Opium Wars

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Opium Wars
Second Opium War-guangzhou.jpg
Combat at Guangzhou (Canton) during the Second Opium War
Date 1839–1842, 1856–1860
Location Southern China, including Canton (present-day Guangzhou) and Hong Kong
Result Victory of the Western powers over China. It ended in the Treaty of Nanjing and the Treaty of Tianjin
Hong Kong Island and southern Kowloon ceded to the United Kingdom
United Kingdom United Kingdom
France France

United States United States (1856 and 1859 only)

Qing Dynasty
Commanders and leaders
United Kingdom Michael Seymour
United Kingdom James Bruce
France Jean-Baptiste Louis Gros
France Auguste Léopold Protet

United States James Armstrong

Daoguang Emperor
Xianfeng Emperor
Lin Zexu
Sengge Rinchen
~40,000 troops,
American: 287 troops,
3 warships
~110,000 troops
Casualties and losses
over 2,800 killed or wounded 47,790 killed or wounded

The Opium Wars were two wars between China and Western countries. The first was between Great Britain and China and lasted from 1839 until 1842. The Second Opium War was from 1856 to 1860.[1] The Second Opium War was also known as the Arrow War or Anglo-French War in China.[2] French soldiers also took a big part in this war. Early in the 19th century, British merchants began secretly taking opium into China. They wanted to balance their purchases of tea for export to Britain. In 1839, China said that opium was not allowed.[3] In Canton in south China, which is now called Guangzhou, the Chinese destroyed a lot of opium that they had taken from British merchants.[3] Great Britain was unhappy about this and sent gunboats to attack Chinese coastal cities. China had no modern weapons so they were defeated.[3] China was forced to sign the Treaty of Nanjing with the British and another one called the Supplementary Treaty of the Bogue.[3]

The wars were about many other things than opium. They were also about opening China to European and American trade and colonizations.

Beginning of the opium trade[change | change source]

British merchants began selling opium to China. At that time, opium was grown in India.[4] Opium is an addictive drug. It is sometimes used to treat disease. However, opium can also be used as a drug that changes the user's state of mind. Opium had been used in China for a long time before the British came, mostly to treat disease. When the British began importing large amounts of the drug, the Chinese began using opium for its mind-changing effect.[4] More and more people grew addicted to opium. So, the British were able to export more and more opium. By selling this drug, the British slowly began to make more money on their exports to China than they spent on their imports of Chinese goods.[4] British exports of opium to China increased greatly. They went from an estimated 15 tons in 1730, to 75 tons in 1773.[4] Opium was shipped in "chests". Every chest had 140 pounds (67 kilograms) of opium inside.[4]

Opium is a naturally occurring substance found in the seeds of the opium poppy. Opium, which contains morphine, is extracted from the poppy seeds and used to produce heroin. Heroin is an illegal, highly addictive drug and its use is a serious problem in America and other countries. It is both the most abused and the most rapidly acting of the opiates.

Main Battles[change | change source]

References[change | change source]

  1. Hanes, William Travis; Frank Sanello (2002). Opium Wars: The Addiction of One Empire and the Corruption of Another. pp. 3.
  2. "Opium Wars (Chinese history) -- Britannica Online Encyclopedia". britannica.com. http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/430163/Opium-Wars. Retrieved 20 April 2010.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 "Opium Wars — FactMonster.com". factmonster.com. http://www.factmonster.com/ce6/history/A0836734.html. Retrieved 20 April 2010.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 Koontz, Terri; Mark Sidwell, S.M.Bunker. World Studies. Greenville, South Carolina 29614: Bob Jones University Press. ISBN 1-59166-431-4 .