The Changsha Uprising
The news of the Wuchang uprising had an electrifying effect in Hunan, where revolutionary activists had long planned to coordinate their own efforts with those of their Hubei neighbors. Excited students abandoned their classes to await further news from Hubei, while in army camps the events in Wuchang became the dominant topic of conversation. Aware of the widespread revolutionary sentiments in his province, Hunan's governor, Yu Chengge, turned to Huang Zhonghao, a prominent member of the Hunan gentry, to take command of Hunan's Patrol and Defense Forces and organize defenses against a revolutionary outbreak. Realizing that the New Army was the greatest source of danger, Huang advised its removal from Changsha. Over half of the New Army was quickly redeployed to outlying counties, while the remainder was restricted to camps outside the city's walls. Patrol and Defense forces, which Huang knew were less influenced by revolutionary thought, were then called in to take over the defense of the provincial capital. These actions, however, only served to intensify revolutionary determination to act before the revolutionary strength of the New Army had dissipated.
Events in Hunan after the Wuchang uprising give ample evidence of the emerging prorevolutionary coalition of civilian and military elites. As soon as the news of the Wuchang revolt reached Changsha, a number of secret meetings were held to discuss plans for a revolutionary response that included not only revolutionary leaders and New Army activists but also progressive members of the Provincial Assembly and other elite groups. Soon even Tan Yankai, the president of the Provincial Assembly, who was Hunan's most prominent constitutionalist leader, had secretly expressed his support for a "civilized revolution" (wenming geming ). When Governor Yu planned a roundup of suspected revolutionary activists, Tan intervened to prevent it, convincing Yu that the suspects presented no real danger. Tan and other prominent members of Changsha's gentry even tried, unsuccessfully as it turned out, to persuade Huang Zhonghao to assume military leadership of a proposed revolutionary regime. That these men felt they could approach Huang without fear of reprisal reveals the dilemma faced by loyalist officials in the rising tide of revolutionary sentiment. Any suppression of the revolutionary movement would have had to include action against a significant segment of Hunan's top civilian elite. The lack of will to take this step only served to strengthen the revolutionary position.
Although widespread elite support set the stage for the revolution in Changsha, a New Army uprising again initiated it. As in Hubei, the initial risk of the uprising was primarily born by common soldiers and a few petty officers organized through preexisting revolutionary networks. On the morning of October 22, revolutionary representatives in New Army units camped outside Changsha assembled their comrades for an assault on the city. The rebels met no opposition from the New Army's officer corps. Before the uprising, most officers deliberately ignored the growing revolutionary discussion in their units. On the day of the uprising, a good number of upper- and middle-echelon officers were absent, either on assignment to observe military maneuvers in northern China or on weekend leaves. Once the uprising got under way, most New Army officers still on duty managed to stay out of the way, while a few were persuaded to join the revolt. The only potential opposition came from the Patrol and Defense Forces now guarding the city's walls. As it turned out, support for the revolution had already grown so strong that these soldiers agreed to open the city's gates without a fight. New Army soldiers quickly took possession of the city, and the governor himself met the rebels to acknowledge the revolution before abandoning his post. In the end, the only
men who lost their lives in the Changsha uprising were Huang Zhonghao, the Changsha magistrate, and a few other officials who refused to accept the new order.
A broad consensus helped ensure the quick victory of the Changsha uprising, but the revolutionaries and their allies were less united over the question of who should lead the new government. As in Hubei, revolutionary leaders, military representatives, and prominent members of the civilian elite met at the Provincial Assembly immediately after the success of the uprising. Unlike in Hubei, however, no high-ranking military officer was available who could be persuaded to assume the post of military governor. In at least some quarters there was an expectation that Tan Yankai would assume leadership of the new government. Instead, however, the Forward Together Society leader Jiao Dafeng rose to claim the military governorship as his own. In making this claim, Jiao pointed to his long record of revolutionary organizing, notwithstanding that he had been chiefly active in Hunan's secret societies and not in the military. As a founding member of the Forward Together Society who had worked to coordinate revolutionary activities in Hunan and Hubei, Jiao also had the advantage of close contacts with Hubei's revolutionary leaders. Finally, as a Tongmenghui member, Jiao claimed to have been deputed by Sun Yat-sen to assume the military governorship. Tan Yankai then rose and agreed to yield the position. Echoing the sentiments expressed by Tang Hualong in Hubei, Tan stated that as a civilian he did not have the military abilities needed to assume leadership of the revolution. Jiao's boldness therefore won the day, and the assembly accepted his claim. On Jiao's recommendation, Chen Zuoxin was awarded the post of vice military governor in recognition of his revolutionary leadership in the New Army. Following Hubei's example, Tan Yankai was then nominated to take charge of the province's civil administration.
Although Jiao and Chen both had impeccable revolutionary credentials, neither man had sufficient status to ensure enthusiastic support from the broader Hunan elite. Jiao in particular was barely known outside revolutionary circles, and his assumption of power seemed more than a little presumptuous. Not surprisingly, many felt that the twenty-five-year-old was too inexperienced to hold a post of such responsibility, and his style of government also did little to inspire elite confidence. Jiao was something of a "common man's military governor," and his headquarters was open to all and often filled with large, raucous crowds. There were also complaints about Jiao's carelessness in making appointments—for example, in allowing some
office-seekers to decide their own titles and duties. Even sympathetic revolutionaries were troubled by the disorderly appearance of Jiao's administration, and his opponents were convinced that Hunan under Jiao was heading for anarchy. The most serious objection to Jiao's rule centered on his secret-society affiliation. After taking office, Jiao's main concern was to provide military assistance to the revolutionary front in Hubei. Given his past revolutionary work, he naturally turned to the secret societies as a recruiting base for an expanded revolutionary army. Soon large numbers of secret-society members began to arrive in Changsha in answer to Jiao's call. For much of Hunan's elite, Jiao's secret-society connections represented a serious challenge to the existing social order.
Joseph Esherick has shown how concerns over Jiao Dafeng's military governorship touched upon the central dilemma faced by progressive elites in their support of the 1911 Revolution. On the one hand, the revolution offered the elite a chance to increase its own influence in local and provincial government, both in its own interests and to "carry out its plans for elite, Westernizing reform with no further fear of frustration by Peking." On the other hand, revolution, especially when involving secret societies, raised the specter of social disorder that might threaten the bases of elite power. Esherick suggests that the concern of the elite to maintain their social and political control in the face of this danger helped consolidate elite support for the revolution once it seemed inevitable. In Hunan, Jiao's close ties to secret societies seemed to raise the possibility that the revolution might yet undermine, rather than uphold, elite power.
Elite concerns over the course of the revolution under Jiao's rule were first manifested in an institutional challenge to his authority as military governor. The day after Jiao's election, a provisional representative assembly, or "senate" (canyiyuan ), was established at Tan Yankai's urging. The membership of this senate was based on a list of nominees also drawn up by Tan. Most were members of the old Provincial Assembly, with the addition of other politically active members of the civilian elite, including a few revolutionaries. Not unexpectedly, this body elected Tan Yankai as its first president. In a hurriedly drafted charter, the senate claimed ultimate jurisdiction over the entire government, including the military governor. This alarmed some revolutionaries, who feared that restrictions on the military governor's power might hinder his ability to deploy military forces and supplies for the revolutionary front. Therefore, on October 30 a revolutionary-dominated meeting abolished the senate and reconcentrated all mili-
tary and civil authority under the military governor. Yielding to this decision, Tan Yankai resigned from his posts both as president of the senate and head of civil administration.
Even as this first challenge to Jiao's authority was being settled, a conspiracy was forming that was willing to take more drastic steps to ensure Jiao's removal. The participants in this conspiracy included prominent members of the civilian elite as well as a number of New Army officers. In the end, New Army participation ensured the plot's success. On October 31 one of these New Army conspirators, a Japanese-educated regiment commander named Mei Xing, sent his troops to assassinate both Jiao Dafeng and Chen Zuoxin. This decisive action ended Jiao Dafeng's ten-day rule as Hunan's first military governor and placed the Hunan revolution firmly in elite hands.
New Army participation in the coup against Jiao reflected a division within the New Army over Jiao's military governorship. Revolutionary representatives in the New Army who had met Jiao before the uprising had bowed to his revolutionary experience and credentials and accepted his leadership. In the wake of the uprising, Jiao had extravagantly promised military promotions to all those who had participated in it, including officerships for all New Army soldiers. These soldiers became Jiao's main base of support within the New Army. Fewer promotions, however, were given to the soldiers and officers of units who had been sent away from Changsha before the uprising. This became a cause of resentment among these units after their return to the city. Mei Xing's regiment was one of these units, and Mei himself had failed in his efforts to obtain a brigade commander's commission. Many men in the New Army also shared the general elite concern about Jiao's plans to raise a secret-society army. Mei Xing himself had pleaded with Jiao to reconsider this policy. Finally, as recruitment of this army began, Jiao's opponents spread rumors that he intended to disband the New Army to make room for his secret-society followers. Thus the corporate survival interests of the New Army, and the career interests of some of its members, combined to create New Army opposition to Jiao. The anti-Jiao conspirators' opportunity finally came when an expeditionary force made up of the New Army troops most committed to the revolution departed Changsha for the Hubei front on October 27. Four days later, Mei Xing sent his troops to eliminate the secret-society "bandit" he claimed had taken control of the Hunan government.
It is noteworthy that the New Army coup against Jiao did not result in his replacement by a military officer. After Jiao's death, Mei's troops did first call upon him to become military governor. The suc-
cession of a military man to what was, after all, a military post could certainly have been justified. What occurred instead, however, was a remarkable deference to civilian leadership. First Mei himself firmly refused to accept the military governorship. Then Yu Qinyi, another Japanese-educated regimental commander, whom Jiao had raised to division commander, suggested to the assembled troops that Tan Yankai was the candidate best suited for the post. "If the man we nominate today as military governor does not have [appropriate] qualifications and prestige, he will not be able to conciliate the people," Yu argued. "Since Mei Xing won't accept the military governorship, then none of us military men can do so. Therefore, in my opinion, there would be nothing better than to nominate a civilian administrator such as the president of the Provincial Assembly, Tan Yankai." Soldiers were then sent to Tan's home to bring him before the assembled troops. On Tan's arrival, the soldiers expressed their support for Tan's assumption of the military governorship by acclamation. After some modest protestation, Tan conceded to their will. So, with military support, the post of military governor was placed in civilian hands. This, more than anything else, shows that although the military power of the New Army had been essential for the success of the revolutionary uprisings, the military's role in the 1911 Revolution was less as an autonomous force than as one component of a broader elite coalition.
Finally, it might be noted that Tan's assumption of the military governorship may have helped to lessen military threats to the new regime from within Hunan. In general, military support for the revolution in Hunan followed the pattern seen in Hubei. New Army troops sent out from Changsha before the uprising helped to spread the revolution in some areas, the most important case being the riverport city of Yuezhou. Old-style forces more generally opposed the revolution. Thus, several loyalist officials in western Hunan used Green Standard troops as an anti-revolutionary base, before finally accepting the revolution in mid December. The greatest threat to the uprising came from a number of Patrol and Defense commanders outside Changsha who initially opposed the revolution. However, they ceased their resistance once news reached them of Tan Yankai's succession to the military governor's post.