Yuan Shikai Biography

Yuan Shikai was a Chinese military and government official who became the first official president of the Republic of China in 1912. Check out this biography to know about his childhood, family life, achievements and fun facts about him.

Quick Facts

Birthday: September 16, 1859

Nationality: Chinese

Famous: Presidents Political Leaders

Died At Age: 56

Sun Sign: Virgo

Born Country: China

Born in: Xiangcheng, Henan, Qing Empire

Famous as: Former President of the Republic of China

Family:

Spouse/Ex-: Lady Guo, Lady Kim, Lady Lee, Lady Liu, Lady O, Lady Shen, Lady Yang, Lady Ye, Lady Zhang, Yu Yishang

father: Yuan Baozhong

mother: Yuan Baoqing

children: Yuan Bozhen, Yuan Cizhen, Yuan Fuzhen, Yuan Huanzhen, Yuan Huzhen, Yuan Jizhen, Yuan Ke'an, Yuan Keding, Yuan Kedu, Yuan Keduan, Yuan Kefan, Yuan Kehe, Yuan Kehuan, Yuan Kejian, Yuan Kejie, Yuan Kejiu, Yuan Keliang, Yuan Keqi, Yuan Kequan, Yuan Kewen, Yuan Kexiang, Yuan Keyou, Yuan Kezhen, Yuan Lingzhen, Yuan Qizhen, Yuan Ruizhen, Yuan Shuzhen, Yuan Sizhen, Yuan Yizhen, Yuan Zhongzhen

Died on: June 6, 1916

place of death: Beijing, Republic of China

Cause of Death: Uremia

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Yuan Shikai was a Chinese military and government official who became the first official president of the Republic of China in 1912. He founded the Hongxian dynasty and was the Emperor of China for 83 days. Yuan Shikai was a great commander during the late Qing dynasty who was responsible for the modernization of the New Army. He was involved in the Guangxu Emperor's 'Hundred Days' Reform', and after dethroning him in support of Empress Dowager Cixi, he continued his efforts to modernize the army, as well as the educational, judicial and financial systems. He was instrumental in the abdication of the Xuantong Emperor, the last monarch of the Qing dynasty, following which he took power as the first official president of the Republic of China. However, despite his popularity, especially among the military officials, he was criticized for accepting most of Japan's 21 demands, and fell out of favor of his people after he decided to revive hereditary monarchy by establishing his own dynasty.

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Childhood & Early Life
  • Yuan Shikai was born on September 16, 1859, into a prestigious landed military family from the village of Zhangying, Xiangcheng County, Chenzhou Prefecture, Henan, China. He began learning traditional Confucian teachings at the age of six, but was more interested in physical activities such as riding, fencing and boxing.
  • In 1876, he married his first wife, Yu Yishang from the Yu family, and welcomed his first child, a son named Yuan Keding, in 1878. Throughout his life, he had nine more concubines who bore him 16 more sons and 15 daughters.
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Early Career
  • Yuan Shikai unsuccessfully attempted the Imperial examinations twice in 1876 and 1879, following which, instead of a career in civil service, he decided to enter politics by joining the Huai Army. His father helped him secure a post in the Qing Brigade in Tengzhou, Shandong, and he got promoted by purchasing a minor official title in 1880.
  • In 1881, he became an assistant to Wu Changqing, the commander of the Huai Army, who supported the Westernization Movement in the army. The following year, Li Hongzhang, the Viceroy of Zhili, appointed him the leader of the Qing Brigade that was sent to Korea to suppress a military coup against Empress Myeongseong.
  • He was appointed Imperial Resident of Seoul in 1885, which made him the de facto supreme adviser on all Korean government policies, following which he helped train Korea's new army. As the tension between the Chinese and Japanese forces in Korea rose following a rebellion, Yuan was called back to Tianjin in July 1894, before the First Sino-Japanese War officially broke out.
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Late Qing Dynasty
  • While Chinese forces faced a humiliating defeat in the war, Yuan Shikai, who had earned the trust of Li for his contributions in Korea, was made commander of the new army in Tianjin in 1895. As the commander, he introduced training programs that modernized the Dingwu Army, which evolved into the Beiyang Army that was the backbone of the late Qing Dynasty.
  • In 1898, he joined other conservative military leaders in supporting Empress Dowager Cixi's coup against the Guangxu Emperor following the failure of his 'Hundred Days' Reform'. In 1899, he was appointed Governor of Shandong, which held steadily against both the Boxer Rebellion and the Eight Power Allied Forces during his three-year term.
  • He was promoted to Viceroy of Zhili in 1902, and apart from securing funds to empower the Beiyang Army, he also participated in political reforms, creating the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Police.
  • In 1905, he advised the Empress to end the traditional Confucian examination system and instructed the Ministry of Education to implement a new educational system with state-mandated curriculum.
  • After both Empress Dowager and the Guangxu Emperor died in November 1908, Prince Chun, the regent of the infant emperor Pu Yi, relieved him of all his posts in January 1909, fearing a coup. He was unofficially in exile for three years, during which time he kept in touch with his supporters in the Beiyang Army.
  • After the Wuchang Uprising started in October 1911, the Qing Court was forced to request his return, offering lucrative posts, and he finally returned as the Prime Minister of the Imperial Cabinet. To remain useful to the court, he decided to negotiate with the rebellion leader Sun Yat-sen, who had been named first Provisional President of the Republic of China by the revolutionaries.
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Career As President & Emperor
  • Yuan Shikai negotiated the position of President of the Republic of China from Yat-sen on condition that the child emperor Pu Yi abdicated the throne, which he convinced the Empress Dowager Longyu to do. Longyu abdicated on behalf of six-year-old emperor Puyi on February 12, 1912, following which Yat-sen resigned and Yuan became the President of the Republic of China.
  • One month after the Chinese Nationalist Party gained a major victory during the February 1913 democratic elections, the party’s chairman Song Jiaoren, who wanted to limit Presidential powers, was shot dead. Even though Yuan was thought to be behind the assassination, he was not charged due to lack of evidence, but tensions between him and the party increased subsequently.
  • In late 1913, Yat-sen fled to Japan to organize a second revolution against Yuan but failed with Yuan's army achieving complete victory, following which Yuan dissolved parliamentary government and formed presidential government.
  • In 1915, Yuan Shikai’s popularity took a severe hit, after he agreed to almost all of Japan's 21 demands after they captured the German colony at Qingdao.
  • Amidst rumors that popular opinion is in favor of the revival of hereditary monarchy, he took the suggestion of his monarchist supporters and declared himself the Hongxian Emperor of the Chinese Empire in December 1915. Despite his decision to accept Japan’s 21 demands, Japan later backed his opposition, and the longtime British supporters of his regime fell short amidst widespread opposition from within China.
  • As province after province revolted against his Hongxian dynasty, his health condition also declined due to uremia, forcing him to end the empire on March 22, 1916, only after 83 days. The provinces also wanted him to resign from presidency, but he died before that, on June 6, 1916, and his remains were moved to a mausoleum in his home province.
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Trivia
  • As the Governor of Shandong, Yuan Shikai had founded Imperial Shandong University in Jinan in 1901 as a national, modern university which was modeled on Western ideas of education. The institution changed name several times in the following years, and is now the Shandong University.
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How To Cite

Article Title
- Yuan Shikai Biography
Author
- Editors, TheFamousPeople.com
Website
- TheFamousPeople.com
URL
https://www.thefamouspeople.com/profiles/yuan-shikai-37501.php
Last Updated
- December 30, 2019
Yuan Shikai

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