Crusaders Against Opium

Crusaders Against Opium: Protestant Missionaries in China, 1874-1917

KATHLEEN L. LODWICK
Copyright Date: 1996
Edition: 1
Pages: 232
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt130j37n
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Crusaders Against Opium
    Book Description:

    Opium addiction in China during the closing decades of the Ch'ing dynasty afflicted all segments of society. From government officials to farmers, the population fell prey to the effects of the drug. Some provinces reported addiction rates as high as eighty percent.

    With the birth of Chinese nationalism, reformers -- missionaries who had witnessed the effects of opium on Chinese society, students who had studied abroad and returned to their native land with broader perspectives, families who had lost all through the addiction of a loved one, doctors who had firsthand knowledge that opium use led only to death -- cried out against the drug.

    Even though many were convinced that opium use had sapped the strength of China, ending the use of the drug was a complicated problem. Opium trade financed the colonial government of India, and imports amounted to many tons annually. Domestic poppies were also cultivated as source of income.

    Kathleen Lodwick examines the intersecting efforts of Protestant missionaries, particularly medical doctors, who had long denounced opium use, the British Royal Commission on Opium, which was decidedly pro-opium, the U.S. Philippine Commission, which denounced not only the trade but the Chinese people, and the British officials who finally undertook the task of ending the importation of opium to China.

    China kept few records on the amount of drug use or its effects. Missionary medical doctors conducted the first scientific survey on the effects of the drug, and their findings provided clear evidence of its perniciousness. Such evidence could not be ignored, whatever the fortunes involved, and missionaries conducted a campaign of education and awareness in China and abroad. As a result of their efforts, China and Britain entered into a treaty that called for all opium trade to cease by 1917, and both governments as well as the missionaries become immediately active toward that end. The suppression campaign was among the most successful of the late Ch'ing reforms.

    Lodwick tells a fascinating story of imperial exploitation and of a strain of honest crusaders who sought to right some of the wrongs their own nation was perpetrating. This book represents a strong argument against legalization of addictive drugs, a topic being discussed today in the United States as a solution to the societal problems our own drug use has caused.

    eISBN: 978-0-8131-4968-4
    Subjects: History, Religion

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-xi)
  4. [Maps]
    (pp. xii-xiv)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 1-10)

    Dazzling fields of flowers, magnificent to the eye of the be-holder, stretched across the Chinese countryside. Far beyond the horizon more flowers bloomed in India. Beautiful as they were these flowers were not grown to please the eye; with them bloomed international controversy, war, greed, degradation, misery, and death. These were no ordinary blossoms—they were opium poppies.

    Opium was the subject of controversy in China throughout the nineteenth century and into the twentieth. No one could say how many Chinese were addicted to the drug, but addicts surely numbered in the millions, and their families, who suffered indirectly, added...

  6. ONE Opium in China in the Late Nineteenth Century
    (pp. 11-26)

    The origins of the opium poppy (Papaver somniferum) are obscure, but many botanists believe the plant is wild rather than the result of cultivation.¹ No one knows where it originated, but recent evidence suggests it might have been in Europe.² Whether or not the opium poppy was grown in China in ancient times is subject to dispute, but many authors cite the lack of a Chinese word for it as proof that it was not known in China before the arrival of the Westerners. The Chinese term for opium,ya-pien, is clearly a loan word from English. Part of the...

  7. TWO Missionaries Organize to Oppose Opium
    (pp. 27-71)

    As the nineteenth century entered its closing decade, the moral issue came to dominate the arguments of those Chinese and foreigners who were opposed to the continuation of the opium trade. Missionaries were in the forefront of those who wanted to stop the opium traffic on the grounds that it was harmful to the Chinese people and, hence, that the British government was wrong in profiting from it. Those in Britain who were opposed to the trade were fond of citing Commissioner Lin Tse-hsu’s memorial of 1839 to Queen Victoria, in which he described the benevolence of the Chinese emperor,...

  8. THREE The Pro-Opium Forces and Government Investigations
    (pp. 72-115)

    Denunciations of the opium trade did not deter it, as it continued throughout the nineteenth century and into the twentieth, in large part because many firms were involved in the business of dealing in opium and the government of India depended on the trade for some of its revenues and neither was willing to forgo the profits of the trade. There was also a demand for opium because of the number of Chinese who were addicted to it and, indeed, this demand was one of the arguments the pro-opium forces used to defend their position. The pro-opium forces argued if...

  9. FOUR The Anti-Opium Lobby Comes of Age
    (pp. 116-147)

    In the last decade of the Ch’ing dynasty, reforms of the government, the military, and education were implemented in response to the growing public demands for change from the traditional ways. The most successful of these reforms was opium suppression.¹ Medical evidence of the dangers of using the drug had been accumulating for years and now public opinion demanded an end to the curse that had plagued China for centuries. Students returning from abroad joined the call for reform, because they realized that while many countries had drug problems, none had a problem as serious as China’s. More important, the...

  10. FIVE Success and Failures of Opium Suppression
    (pp. 148-180)

    As the opium suppression campaign progressed, there were more and more signs that the Chinese were indeed sincere in their desire to rid their country of all opium. Those who doubted the motives of the Chinese soon had to admit they were dedicated to the effort and committed to seeing complete suppression a reality. Though the Ch’ing dynasty was weak and tottering, this did not stop many officials at all levels of the bureaucracy from trying to improve the country by eradicating poppy cultivation and the use of opium. Because the Chinese attitude toward opium had changed from toleration, or...

  11. Conclusion
    (pp. 181-185)

    Opium was an evil that had long sapped the strength of China. By the late nineteenth century many people realized how physically debilitating the constant use of the drug was. Earlier in the century many people had defended the use of the drug by the Chinese on the grounds that physiologically the Chinese were different from other people and that, consequently, they needed the drug to sustain life. Such statements illustrated the lack of medical knowledge about the true nature of opium, which had beneficial uses if properly controlled but had disastrous effects when used indiscriminately. Largely through the work...

  12. Appendix
    (pp. 186-187)
  13. Notes
    (pp. 188-201)
  14. Bibliography
    (pp. 202-208)
  15. Index
    (pp. 209-218)