the Cameron and Bengali volunteers
suffering the most deaths as opposed to the Royal Marines, who were
Having captured Dinghai, the British expedition divided its forces,
sending one fleet south to the Pearl River while sending a second
fleet north to the Yellow Sea. The northern fleet sailed to Peiho,
where Elliot personally presented Palmerston's letter to the Emperor
to Qing authorities from the capital. Qishan (ᡴᡳᡧᠠᠨ), a
high-ranking Manchu official, was selected by the Imperial Court to
replace Lin as the
Viceroy of Liangguang
Viceroy of Liangguang after the latter was
discharged for his failure to resolve the opium situation.
Negotiations began between the two sides, with Qishan serving as the
primary negotiator for the Qing and Elliot serving as the
representative for the British Crown. After a week of negotiations,
Qishan and Elliot agreed to relocate to the Pearl River for further
negotiations. In return for the courtesy of the British to withdraw
from the Yellow Sea, Qishan promised to requisition imperial funds as
restitution for British merchants whom had suffered damages. The war,
however, was not concluded and both sides continued to engage
each-other. In the late spring of 1841 reinforcements arrived from
India in preparation for an offensive against Canton. A flotilla of
transports brought 600 men of the professionally-trained 37th Madras
Native Infantry to Dinghai, where their arrival boosted British
morale. Accompanying the fleet as far as
Macau was the newly
constructed iron steamer HMS Nemesis, a weapon to which the Chinese
navy had no effective counter. On 19 August three British
warships and 380 marines drove the Chinese from the land bridge (known
as "The Barrier") separating
Macau from the Chinese mainland. The
defeat of the Qing soldiers coupled with the arrival of the Nemesis in
Macau's harbor resulted in a wave of pro-British support in the city,
and several Qing officials were driven out or killed. Portugal
remained neutral in the conflict, but after the battle was willing to
allow British ships to dock in Macau, a decision that granted the
British a functioning port in Southern China. With the strategic
harbors of Dinghai and
Macau secured, the British began to focus on
the war on the Pearl River. Five months after the British victory at
Chusan, the northern elements of the expedition sailed south to Humen,
known to the British as The Bogue. Bremer judged that gaining control
of the Pearl River and Canton would put the British in a strong
negotiating position with the Qing authorities, as well as allow for
the renewal of trade when the war ended.
Pearl river campaign
While the British campaigned in the north, Qing Admiral Guan Taipei
greatly reinforced the Qing positions in Humen, suspecting (sources
state that Guan had been preparing for an eventual attack on the
position since Napier's attack in 1835) that the British would
attempt to force their way up the Pearl River to Canton. The Humen
forts blocked transit of the river, and were garrisoned with 3000 men
and 306 cannon. By the time the British fleet was ready for action,
10000 Qing soldiers were in position to defend Canton and the
surrounding area. The British fleet arrived in early January, and
began to bombard the Qing defenses at Chuenpi after a group of Chinese
fire-rafts were sent drifting towards the Royal navy ships. On 7
January 1841 the British won a decisive victory in the Second Battle
of Chuenpi, destroying 11
Junks of the Chinese southern fleet and
Humen forts. The victory allowed the British to set up a
blockade of The Bogue, a blow that forced the Qing navy to retreat
Knowing the strategic value of
Pearl River Delta
Pearl River Delta to
China and aware
that British naval superiority made a reconquest of the region
unlikely, Qishan attempted to prevent the war for widening further by
negotiating a peace treaty with Britain. On 21 January Qishan and
Elliot drafted the Convention of Chuenpi, a document which both
parties hoped would end the war. The convention would
establish equal diplomatic rights between Britain and China, exchange
Hong Kong Island
Hong Kong Island for Chusan, faucilitate the release of shipwrecked
and kidnapped British citizens held by the Chinese, and reopen trade
in Canton by 1 February 1841.
China would also pay six millions
of silver dollars as recompense for the opium destroyed at
1838. However, the legal status of the opium trade was not resolved
and instead left open to be discussed at a future date. Despite the
success of the negotiations between Qishan and Elliot, both of their
respective governments refused to sign the convention. The Daoguang
Emperor was infuriated that Qing territory would be given up in a
treaty that had been signed without his permission, and ordered Qishan
arrested (who was later sentenced to death, then commuted to military
service.) Lord Palmerston recalled Elliot from his post and refused to
sign the convention, wanting more concessions to be forced from the
Chinese per his original instructions.
British ships approaching Canton in May 1841
The brief interlude in the fighting ended in the beginning of February
after the Chinese refused to reopen Canton to British trade. On 19
February a longboat from HMS Nemesis came under fire from a fort on
North Wangtong Island, prompting a British response. The British
commanders ordered another blockade of the Pearl River and resumed
combat operations against the Chinese. The British captured the
remaining Bogue forts on 26 February during the Battle of the Bogue
Battle of First Bar
Battle of First Bar on the following day, allowing the fleet
to move further upriver towards Canton. Admiral Taipei was
killed in action during the fighting on 26 February. On 2 March the
British destroyed a Qing fort near
Pazhou and captured Whamoa, an
action that directly threatened Canton's east flank. The
attack on Whamoa was directed in person by Major General Gough, who
had recently arrived from
Madras aboard HMS Cruizer. Superintendent
Elliot (who was unaware that he had been dismissed) and the
Governor-General of Canton declared a 3 day truce on 3 March. Between
the 3rd and the 6th the British forces that had evacuated Chusan per
Convention of Chuenpi
Convention of Chuenpi arrived in the Pearl River. The Chinese
military was likewise reinforced, and by 16 March General Yang Fang
commanded 30,000 men in the area surrounding Canton.
While the main British fleet prepared to sail up the Pearl River to
Canton, a group of three warships departed for the
Xi River estuary,
intending to navigate the waterway between
Macau and Canton. The
fleet, led by Captain James Scott and Superintendent Elliot, was
composed of the frigate HMS Samarang and the steamships HMS Nemesis
and HMS Atalanta. Though the waterway was in places only 6 feet
deep, the shallow drafts of the steamships allowed the British to
approach Canton from a direction the Qing believed to be
impossible. In a series of engagements along the river from March
13-15th, the British captured or destroyed Chinese ships, guns, and
military equipment. 9 junks, 6 fortresses, and 105 guns were destroyed
or captured in what was known as the Broadway expedition.
British map of the Pearl River.
With the Pearl River cleared of Chinese defenses, the British debated
advancing on Canton. Though the truce had ended on 6 March,
Superintendent Elliot believed that the British should negotiate with
the Qing authorities from their current position of strength rather
than risk a battle in Canton. The Qing army made no aggressive moves
against the British and instead began to fortify the city. Chinese
military engineers began to establish a number of mud earthworks on
the riverbank, sank junks to create riverblocks, and started
constructing fire rafts and gunboats. Chinese merchants were ordered
to remove all of the silk and tea from Canton to impede trade, and the
local populace was barred from selling food to the British ships on
the river. On 16 March a British ship approaching a Chinese fort
under a flag of truce was fired upon, leading to the British setting
the fort on fire with rockets. These actions convinced Elliot that the
Chinese were preparing to fight, and following the return of the ships
Broadway expedition to the fleet, the British attacked Canton
on 18 March, taking the
Thirteen Factories with very few casualties
and raising the
Union Jack above the British factory. The city
was partially occupied by the British and trade was reopened after
negotiation with the
Cohong merchants. After several days of further
military successes, British forces commanded the high ground around
Canton. Another truce was declared on 20 March. Against the advice of
some of his captains, Elliot withdrew most of the
Royal Navy warships
downriver to the Bocca Tigris.
Sketch of British soldiers occupying the high ground above Canton in
In mid April Yishan (Qishan's replacement and the Daoguang Emperor's
cousin) arrived in Canton. He declared that trade should continue to
remain open, sent emissaries to Elliot, and began to gather military
assets outside Canton. The Qing army camped outside of the city soon
numbered 50,000, and the money earned from the reopened trade was
spent repairing and expanding Canton's defenses. Concealed artillery
batteries were built along the Pear River, Chinese soldiers were
deployed in Whampoa and the Bocca Tigris, and hundreds of small river
craft were armed for war. A bulletin sent from the Daoguang Emperor
commanded the Qing forces to "Exterminate the rebels at all points,"
and orders were given to drive the British from the Pearl River before
reclaiming Hong Kong and driving the invaders out of China
altogether. This order was leaked and became widely circulated in
Canton among foreign merchants, who were already suspicious of Chinese
intentions after learning of the Qing military buildup. In May many
Cohong merchants and their families left the city, raising further
concerns about a renewal of hostilities. Rumors spread that Chinese
divers were being trained to drill holes in the hulls of British
ships, and that fleets of fire rafts were being prepared for
deployment against the Royal Navy. During the buildup the Qing
army was weakened by infighting between units and lack of confidence
in Yishan, who openly distrusted Cantonese civilians and soldiers,
instead choosing to rely on forces drawn from other Chinese
provinces. On 20 May Yishan issued a statement, asking the
"people of Canton, and all foreign merchants who are respectfully
obedient, not to tremble with alarm and be frightened out of their
wits at the military hosts that are gathering around, there being no
probability of hostilities." The next day Elliot requested that all
British merchants evacuate the city by sundown, and several warships
were recalled to their positions in front of Canton.
On the night of 21 May the Qing launched a coordinated night attack on
the British army and navy. Artillery batteries hidden in Canton
and on the Pearl River (many of which the British believed they had
disabled earlier) opened fire, and Qing soldiers retook the British
Factory. A large formation of 200 fire rafts connected by a chain was
sent drifting towards the British ships at Canton, and fishing boats
armed with matchlock guns began to engage the Royal Navy. The British
warships were able to evade the attack, and stray rafts set Canton's
waterfront on fire, illuminating the river and foiling the night
attack. Downriver at Whamoa the Chinese attacked the British vessels
at anchor there and attempted to prevent ships from reaching Canton.
Having suspected an attack, (and as a consequence delaying his own
offensive) Major General Gough consolidated the British forces at Hong
Kong and ordered a rapid advance upriver to Canton. These
reinforcements arrived on 25 May, and the British counter-attacked,
taking the last four Qing forts above Canton and bombarding the
city. The Qing army fled in panic when the city heights were
taken, and the British pursued them into the countryside. On 29 May a
crowd of around 20,000 Cantonese villagers and townspeople attacked
and defeated a company of 60 Indian sepoys in what became known as the
Sanyuanli Incident, and Gough ordered a retreat back to the river. The
fighting subsided on 30 May 1841 and Canton came fully under British
occupation. Following the capture of Canton the British
command and the governor-general of Canton agreed to a cease-fire in
the region. Under the terms of the limited peace (later widely
referred to as "The Ransom of Canton"), the British were paid to
withdraw beyond the Bogue forts, an action they completed by 31
May. The peace treaty was signed by Elliot without consulting the
British army or Navy, an act which displeased General Gough.
The defense of Canton was declared a diplomatic success by Yishan. In
a letter to the Emperor, he wrote that the barbarians had begged "the
chief general that he would implore the great Emperor in their behalf,
that he would have mercy upon them, and cause their debts to be repaid
them, and graciously permit them to carry on their commerce, when they
would immediately withdraw their ships from the Bocca Tigris, and
never dare again to raise any disturbance." However, General Yang
Fang was reprimanded by the Emperor for his agreeing to a truce rather
than forcefully resisting the British. The Emperor was not
informed the British expedition had not been defeated and was very
much intact. The imperial court continued to debate China's next
course of action for the war, as the
Daoguang Emperor wanted Hong Kong
HMS Wellesley and the British squadron sailing from Hong Kong for the
attack on Amoy in 1841.
Following their withdraw from Canton, the British relocated the
expeditionary force to Hong Kong. Just as with the Chinese commanders,
the British leaders debated how the war should be continued. Elliot
wanted to cease military operations and reopen trade, while Major
General Gough wanted to capture the city of Amoy and blockade the
Yangtze River. In July a typhoon struck Hong Kong, damaging
British ships in the harbor and destroying some of the facilities the
expedition was building on the island. The situation changed when
on 29 July Elliot was informed that he had been replaced as
Superintendent by Henry Pottinger, who arrived in Hong Kong on 10
August to begin his administration. Pottinger wanted to negotiate
terms with the Qing for the entire country of China, rather than just
the Pearl River, and so he turned away Chinese envoys from Canton and
gave permission for the expeditionary force to proceed with its war
plans. Admiral Sir William Parker also arrived in Hong Kong to replace
Humphrey Fleming Senhouse
Humphrey Fleming Senhouse (who had died of a fever on 29 June) as the
commander of the British naval forces in China. It was agreed by the
British commanders that combat operations should be moved north to put
pressure on Beijing, and on 21 August the fleet sailed for Amoy.
British troops at the Battle of Amoy, 1841
On 25 August the British fleet entered the
Jiulong River estuary and
arrived at Amoy. The city was prepared for a naval assault, as Qing
military engineers had built several artillery batteries into the
granite cliffs overlooking the river. A purely naval assault was
considered too risky by Parker, prompting Gough to order a combined
naval and ground attack on the defenses. On 26 August British marines
and regular infantry (under the covering fire of the Royal Navy)
flanked and destroyed the Chinese defenses guarding the river. Several
large British ships failed to destroy the largest of the Chinese
batteries (which withstood over 12,000 cannonballs being fired at
it), so the position was scaled and captured by the British
infantry. The city of Amoy was abandoned on 27 August, and British
soldiers entered the inner town where they blew up the citadel's
powder magazine. 26 Chinese junks and 128 cannons were captured, with
the captured guns being thrown into the river by the British. As Lord
Palmerston wanted Amoy to become an international trade port at the
end of the war, Gough ordered that no looting be tolerated and had
officers enforce the death penalty for anyone found to be plundering.
However, many Chinese merchants refused to ask for British protection
out of fear of being branded as traitors to the Qing dynasty. The
British withdrew to an island on the river, where they established a
small garrison and blockaded the Jiulong River. With the city empty of
any army, peasants, criminals, and deserters looted the town. The Qing
army retook the city and restored order several days later, after
which the city governor declared that a victory had been won and 5
British ships sunk.
In Britain, changes in Parliament resulted in Lord Palmerston being
removed from his post as Foreign Minister on 30 August. William Lamb,
2nd Viscount Melbourne replaced him, and sought a more measured
approach to the situation in China. Lamb remained a supporter of the
In September 1841, the British transport ship Nerbudda was shipwrecked
on a reef off the northern coast of Taiwan after a brief gunnery duel
with a Chinese fort. This sinking was followed by the loss of the brig
Ann on another reef in March 1842. The survivors of both ships were
captured and marched to southern Taiwan, where they were imprisoned.
197 were executed by Qing authorities on 10 August 1842, while an
additional 87 died from ill-treatment in captivity. This became known
as the Nerbudda incident.
October 1841 saw the British solidify their control over the central
Chinese coast. Chusan had been exchanged for Hong Kong on the
authority of Qishan in January 1841, after which the island had been
re-garrisoned by the Qing. Fearing that the Chinese would improve the
island's defenses, the British captured Chusan for a second time on 1
October and reestablished their control over Dinghai's important
On 10 October a British naval force bombarded and captured a fort on
the outskirts of
Ningbo in central China. A battle broke out between
the British army and a Chinese force of 1500 men on the road between
the town of Chinhai and Ningbo, during which the Chinese were routed.
Following the defeat, Chinese authorities evacuated
Ningbo and the
empty city was taken by the British on 13 October. An imperial cannon
manufactory in the city was captured by the British, reducing the
ability of the Qing to replace their lost equipment, and the fall of
the city threatened the nearby Qiantang River. The capture
Ningbo forced the British command to examine their policy towards
occupied Chinese territory and prizes of war. Admiral Parker and
Superintendent Pottinger wanted a percentage of all captured Chinese
property to be turned over to the British as legal prizes of war,
while General Gough argued that this would only turn the Chinese
population against the British, and that if property had to be seized,
it should be public property rather than private. British policy
eventual settled that 10% of all property captured by the British
expeditionary forces would be seized as war loot in retaliation for
injustices done to British merchants. Gough later stated that this
edict would compel his men to "punish one set of robbers for the
benefit of another."
Fighting ceased for the winter of 1841 while the British
resupplied. False reports sent by Yishan to the Emperor in
Beijing resulted in the continued British threat being downplayed. In
late 1841 the
Daoguang Emperor discovered that his officials in Canton
and Amoy had been sending him embellished reports. He ordered the
governor of Guangxi, Liang Chang-chü, to send him clear accounts of
the events in Canton, noting that since
Guangxi was a neighboring
province, Liang must be receiving independent accounts. He warned
Liang that he would be able to verify his information by obtaining
secret inquiries from other places. Yishan was recalled to the
capital and faced trial by the imperial court, which removed him from
command. Now aware of the severity of the British threat, Chinese
towns and cities began to fortify against naval incursions.
In the spring of 1842 the
Daoguang Emperor ordered his cousin Yijing
to retake the city of Ningpo. In the ensuing
Battle of Ningpo
Battle of Ningpo on 10
March the British garrison repelled the assault with rifle fire and
naval artillery. At Ningpo the British lured the Qing army into the
city streets before opening fire, resulting in heavy Chinese
casualties. The British pursued the retreating Chinese
army, capturing the nearby city of Cixi on 15 March.
The important harbor of
Zhapu was captured on 18 May in the Battle of
Chapu. A British fleet bombarded the town, forcing its surrender. A
holdout of 300 soldiers of the
Eight Banners stalled the advance of
British army for several hours, an act of heroism that was commended
Yangtze river campaign
With many Chinese ports now blockaded or under British occupation,
Major General Gough sought to cripple the finances of the Qing Empire
by striking up the Yangtze River. 25 Warships and 10000 men were
assembled at Ningpo and
Zhapu in May for a planned advance into the
Chinese interior. The expedition's advance ships sailed up the
Yangtze and captured the emperor's tax barges, a devastating blow that
slashed the revenue of the imperial court in
Beijing to just a
fraction of what it had been.
British troops capture Chinkiang in the last major battle of the war,
21 July 1842
On 14 June the mouth of the
Huangpu River was captured by the British
fleet. On 16 June the
Battle of Woosung
Battle of Woosung occurred, after which the
British captured the towns of Wusong and Baoshan. The undefended
Shanghai were occupied by the British on 19 June.
Following the battle,
Shanghai was looted by retreating Qing
banner-men, British soldiers, and local civilians. Qing Admiral Chen
Huacheng was killed while defending a fort in Woosong.
The fall of
Shanghai left the vital city of
Nanjing (Known as
Jiangning under the Qing) vulnerable. The Qing amassed an army of
56,000 Manchu Banner-men and Han Green Standards to defend Liangjiang
Province, and strengthened their river defenses on the Yangtze.
However, British naval activity in Northern
China led to resources and
manpower being withdrawn to defend against a feared attack on
Beijing. The Qing commander in Liangjiang Province released 16
British prisoners with the hope that a ceasefire could be reached, but
poor communications led both the Qing and the British to reject any
overtures at peace. In secret, the
Daoguang Emperor considered
signing a peace treaty with the British, but only in regards to the
Yangtze River and not the war as a whole. Had it been signed, the
British forces would have been paid to not enter the Yangtze
On 14 July the British fleet on the Yangtze began to sail up the
river. Reconnaissance alerted Gough to the logistical importance of
the city of Zhenjiang, and plans were made to capture it. Most of
the city's guns had been relocated to Wusong and had been captured by
the British when said city had been taken. The Qing commanders inside
the city were disorganized, with Chinese sources stating that over 100
traitors were executed in
Zhenjiang prior to the battle. The
British fleet arrived off of the city on the morning of 21 July, and
the Chinese forts defending the city were blasted apart. The Chinese
defenders initially retreated into the surrounding hills, causing a
premature British landing. Fighting erupted when thousands of Chinese
soldiers emerged from the city, beginning the Battle of Chinkiang.
British engineers blew open the western gate and stormed into the
city, where fierce street to street fighting ensued.
devastated by the battle, with many Chinese soldiers and their
families committing suicide rather than be taken prisoner. The
British suffered their highest combat losses of the war (36 killed)
taking the city.
Oil painting depicting the signing of the Treaty of Nanking.
Zhenjiang the British fleet cut the vital Grand Canal,
Caoyun system and severely disrupting the Chinese
ability to distribute grain throughout the Empire. The
Zhenjiang on 3 August, intending to sail to Nanking.
They arrived outside the
Jiangning District on 9 August, and were in
position to assault the city by 11 August. Though explicit permission
to negotiate had not yet been granted by the emperor, Qing officials
inside the city agreed to a British request to negotiate.
Treaty of Nanking
Main article: Treaty of Nanking
On 14 August a Chinese delegation led by Kiying and Llipu departed
Nankin for the British fleet. Negotiations lasted for several weeks as
the British delegation insisted the treaty be accepted by Daoguang
Emperor. The Peking court advised the emperor to accept the treaty,
and on 21 August the
Daoguang Emperor authorized his diplomats to sign
the peace treaty with the British. The First
officially ended on 29 August 1842 with the signing of the Treaty of
Nanking. The document was signed by officials of the British and
Qing empires aboard the HMS Cornwallis.
Technology and tactics
The British military superiority during the conflict drew heavily on
the success of the Royal Navy.
Royal Navy steamship destroying a Chinese junk with a Congreve
rocket. Lightly armored Chinese warships were decimated by heavy guns
and explosive weaponry.
British warships carried more guns than their Chinese opponents and
were maneuverable enough to evade Chinese boarding actions. Steam
ships such as HMS Nemesis were able to move against winds and tides in
Chinese rivers, and were armed with heavy guns and congreve
rockets. Several of the larger British warships in
the third-rates HMS Cornwallis, HMS Wellesley, and HMS Melville)
carried more guns than entire fleets of Chinese junks. British
naval superiority allowed the
Royal Navy to attack Chinese forts with
very little danger to themselves, as British naval cannons out-ranged
the vast majority of the Qing artillery.
British line infantry advancing on a Chinese position.
British soldiers in
China were equipped with Brunswick rifles and
rifle-modified Brown Bess muskets, both of which possessed an
effective firing range of 200–300 metres. British marines
were equipped with percussion caps that greatly reduced weapon
misfires and allowed firearms to be used in damp environments. In
terms of gunpowder, the British formula was better manufactured and
contained more sulfur than the Chinese mixture. This granted
British weapons an advantage in terms of range, accuracy and
projectile velocity. British artillery was lighter (owing to improved
forging methods) and more maneuverable than the cannons used by the
Chinese. As with the naval artillery, British guns out-ranged the
In terms of tactics, the British forces in
China followed doctrines
established during the
Napoleonic Wars that had been adapted during
the various colonial wars of the 1820s and 1830s. Many of the British
soldiers deployed to
China were veterans of colonial wars in India and
had experience fighting larger but technologically inferior
armies. In battle, the British line infantry would advance
towards the enemy in columns, forming ranks once they had closed to
firing range. Companies would commence firing volleys into the enemy
ranks until they retreated. If a position needed to be taken, an
advance or charge with bayonets would be ordered. Light infantry
companies screened the line infantry formations, protecting their
flanks and utilizing skirmishing tactics to disrupt the enemy.
British artillery was used to destroy the Qing artillery and break up
enemy formations. During the conflict, the British superiority in
range, rate of fire, and accuracy allowed the infantry to deal
significant damage to their enemy before the Chinese could return
fire. The use of naval artillery to support infantry operations
allowed the British to take cities and forts with minimal
The overall strategy of the British during the war was to inhibit the
finances of the Qing Empire, with the ultimate goal of acquiring a
colonial possession on the Chinese coast. This was accomplished
through the capture of Chinese cities and by blockading major river
systems. Once a fort or city had been captured, the British would
destroy the local arsenal and disable all of the captured guns.
They would then move on to the next target, leaving a small garrison
behind. This strategy was planned and implemented by Major General
Gough, who was able to operate with minimal input from the British
government after Superintendent Elliot was recalled in 1841. The
large number of private British merchants and
East India Company
East India Company ships
Singapore and the India colonies ensured that the British
China were adequately supplied.
Chinese soldiers armed with a gingal during the First
From the onset of the war the Chinese navy was severely disadvantaged.
Chinese war junks were intended for use against pirates or equivalent
types of vessels, and were most effective in close range river
engagements. Due to their ships' slow speeds, Qing captains
consistently found themselves sailing towards much more maneuverable
British ships, and as a consequence the Chinese could only use their
bow guns. The size of the British ships made traditional boarding
tactics useless, and the junks carried smaller numbers of inferior
weaponry. In addition, the Chinese ships were poorly armored; in
several battles, British shells and rockets penetrated Chinese
magazines and detonated gunpowder stores. Highly maneuverable
steamships such the HMS Nemesis could decimate small fleets of junks,
as the junks had little chance of catching up to and engaging the
faster British steamers. The only western-style warship in the
Qing Navy, the converted
East Indiaman Cambridge, was destroyed in the
Battle of First Bar.
The defensive nature of the conflict resulted in the Chinese relying
heavily an extensive network of fortifications. The Kangxi Emperor
(1654–1722) began the construction of river defenses to combat
pirates, and encouraged the use of western style cannons. By the time
of the First
Opium War, multiple forts defended most major Chinese
cities and waterways. Although the forts were well armed and
strategically positioned, the Qing defeat exposed major flaws in their
design. The cannons used in the Qing defensive fortifications were a
collection of Chinese, Portuguese, Spanish, and British pieces.
The domestically produced Chinese cannon were crafted using sub-par
forging methods, limiting their effectiveness in combat and causing
excessive gun barrel wear. The Chinese blend of gunpowder contained
more charcoal than the British mixture did. While this made the
explosive more stable and thus easier to store, it also limited its
potential as a propellant, decreasing projectile range and
accuracy. Overall, Chinese cannon technology was considered
to be 200 years behind that of the British. Chinese forts were
unable to withstand attacks by European weaponry, as they were
designed without angled glacis and many did not have protected
magazines. The limited range of the Qing cannon allowed the
British to bombard the Qing defenses from a safe distance, then land
soldiers to storm them with minimal risk. Many of the larger Chinese
guns were built as fixed emplacements and were unable to be maneuvered
to fire at British ships. The failure of the Qing fortifications
coupled with the Chinese underestimation of the
Royal Navy allowed the
British to force their way up major rivers and impede Qing
logistics. Most notably, the powerful series of forts at Humen
were well positioned to stop an invader from proceeding upriver to
Canton, but it was not considered that an enemy would attack and
destroy the forts themselves, as the British did during the war.
At the start of the war the Qing army consisted of over 200,000
soldiers, with around 800,000 men being able to be called for war.
These forces consisted of Manchu Bannermen, the Green Standard Army,
provincial militias, and imperial garrisons. The Qing armies were
armed with matchlocks and shotguns, which had an effective range of
100 metres. Chinese historians estimate 30–40% of the Qing
forces were armed with firearms. Chinese soldiers were also
equipped with halberds, spears, swords, and crossbows. The Qing
dynasty also employed large batteries of artillery in battle.
Painting of a battle between Qing matchlock-armed infantry and British
line infantry at the Battle of Chinkiang. The retreat of the Qing
infantry into the city and the ensuing close-quarters combat led to
heavy casualties on both sides.
The tactics of the Qing remained consistent with what they had been in
previous centuries. Soldiers with firearms would form ranks
and fire volleys into the enemy while men armed with spears and pikes
would drive (described by the Chinese as Tuī (推) push) the enemy
off of the battlefield. Cavalry was used to break infantry
formations and pursue routed enemies, while Qing artillery was used to
scatter enemy formations and destroy fortifications. During the
Opium War, these tactics were unable to successfully deal with
British firepower. Chinese melee formations were decimated by
artillery, and Chinese soldiers armed with matchlocks could not
effectively exchange fire with British ranks, who greatly out ranged
them. Most battles of the war were fought in cities or on
cliffs and riverbanks, limiting the Qing usage of cavalry. Many Qing
cannon were destroyed by British counter-battery fire, and British
light infantry companies were consistently able to outflank and
capture Chinese artillery batteries. A British officer said of
the opposing Qing forces, "The Chinese are robust muscular fellows,
and no cowards; the Tartars [i.e. Manchus] desperate; but neither are
well commanded nor acquainted with European warfare. Having had,
however, experience of three of them, I am inclined to supposed that a
Tartar bullet is not a whit softer than a French one."
The strategy of the Qing Dynasty during the war was to prevent the
British from seizing Chinese territory. This defensive strategy
was hampered by the Qing severely underestimating the capacity of the
British military. Qing defenses on the Pearl and Yangtze rivers were
ineffective in stopping the British push inland, and superior naval
artillery prevented the Chinese from retaking cities. The
Qing imperial bureaucracy was unable to react quickly to the prodding
British attacks, while officials and commanders often reported false,
faulty, or incomplete information to their superiors. The Qing
military system made it difficult to deploy troops to counter the
mobile British forces. In addition, the ongoing conflict with
Sikhs on the Qing border with India drew away some of the most
experienced Qing units from the war with Britain.
The war ended in the signing of China's first Unequal Treaty, the
Treaty of Nanking. In the supplementary Treaty of the Bogue,
the Qing empire also recognized Britain as an equal to
China and gave
British subjects extraterritorial privileges in treaty ports. In 1844,
the United States and France concluded similar treaties with China,
Treaty of Wanghia
Treaty of Wanghia and Treaty of Whampoa, respectively.
Some historians claim that Lord Palmerston, the British Foreign
Secretary, initiated the
Opium War to maintain the principle of free
trade. Professor Glenn Melancon, for example, argues that the
issue in going to war was not opium but Britain's need to uphold its
reputation, its honour, and its commitment to global free trade. China
was pressing Britain just when the British faced serious pressures in
the Near East, on the Indian frontier, and in Latin America. In the
end, says Melancon, the government's need to maintain its honour in
Britain and prestige abroad forced the decision to go to war.
Former American president
John Quincy Adams
John Quincy Adams commented that opium was
"a mere incident to the dispute ... the cause of the war is the
kowtow—the arrogant and insupportable pretensions of
China that she
will hold commercial intercourse with the rest of mankind not upon
terms of equal reciprocity, but upon the insulting and degrading forms
of the relations between lord and vassal."
Critics, however, focused on the immorality of opium. William Ewart
Gladstone denounced the war as "unjust and iniquitous" and criticised
Lord Palmerston's willingness "to protect an infamous contraband
Entrance of the
Opium War Museum in
Humen Town, Guangdong, China.
The war marked the start of what 20th century Chinese nationalists
called the "Century of Humiliation". The ease with which the British
forces defeated the numerically superior Chinese armies damaged the
Qing dynasty's prestige. The
Treaty of Nanking
Treaty of Nanking was a step to opening
the lucrative Chinese market to global commerce and the opium trade.
The interpretation of the war, which was long the standard in the
People's Republic of China, was summarized in 1976: The
Opium War, "in
which the Chinese people fought against British aggression, marked the
beginning of modern Chinese history and the start of the Chinese
people's bourgeois-democratic revolution against imperialism and
The Treaty of Nanking, the Supplementary Treaty of the Bogue, and two
French and American agreements were all "unequal treaties" signed
between 1842 and 1844. The terms of these treaties undermined China's
traditional mechanisms of foreign relations and methods of controlled
trade. Five ports were opened for trade, gunboats, and foreign
residence: Guangzhou, Xiamen, Fuzhou, Ningbo, and Shanghai. Hong Kong
was seized by the British to become a free and open port. Tariffs were
abolished thus preventing the Chinese from raising future duties to
protect domestic industries and extraterritorial practices exempted
Westerners from Chinese law. This made them subject to their own civil
and criminal laws of their home country. Most importantly, the opium
problem was never addressed and after the treaty was signed opium
China was forced to pay 21 million silver taels as
an indemnity, which was used to pay compensation for the traders'
opium destroyed by Commissioner Lin. A couple of years after the
treaties were signed internal rebellion began to threaten foreign
trade. Due to the Qing government's inability to control collection of
taxes on imported goods, the British government convinced the Manchu
court to allow Westerners to partake in government official affairs.
By the 1850s the Chinese Maritime Customs Service, one of the most
important bureaucracies in the Manchu Government, was partially
staffed and managed by Western Foreigners. In 1858 opium was
legalised, and would remain a problem.
Commissioner Lin, often referred to as "Lin the Clear Sky" for his
moral probity, was made a scapegoat. He was blamed for ultimately
failing to stem the tide of opium imports and usage as well as for
provoking an unwinnable war through his rigidity and lack of
understanding of the changing world. Nevertheless, as the Chinese
nation formed in the 20th century, Lin became viewed as a hero, and
has been immortalized at various locations around
Opium War both reflected and contributed to a further
weakening of the Chinese state's power and legitimacy. Anti-Qing
sentiment grew in the form of rebellions, such as the Taiping
Rebellion, a war lasting from 1850–64 in which at least 20 million
Chinese died. The decline of the
Qing dynasty was beginning to be felt
by much of the Chinese population.
The opium trade faced intense enmity from the later British Prime
Minister William Ewart Gladstone. As a member of Parliament,
Gladstone called it "most infamous and atrocious" referring to the
opium trade between
China and British India in particular.
Gladstone was fiercely against both of the
Opium Wars Britain waged in
China in the First
Opium War initiated in 1840 and the Second Opium
War initiated in 1857, denounced British violence against Chinese, and
was ardently opposed to the British trade in opium to China.
Gladstone lambasted it as "Palmerston's
Opium War" and said that he
felt "in dread of the judgments of God upon England for our national
iniquity towards China" in May 1840. A famous speech was made by
Gladstone in Parliament against the First
Gladstone criticised it as "a war more unjust in its origin, a war
more calculated in its progress to cover this country with permanent
disgrace". His hostility to opium stemmed from the effects opium
brought upon his sister Helen. Due to the First
Opium war brought
on by Palmerston, there was initial reluctance to join the government
of Peel on part of Gladstone before 1841.
Click on a battle to go directly to the relevant article.
Illustrated Treatise on the Maritime Kingdoms
Opium War (film)
William Jardine (merchant)
William Napier, 9th Lord Napier
Contemporaneous Qing Dynasty wars:
Sino-Sikh war (1841–1842)
Fictional and narrative literature
Leasor, James. Mandarin-Gold. London: Heinemann, 1973, e-published
James Leasor Ltd, 2011
River of Smoke (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2011).
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^ Fay (2000) pp. 203
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^ Correspondence Relating to
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^ Hansard, 16 January 1840
^ There is often the misunderstanding, even among historians, that the
House of Commons approved the
Opium War when the motion was voted on 9
April 1840. It is therefore useful to quote directly from the Hansard
the exact wording of the motion: "The right hon. Baronet concluded
with moving that— It appears to this House, on consideration of the
papers relating to China, presented to this House, by command of her
Majesty, that the interruption in our commercial and friendly
intercourse with that country, and the hostilities which have since
taken place, are mainly to be attributed to the want of foresight and
precaution on the part of her Majesty's present advisers, in respect
to our relations with China, and especially to their neglect to
furnish the superintendent at Canton with powers and instructions
calculated to provide against the growing evils connected with the
contraband traffic in opium, and adapted to the novel and difficult
situation in which the superintendent was placed."
Opium War, 1840–1842 , Peter Ward Fay, The University of North
Carolina Press, 1975, p.202
^ a b Justifiers of the British
Opium Trade: Arguments by Parliament,
Traders, and the Times Leading Up to the
^ The exact wording of the motion quoted from the Hansard is: “That
an humble address be presented to her Majesty, to express to her
Majesty the deep concern of this House in learning that an
interruption has occurred in the friendly relations and commercial
intercourse which had so long subsisted with the Chinese empire; and
to represent to her Majesty that these calamities have, in the opinion
of this House, been occasioned by British subjects having persevered
in taking opium to China, in direct and known violation of the laws of
that empire; and to request that her Majesty will be graciously
pleased to take immediate measures for the prevention of such
proceedings, which are so dishonourable to the character, and so
detrimental to the interests of her subjects; and to assure her
Majesty, that if any additional powers should be found requisite for
the purpose, this House will readily concur in granting them to her
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References and further reading
McPherson, Duncan, Carruthers, Bob, "The First
Opium War, The Chinese
Expedition 1840–1842, the illustrated edition", Coda Books Ltd
(2013). ISBN 978-1781583609.
Beeching, Jack, The Chinese
Opium Wars, Hutchinson, 1975, Harcourt,
Fairbank, John King, Trade and Diplomacy on the
China Coast; the
Opening of the Treaty Ports, 1842–1854 (Cambridge, MA: Harvard
University Press, 1953).
Fay, Peter Ward, The
Opium War, 1840–1842: Barbarians in the
Celestial Empire in the early part of the nineteenth century and the
way by which they forced the gates ajar (Chapel Hill, North Carolina:
University of North Carolina Press, 1975).
Gao, Shujuan (高淑娟); Feng, Bin (冯斌) (2003). Comparative
Outline of Chinese and Japanese Foreign Policy: Central Trade Policy
in the Final Years of the Imperial Era
Qinghua University Chinese
Economic Historiography Series (清华大学中国经济史学丛书)
Qinghua University Publishing (清华大学出版社).
ISBN 978-7302075172, ISBN 978-7302075172.
Gray, Jack (2002). Rebellions and Revolutions:
China from the 1800s to
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University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-870069-2.
Greenberg, Michael. British Trade and the Opening of China, 1800–42.
(Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, Cambridge Studies in Economic
History, 1951). Various reprints. Uses Jardine Matheson papers to
detail the British side of the trade.
Greenwood, Adrian (2015). Victoria's Scottish Lion: The Life of Colin
Campbell, Lord Clyde. UK: History Press. p. 496.
Hanes, W. Travis; Sanello, Frank (2004).
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Hoe, Susanna; Roebuck, Derek (1999). The Taking of Hong Kong: Charles
and Clara Elliot in
China Waters. Curzon Press.
Hsin-Pao Chang. Commissioner Lin and the
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(London, Picador, 2011 ISBN 0-330-45747-0). Well referenced
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Detailed study of the economics of the trade.
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& Despatches Published During the Above Period. London: Saunders
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court records and diaries, presents the debates among Chinese
officials whether to legalise or suppress the use and trade in opium.
Perdue, Peter C., "The First
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Technology, 2011. MIT Visualizing Cultures).
Haijian, Mao (2016-10-18). The Qing Empire and the
Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9781107069879.
Rait, Robert S. (1903). The Life and Campaigns of Hugh, First Viscount
Gough, Field-Marshal. Volume 1. Westminster: Archibald Constable.
Frontier and Overseas Expeditions From India, vol. 6, p. 382
Wakeman, Frederic E. (1997). Strangers at the Gate: Social Disorder in
South China, 1839–1861. University of California Press.
Hummel, Arthur William (1943). Eminent Chinese of the Ch'ing Period
(1644–1912). Washington, D.C.: United States Government Printing
Spence, Jonathan D. (1999). The Search for Modern
China (second ed.).
New York: W.W. Norton & Company. ISBN 0-393-97351-4.
Waley, Arthur, The
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Correspondence Relating to
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The Chinese Repository (1840). Volume 8.
Waley, Arthur (2013) [First published 1958]. The
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Myers, H. Ramon; Wang, Yeh-Chien (2002), "Economic developments,
1644–1800", in Peterson Willard J. (ed.), Part One: The Ch'ing
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at the Margins: Culture, Ethnicity, and Frontier in Early Modern
China, University of California Press, ISBN 0-520-23015-9.
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Eight Banners and Ethnic
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Bingham, John Elliot (1843). Narrative of the Expedition to
the Commencement of the War to Its Termination in 1842 (2nd ed.).
Volume 2. London: Henry Colburn.
Hoe, Susanna; Roebuck, Derek (1999). The Taking of Hong Kong: Charles
and Clara Elliot in
China Waters. Richmond, Surrey: Curzon Press.
Charles C. Mann (2011), 1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus
Created, Random House Digital, pp. 123–163,
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China (3rd ed.). London: Henry Colburn.
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Compilation Group for the "History of Modern China" Series. (2000).
Opium War. Honolulu: University Press of the Pacific; reprint from
1976 edition. ISBN 0-89875-150-0.
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Community at Canton and the Shaping of American
1784–1844. Bethlehem, PA: Lehigh University Press; reprinted, Hong
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John K. Derden, "The British Foreign Office and Policy Formation: The
1840's," Proceedings & Papers of the Georgia Association of
Historians (1981) pp 64–79.
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Empire. Volume 1. New York: Paragon Book Gallery.
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the Expansion of European Colonial Empires in the Nineteenth Century"
(PDF). The Journal of Modern History. 51 (2): 231–263.
doi:10.1086/241899. Retrieved June 19, 2011.
Bulletins and Other State Intelligence. Compiled and arranged from the
official documents published in the London Gazette. London: F. Watts.
Granville G. Loch. The Closing Events of the Campaign in China: The
Operations in the Yang-tze-kiang and treaty of Nanking . London. 1843
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Chinese Empire" (Chinese translation) vol. 1, pp. 755–756.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to First
Hansard of the British Parliament 1840s
Perdue, Peter C., "The First
Opium War: The Anglo-Chinese War of
Opium Trade" (Cambridge, MA: Massachusetts Institute of
Technology, 2011. MIT Visualizing Cultures).
Perdue, Peter C., "The First
Opium War: The Anglo-Chinese War of
1839–1842: Hostilities" (Cambridge, MA: Massachusetts Institute of
Technology, 2011. MIT Visualizing Cultures).
Opium War and Foreign Encroachment," Education for Educators
(Columbia University). Resources for teaching.
Opium War Museum at Google Cultural Institute
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