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The First Opium War - The Chinese Expedition 1840-1842 - The Illustrated Edition

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The First Opium War - The Chinese Expedition 1840-1842 - The Illustrated Edition


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The first Anglo-Chinese War of 1839-1842 was fought essentially over trade restrictions between the British Empire and the Qing Dynasty. European traders were only permitted to sell though a cartel of Chinese merchants known as the Thirteen Hongs, and were not allowed to travel, live or trade in any other part of China apart from the Thirteen Factories in Canton. Due to the ever-growing demands of the home market for tea, and China’s insistence on payment in silver, a trade imbalance in China’s favour developed, and so the British, via the East India Company, began to trade in opium. Initially the Chinese authorities tolerated this, but in 1839, the new governor of Canton seized all the opium, banned its sale under threat of death, and closed the channel to Canton, effectively holding the British traders hostage.

The resulting retaliation from the British was somewhat delayed, but in April 1840 the Chinese Expedition, a force of 3000 soldiers and a small naval force arrived in Singapore. After decisively defeating the Chinese in the summer 1842, the war finally ended with the signing of the Treaty of Nanking and the ceding of Hong Kong to the British Crown.

Fully illustrated throughout with contemporary paintings, engravings and maps, this authoritative eye-witness account of the First Opium War was written by Duncan McPherson, a surgeon with the 37th Madras Native Infantry. Highly readable, McPherson’s vivid descriptions of China and its people, and his detailed accounts of the battles give a unique perspective to the conflict. Also included is an in-depth appendix featuring the official battle reports, general orders, circulars, notifications and returns of the dead and wounded.

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