On This Day
1645 – Yangzhou massacre: The ten day massacre of 800,000 residents of the city of Yangzhou, part of the Transition from Ming to Qing.
The Yangzhou massacre took place in May, 1645 in Yangzhou, China, during the Qing dynasty. Mass killings of residents in Yangzhou were conducted by Qing troops under the command of Prince Dodo , after they conquered the city’s defending forces which were loyal to the Southern Ming regime of the Hongguang Emperor.
The massacre is described in a contemporary account, A Record of Ten Days in Yangzhou, by Wang Xiuchu . Due to the title of the account, the events are often referred to as a ten-day massacre, but the diary shows that the slaughter was over by the sixth day,when burial of bodies commenced. According to Wang, the number of victims exceeded 800,000, that number is now considered an exaggeration. The defending commander, Shi Kefa, was also executed by Qing forces after he refused to submit to their authority.
The alleged reasons for the massacre were:
To punish the residents because of resistance efforts led by the Ming official Shi Kefa.
To warn the rest of the population in Jiangnan of the consequences of resisting the invaders.
Wang Xiuchu’s account has appeared in a number of English translations, including by Backhouse and Bland, Lucien Mao, and Lynn A. Struve. Following are excerpts from the account in the translation by Struve .
Several dozen people were herded like sheep or goats. Any who lagged were flogged or killed outright. The women were bound together at the necks with a heavy rope—strung one to another like pearls. Stumbling with each step, they were covered with mud. Babies lay everywhere on the ground. The organs of those trampled like turf under horses’ hooves or people’s feet were smeared in the dirt, and the crying of those still alive filled the whole outdoors. Every gutter or pond we passed was stacked with corpses, pillowing each others arms and legs. Their blood had flowed into the water, and the combination of green and red was producing a spectrum of colours. The canals, too, had been filled to level with dead bodies.
Then fires started everywhere, and the thatched houses…caught fire and were soon engulfed in flames…Those who had hidden themselves beneath the houses were forced to rush out from the heat of the fire, and as soon as they came out, in nine cases out of ten, they were put to death on the spot. On the other hand, those who had stayed in the houses—were burned to death within the closely shuttered doors and no one could tell how many had died from the pile of charred bones that remained afterwards.
Books written about the massacres in Yangzhou, Jiading and Jiangyin were later republished by anti-Qing authors to win support in the leadup to the 1911 Xinhai Revolution.
Born On This Day
1825 – Antoinette Brown Blackwell, the first woman to be ordained as a mainstream Protestant minister in the U.S. (d. 1921)
Antoinette Louisa Brown, later Antoinette Brown Blackwell (May 20, 1825 – November 5, 1921), was the first woman to be ordained as a mainstream Protestant minister in the United States. She was a well-versed public speaker on the paramount issues of her time, and distinguished herself from her contemporaries with her use of religious faith in her efforts to expand women’s rights.
Brown was born the youngest of seven in Henrietta, New York, to Joseph Brown and Abby Morse. Brown was recognized as highly intelligent as early as three years old. The preaching of evangelist Charles Grandison Finney from nearby Rochester led Brown’s family to join the Congregational Church. After daring to inject a prayer into her family’s religious observance, Brown was accepted into the church before the age of nine. Shortly after becoming a member of the congregation, she began to preach during Sunday meetings. In 1841 at the age of 16, after completing her requisite early schooling at Monroe County Academy, Brown taught school herself. She did not intend to spend her life teaching and so she set her sights on a degree in theology from Oberlin College and a career in the pulpit.
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