The last famous official of the Qing Dynasty died in 1909 (ZhangZhidong, the last famous official of the late Qing Dynasty)

Spread the love

1902 – ZhangZhidong founded Hubei Normal School

In 1911, after the Wuchang Uprising, a group of revolutionary heroes talked and laughed, talking about people who had made outstanding contributions to the cause of the anti Qing revolution.

Everyone remembered a “dead man” two years ago and said that he had taken shelter from him.

It was recalled that on the night of the uprising, the new army had no chance of winning and almost became yellow. At the critical moment, he opened an armory and found that there were all kinds of weapons in it: rifles, mountain cannons, fast guns… His morale was immediately boosted. He carried guns and guns and stormed the Hu Guang governor’s office overnight, scaring governor Rui away.

The revolution succeeded.

Prior to this, Sun Yat Sen, a professional revolutionary, launched ten uprisings, all of which failed.

No one expected that an unplanned uprising would put an end to the old era.

What is the reason?

The revolutionary leaders resumed the uprising and felt that there was no reason to speak of it. If we have to talk about the inevitability of victory, it is only because: This is Wuhan, a place where the former governor of Huguang, ZhangZhidong, has worked hard for more than ten years!

In the dark, Zhang Zhidong left a rich “legacy” to the insurgents – a large amount of cash in the Treasury, a large number of equipment in the military Treasury, the earliest steel plant in modern China, and a new army with high quality and high consciousness.

These became the capital for the success of the revolution.

ZhangZhidong, the last famous official in the late Qing Dynasty, acted as the “grave digger” of the Qing Dynasty two years after his death.

This is the most strange thing in life.


Zhang Zhidong’s career is divided into 44 years old.

In that year, he was promoted to governor of Shanxi Province. He became an official in the capital and became a senior official in the border area.

Before the age of 44, he was one of the most famous cannons in the Empire, fighting against heaven and earth, traitors and corrupt officials.

During the Tongzhi and Guangxu years, the imperial political arena was divided into “clear current” and “Turbid current” based on different characters.

Qingliu is a group of imperial officials and imperial officials, who flaunt integrity, like impeaching corrupt and inferior officials, and are mainly engaged in foreign wars. The drawback is that they are not familiar with the situation, talk big and are unrealistic.

Zhang Zhidong is one of the excellent players. He and Zhang Peilun are known as “qingniu horn” (the homonym of Qingliu is “qingniu”) and are dedicated to serving people.

Turbidity current, on the other hand, were some talented officials who liked to learn from westernization, who were always in harmony with the outside world. The drawback is that most of these people are corrupt and dishonest officials.

Li Hongzhang and Yuan Shikai were the two most successful scholars of the Westernization Movement, so they often became the targets of Qingliu attack.

As a Qingliu, Zhang Zhidong’s masterpiece in this period was to criticize the worship of kindness and betrayal of the country.

In 1878, the Qing government sent Chonghou as an envoy to tsarist Russia to negotiate the return to the Ili region occupied by Tsarist Russia.

Chonghou has no common sense in diplomacy and knows nothing about the border situation in Xinjiang. As a result, Ili was about to return, but China paid a greater price – not only ceding a large area of territory around ILI, but also paying 5million rubles to the Russians.

When the news came out, the whole country was in an uproar. They all scolded Chonghou for losing power and insulting the country.

Only Li Hongzhang is still protecting Chonghou. He believes that the established facts should be recognized and that Russia should not be angered, otherwise the consequences will be very serious.

Zhang Zhidong has long disliked Li Hongzhang’s foreign policy of compromise, so he must kill these traitors.

He gave full play to the spirit of doggedness. In more than a year, he seized on this matter, made more than 20 rounds of criticism, and repeatedly stressed the three central ideas:

1. Ask to kill Chonghou. If you don’t kill him, you can’t thank the world. 2. He advocated entering a state of war readiness and starting a war with the Russians at any time. 3. Scold Li Hongzhang for letting off steam, doing nothing and losing face?

He had a perfectly reasonable passage:

The western countries are attacking our politics, and the eastern countries are thinking of opening up their borders. Now the Russians are provoking a quarrel. If they are more tolerant, then countries will be forced to come. What will they do if they can’t bear it and can’t let it go?

The incident ended when Chonghou was put into prison, Zeng Jize returned to tsarist Russia to negotiate and redeem part of his rights and interests.

However, it is still far from the result Zhang Zhidong wants.

At that time, Zhang Zhidong was regarded as an idealist and Li Hongzhang was a pragmatist. The two often punch each other in the air, but they can’t tell the difference.

However, since 1881, when he became the governor of Shanxi Province, Zhang Zhidong gradually jumped out of the Qing school and moved closer to the Westernization school.

Seeing Zhang Zhidong’s transformation, Li Hongzhang was very proud. He once said a paragraph to satirize Zhang Zhidong:

Things in the world are difficult after they are done, and they are known after they are done. Once upon a time, there were many officials who were famous for correcting problems; Later, he released his external staff and took responsibility for the actual affairs. In the past, he immediately restrained himself and dared not make any rash remarks; When he was promoted to the position of fengjiang, he hated officials more than people. There are people who try to criticize me, but bow down and ask me for advice.

It means that the man who used to be a fierce talker and attacked me the most fiercely knew that it was the most difficult to do practical things when he took the position of a feudal official. Now he asks me for advice and feels like a schoolboy.

Li Hongzhang regarded himself as a forerunner of the Westernization Movement and thought that he had settled on Zhang Zhidong. This is not the case.

In 1884, Zhang Zhidong became governor of Guangdong and Guangxi provinces. What he did during his tenure laid the foundation of his career.

During the Sino French war.

Zhang Zhidong tried his best to take the lead in the war, and he was not as timid as Li Hongzhang. He sent messengers with an urgent letter and 50000 liang of silver to invite veteran fengzicai out of the mountain. However, Li Hongzhang strongly opposed the appointment of fengzicai, saying that he was too old and weak to be of great use.

As a result, fengzicai lived up to the expectations of the public and achieved the great victory of zhennanguan – Liangshan.

At this time, the moderates will accept it if they want to see you.

Li Hongzhang ordered Zhang Zhidong to cease the war and withdraw his troops. “If there is any violation or error, which will lead to other changes, only the supervisor should ask.”.

This made Zhang Zhidong very angry, but there was nothing he could do about it. His own strength in Westernization was far inferior to that of Li Hongzhang, so he was unable to control the imperial court.

Zhang Zhidong made up his mind secretly that he must do a great deal of westernization and catch up.

At this time, the school of Qing Dynasty declined gradually. Zhangpeilun, who was once as famous as Zhang Zhidong, was able to talk but could not do anything. In the Sino French war, he paid tribute to his reputation with the destruction of the Fujian Navy.

Only ZhangZhidong has completed the transformation from a clean flow master to a rising star in the Westernization Movement.

Zhang Zhidong held his breath and wanted to compete with Li Hongzhang.

You Li Hongzhang did a good job in Westernization, but he became a capitulationist; I, Zhang Zhidong, should not only do a better job in the Westernization affairs than you do, but also hold the bottom line of the main combatants.

Zhang Zhidong’s heart is probably riveted with this energy.

His slogan is “westernization is important for today”, and he has ambitious plans to build gun factories, ironmaking factories, textile factories and other large Westernization enterprises in Guangdong.

The machines were all ordered, but he received a transfer order to be governor of Huguang.

It was lihanzhang, lihongzhang’s eldest brother, who succeeded Zhang Zhidong as governor of Guangdong and Guangxi provinces. Interestingly, Li Hanzhang was totally different from his brother. He hated new things and was afraid of wasting money and trouble. Therefore, Zhang Zhidong had to take his factory to Hubei.

In the late Qing Dynasty, there were hundreds of Frontier governors. There were not many people like Zhang Zhidong who were willing to do things and ask for trouble.

Zhang Zhidong’s greatness lies in that he has retained a willful spirit in both Qingliu and Westernization.

In the end, he did a great job:

Hanyang Iron Works was the largest iron and steel plant in Asia at that time, seven years earlier than the Bafan iron making Institute in Japan; The rifle output of Hanyang Arsenal (Hubei gun factory) accounted for 45% of the country, and the “Hanyang made” rifles still played a role in killing the enemy until the Anti Japanese war; It took 7 years to lay out four bureaus of cloth, yarn, silk and linen along the Yangtze River in Wuchang, becoming the largest textile center in Central China; In his hands, Wuhan has surpassed Tianjin, Guangzhou, Nanjing, etc., and become a modern metropolis second only to Shanghai in China

Mao Zedong later made an evaluation of Zhang Zhidong, saying that “when it comes to China’s national industry, heavy industry should not forget Zhang Zhidong”.

After this hard work, Zhang Zhidong had the capital to choke Li Hongzhang.

In 1903, he was briefly transferred to the post of governor of Liangjiang. During this period, he severely criticized the Jiangnan manufacturing Bureau for “more labor and less guns”, which was not helpful to the overall situation of the country’s weapons and equipment.

As we all know, the Jiangnan manufacturing Bureau was Li Hongzhang’s masterpiece in conducting the foreign affairs. At this time, Zhang Zhidong, with the rise of Hubei gun factory, stepped on Li Hongzhang without hesitation.

As a forerunner of the Westernization Movement, Li Hongzhang naturally disliked Zhang Zhidong.

After the invasion of China by the Eight Power Allied forces, the two often abused each other because of political differences.

At that time, Li Hongzhang presided over the peace talks in Beijing and negotiated peace treaties with representatives of 11 western and Eastern countries. Zhang Zhidong always put forward different opinions. Li Hongzhang then said to others:

Xiang Tao (Zhang Zhidong’s character) has been an official for decades, and he is still a scholar.

When Zhang Zhidong heard his words, he fought back:

Shaoquan (Li Hongzhang) has made peace twoorthree times. Does he think he is a senior?

These two words spread for a time in the political arena of the late Qing Dynasty.

Not only to Li Hongzhang, but also to Zeng Guofan and zuozongtang.

As a result, the younger generation of the four famous ministers in the late Qing Dynasty trained himself into an all-round player: comparable to Zeng Guofan in learning, comparable to Li Hongzhang in Westernization, and comparable to zuozongtang in Patriotic War.

Interestingly, among the four famous ministers, Zeng, Zuo and Li all made their fortunes with guns, and only Zhang Zhidong made his fortune with pens.

After 1900, YuanShikai, governor of Zhili, ZhangZhidong, governor of Hunan and Guangdong, and cenchunxuan, governor of Guangdong and Guangdong, were the most powerful, and were called “three governors of the late Qing Dynasty” and “three butchers”.

Among them, Yuan killed the boxers, so he was called “slaughtering the people”; Zhang is known as “butcher of wealth” because he likes to make great achievements and spend money like dirt; CEN, on the other hand, impeached officials with joy and was called “Tu Guan”.

Not to mention the other “two butchers”, but to say that Zhang Zhidong “slaughtered money” is really a slander of his contemporaries.

All imperial officials knew that large sums of money were needed to do great things.

ZhangZhidong was an official who did great things. The draft of the history of the Qing Dynasty said that “when he came to an official, he would be happy to do great things, regardless of the cost.”. In an era of collective inaction by officials, people who do great things will be labeled as “big and happy”, and spending more money will be slandered as “spending money like dirt”. This is the origin of the so-called “killing money”.

In fact, Zhang Zhidong’s undertakings, including light industry, heavy industry, education, railways and so on, cost huge sums of money. However, the funding received from the central government is extremely limited, and the local governments basically raise funds themselves.

This made him worried and forced him to think of many ways.

He has worked hard for more than ten years in Hubei Province, where the economy is not very developed and the tax source is not very abundant. He has raised huge funds and can be called a first-class financial expert of the local governor and the China Super League.

For example, he once sold lottery tickets in Hubei. Because of the proper marketing strategy, Hubei’s subscription tickets exceeded the Jiangnan charity lottery after two issues. Since then, they have been popular in the southern provinces and outstripped in the lottery market in the late Qing Dynasty. They have been issued for ten years, with a total of 117 issues. When the government makes the most profits, it can get “700000 gold” every year.

In the late Qing Dynasty, local officials in Xinjiang were transferred more frequently, but Zhang Zhidong worked as governor of Huguang for more than ten years. What is the reason?

It was not because Zhang Zhidong became a local warlord in the Lianghu region, but because it took too many years to build the Luhan Railway (i.e. the Beijing Wuhan Railway). The road was not repaired, so he could not go, because everyone was worried that once he left, the road would turn yellow nine times out of ten.

Such a painstaking and costly thing, others are unwilling to do, and they can’t do it. It must be done by Zhang Zhidong.

You see, if Zhang Zhidong had been born in the contemporary era, he would have been liuzhijun, and he would not have been corrupt or bribed.

ZhangZhidong is known to be a Nanpi native of Zhili, but he was born in Xingyi Prefecture, Guizhou Province. His father, Zhang Yu, was a magistrate of Xingyi, who was self-centered and devoted to his duties and kept his hands clean. Since childhood, his father taught him this way:

Poor, my family style, you should be mechanical.

Zhang Zhidong firmly remembered his father’s words for a lifetime.

After exploring flowers at the age of 26, Zhang Zhidong spent nearly a decade as an academic officer in various provinces.

This is a good job. In his early years in Beijing, Zeng Guofan was eager to see the opportunity of school politics, and he could earn a fair income.

Zhang Zhidong is different. He is not interested in the silver that should be obtained according to the hidden rules.

When he finished his studies in Sichuan Province, he was paid 20000 liang of silver as a rule, but he resigned without accepting it. As a result, he even had to sell books to raise money.

If you compare him with Li Hongzhang, his personal integrity is far above the latter.

On his 40th birthday, Zhang Zhidong was still an official in Beijing. He was so poor that he pawned his wife’s dowry jewelry for his birthday. Only then did he have money for a banquet.

On his 50th birthday, he was the governor of Guangdong and Guangxi provinces, but on his birthday, he closed the door and refused to accept birthday greetings. The gentry in Guangzhou wrote birthday greetings and sent firecrackers in recognition of his achievements in promoting education. When they arrived at the governor’s office, they were embarrassed to find that they could not even enter the door.

Sometimes when the new year was really tough, Zhang Zhidong sent someone to take charge of the clothes in his family.

In those days, there was a rule in some big pawnshops in Wuchang: whenever the governor yamen pawned a suitcase, he would pay 200 liang of silver for each suitcase. There was no need to open the case for inspection, but only pay silver according to the number of suitcases.

After the Spring Festival, Zhang Zhidong’s hands are a little loose. He will send someone to redeem the box with silver.

Zhanghoucan, Zhang Zhidong’s first granddaughter, said that the family took honesty and integrity as its motto. “My grandfather’s hometown was in Nanpi, Hebei Province. At that time, my grandfather advocated building a railway, but he didn’t agree to build a railway in his hometown. Officials in charge of railway construction ‘led’ the route to his hometown one after another, while Zhang chose to avoid his hometown to show his honesty.”.

Before his death, Zhang Zhidong left a will to his descendants, saying:

He has been an official for more than 40 years. He has worked hard without seeking personal interests. If he doesn’t add a room or an acre of land to his dead house, he can be worthy of his ancestors. I hope you will not forget the national grace, do not fall into the family tradition, and will clearly understand the distinction between gentlemen and villains, do not compete for property, and do not enter the vulgar.

Yanggefei, an Englishman who preached in Hankou in the late Qing Dynasty, once wrote:

Zhang Zhidong is a rare talent among Chinese officials. He doesn’t love money. He could have been a rich man in this empire, but in fact he is a poor man. When wealth entered his yamen, it was used for public utilities and public welfare.

At the end of the Qing Dynasty, with the death of Li Hongzhang, liukunyi and Ronglu, Zhang Zhidong and his younger generation Yuan Shikai became the only two bearers of the Empire.

The quality of their relationship is related to the direction of the Empire.

In September 1907, the 70 year old Zhang Zhidong and Yuan Shikai were formally appointed as the Minister of military aircraft by the imperial court.

This time Zhang Zhidong entered the central core organ of power because Cixi, who was well versed in the art of balance, wanted to use him to balance Yuan Shikai, who was growing bigger and bigger.

YuanShikai inherited the mantle of Li Hongzhang, and it is well known that he fought openly and secretly with Zhang Zhidong.

However, compared with the mutual connection and mutual pinch between Zhang and Li in those days, the relationship between Zhang and Yuan’s contradictions and political opinions is not big.

Their discord is more like the arrogance of their predecessors, which leads to their unhappiness. According to the layout, it belongs to entertainment news, not current political news.

Yuan Shikai, the first governor of Zhili, once went south to Hankou to visit Zhang Zhidong and said to his subordinates:

Today, only two people, Nanpi and I, are capable of undertaking great things.

At the banquet, Zhang and Yuan talked happily. After the banquet, the servants held back, and the two men talked for two hours. Later, Zhang Zhidong fell asleep leaning on the table because of lack of energy.

YuanShikai quietly quit and told his servants not to disturb Xiangshuai.

As YuanShikai was the governor, he had to fire a gun to get in and out of the Yuanmen gate according to the system. Zhang Zhidong was awakened by the gunfire and hurried out to catch up with YuanShikai. They both apologized and agreed to meet later.

The following year, ZhangZhidong passed Baoding in Beijing and paid a return visit to YuanShikai. As a result, in the middle of the banquet, Zhang Zhidong “committed a serious crime in the old case”, fell asleep and snored faintly.

It may be that Zhang Zhidong often dozes off in official activities because of his lack of discipline. It may also be that he, who was born in the formal imperial examination, looked down upon Yuan Shikai, who was born in the army, from the bottom of his heart. In a word, after the two meetings, Zhang and Yuan not only did not enhance their good feelings, but also caused a lot of unhappiness for no reason.

Fortunately, both of them are people who want to achieve great things, so they can keep moving forward and backward together when they have the same political views.

The most typical is the abolition of the imperial examination. At that time, three military aircraft ministers, ZhangZhidong and YuanShikai, agreed, while wangwenshao objected. Two votes to one, abolished the imperial examination system that had affected China for more than a thousand years.

After the death of Cixi, zaifeng, the Regent, decided to avenge his brother (Zaitian, Emperor Guangxu) and wanted to kill YuanShikai.

Zhang Zhidong hardened his head and warned zaifeng that Yuan Shikai was shouldering the important task of military training. He was already full of wings and powerful allies. The capital was under his control. If he handled it carelessly, the ancestral temple of the country would be in danger.

Zaifeng accepted Zhang Zhidong’s advice, and then changed his mind and only let YuanShikai go back to his hometown to recuperate.

It can be seen that Zhang Zhidong has also become Yuan Shikai’s lifesaver.


After Yuan Shikai opened the gap, Zhang Zhidong also failed to fight. Zaifeng had major differences with ZhangZhidong on a series of major issues, and their relationship deteriorated rapidly.

Zhang Zhidong advocated to eliminate the contradiction between man and Han and maintain the stability of the situation.

However, zaifeng was becoming more and more important. He used the Manchu people as his relatives. When removing the influence of Yuan Shikai, he took the opportunity to deprive and weaken the power of some Han officials. At the same time, he appointed his 24-year-old brother Zaixun as the Minister of the Navy and his 22-year-old brother zaitao to manage the affairs of the military advisory office.

As a loyal minister of the Qing Dynasty, Zhang Zhidong had a premonition that if zaifeng came in such a disorderly way, it would be difficult to protect the country. But the struggle with zaifeng was invalid, and he became angry until he vomited blood.

When dealing with a railway fraud case, Zhang Zhidong thought that the candidate recommended by Zai Xun and Zai Tao was inappropriate, and painstakingly told Zai Feng that “public opinion does not belong to this matter, and it will become chaotic”.

Unexpectedly, zaifeng said, “there are soldiers!”

Zhang Zhidong had a big accident and sighed: “I don’t want to hear the words of subjugation!” Subsequently, the disease became more serious.

In terms of constitutionalism, Zhang Zhidong felt that if the country was not established as soon as possible, it would probably lose the people’s will and break out a revolution. Therefore, he has always advocated the speedy establishment of the national assembly. This was also rejected by zaifeng.

This year, Zai Feng was 25 years old and Zhang Zhidong was over 70 years old.

It can be seen that Zai Feng is not old and stubborn, but Zhang Zhidong is more open-minded as he gets older.

On October 4th, 1909, zaifeng went to visit ZhangZhidong.

After zaifeng left, chenbaochen went into the room to inquire about what Regent Wang had just talked about. Zhang Zhidong just sighed: “the country’s luck is over!”

On this day, Zhang Zhidong passed away at the age of 72.

Two years after Zhang Zhidong’s death, on October 10, 1911, Wuchang Uprising broke out in Wuhan, where he had worked hard for more than ten years, overthrowing the Qing Dynasty to which he was loyal.

Zhang Jixu, one of his students, explained why the 1911 Revolution was successful in Wuhan, saying:

(Wuhan) there are official money bureaus and mints to control the finance of the whole province, so there is no fear of the lack of military forces. There are gun factories to supply the war. The establishment of the new army is full of knowledge and ideas, and can understand the purport of the revolution. The leading revolutionaries are also the students they have trained. In terms of spirit and material, he was superior to others at that time. Therefore, great achievements can be achieved. Although the public (Zhang Zhidong) didn’t expect it, but the timing happened. He planted beans and got melons.

Guhongming also said, “the founding of the Republic of China was the cooperation between Sun Yat Sen and zhangxiangtao.”

Sun Yat Sen put it more directly, saying that Zhang Zhidong was a “revolutionary who did not speak of revolution”.

History, in the end, made a long joke with the last famous minister.

(this article only represents the author’s point of view, not the position of this number)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *