Sun Yat-sen is the Founding Father of modern China, the Republic of China (Nationalist China) and the forerunner of democratic revolution in the People’s Republic of China.
As part of a philosophy to make China a free, prosperous, and powerful nation Sun Yat-sen adopted “Three Principles of the People:” “Mínzú, Mínquán, Mínshēng“ (People’s Nationalism, People’s Democracy, People’s Livelihood.)
The Qing Dynasty, also Empire of the Great Qing or Great Qing, was the last imperial dynasty of China, ruling from 1644 to 1912 with a brief, abortive restoration in 1917.
After the outbreak of the Xinhai Revolution on October 10, 1911, revolutionary leader Sun Yat-sen (November 12, 1866 –March 12, 1925) was elected Provisional President and founded the Provisional Government of the Republic of China.
Sun Yat-sen was born to an ordinary farmer’s family in Cuiheng Village, Xiangshan, the South China province of Guangdong.
In 1879, then 13 years of age, he journeyed to Hawaiʻi to join his older brother, Sun Mei, a successful rice farmer, rancher and merchant. He entered ʻIolani at age 14. (ʻIolani)
In Sun Yat-sen’s four years in Hawai’i (1879-1883), he is said to have attended three Christian educational institutions: ʻIolani College, St Louis College and Oʻahu College (Punahou School.) Then, he was called Tai Cheong or Tai Chu.
His three years at ʻIolani are well authenticated. Whether he ever attended St Louis cannot be substantiated by school records, but such a possibility exists. As for Oʻahu College, there is evidence to support the claim, though the time he spent there is not altogether clear. (Soong)
“During his years at ʻIolani and Punahou, he was exposed to Western culture, was strongly influenced by it, and in his young mind, the seeds of Western democracy were planted.” (Lum, ʻIolani) It also “led him to want more western education – more than that required to assist in his brother’s business.” (Soong)
In 1883, Sun registered in the Punahou Preparatory School, one of the fifty children who studied in the two classrooms upstairs in the school building. He was listed as Tai Chu, he was one of three Chinese students, the others being Chung Lee and Hong Tong.
Sun was also influenced by the Anglican and Protestant Christian religious teachings he received; he was later baptized.
He came to Hawaiʻi on six different occasions, initially for schooling and to support his brother’s businesses on Maui. Later, his trips were geared to gain support for revolutionizing China and fundraising for that end.
On his third trip in Hawaiʻi (on November 24, 1894) Sun established the Hsing Chung Hui (Revive China Society,) his first revolutionary society. Among its founders were many Christians, one of them being Chung Kun Ai, his fellow student at ʻIolani (and later founder of City Mill.)
Shortly after, in January 1895, Dr Sun left Hawaiʻi and returned to China to initiate his revolutionary activities in earnest. The funding of the First Canton Uprising mainly came from the Chinese in Hawaiʻi (that first effort failed.)
On another visit to Hawaiʻi (in 1903,) Sun reorganized the Hsing Chung Hui into Chung Hua Ke Min Jun (The Chinese Revolutionary Army) in Hilo.
In 1905, in Tokyo, Sun reorganized the Hsing Chung Hui and other organizations into a political party called the Tung Meng Hui.
Likewise, the Chinese Revolutionary Army was reorganized and all of its members Tung Meng Hui members.
This party spread all over China and rallied all the revolutionists under its wings. He then made his last visit to Hawaiʻi to form the Hawaiʻi Chapter of Tung Meng Hui.
From 1894 to 1911, Sun traveled around the globe advocating revolution and soliciting funds for the cause. At first, he concentrated on China, but his continued need for money forced him elsewhere. Southeast Asia, Japan, Hawaii, Canada, the United States, and Europe all became familiar during his endless quest. (Damon)
The revolutionary movement in China grew stronger and stronger. Tung Meng Hui members staged many armed uprisings, culminating in the October 10, 1911 Wuhan (Wuchang) Uprising which succeeded in overthrowing the Manchu dynasty and established the Republic of China.
That date is now celebrated annually as the Republic of China’s national day, also known as the “Double Ten Day”. On December 29, 1911, Sun Yat-sen was elected president and on January 1, 1912, he was officially inaugurated. After Sun’s death on March 12, 1925, Chiang Kai-shek became the leader of the Kuomintang (KMT.)
The Republic of China governed mainland China until 1949; in that year, during the Chinese Civil War, the communists captured Beijing and later Nanjing. The communist-party-led People’s Republic of China was proclaimed on October 1, 1949.
Originally based in mainland China, Chiang Kai-shek and a few hundred thousand Republic of China troops and two million refugees, fled from mainland China to Taiwan (formerly known as “Formosa.”)
On December 7, 1949 Chiang proclaimed Taipei, Taiwan, the temporary capital of the Republic of China and it now governs the island of Taiwan. Sun Yat-sen is one of the few Chinese revolutionary figures revered in both the People’s Republic of China (mainland) and Republic of China (Taiwan.)
Hawaiʻi and its people played an important role in the life of Sun Yat-sen as well as in his revolutionary activities. His first revolutionary organization was formed in Hawaiʻi, it developed into the political party directly responsible for the collapse of the Manchus.
Another Hawaiʻi tie for Sun relates to the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 that blocked Chinese travel to the US.
In March 1904, while residing in Kula, Maui, Sun Yat-sen obtained a Certificate of Hawaiian Birth, issued by the Territory of Hawaiʻi, stating that “he was born in the Hawaiian Islands on the 24th day of November, A.D. 1870.”
He used it to travel to the continent; then, when it was no longer needed, he renounced it.
Sun Yat-sen apparently felt at home in Hawaiʻi. “This is my Hawai‘i … here I was brought up and educated, and it was here that I came to know what modern, civilized governments are like and what they mean.” (Sun Yat-sen, 1910)