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emblemAmongst the Chinese emigrants in America I found an even more sleepy atmosphere then in the Philippines. I crossed the continent from San-Francisco to New York. On my way I stopped at various places for a few days—for ten days at the most—everywhere preaching that to save our mother-country from threatening destruction we must overthrow the Tai-Tsing dynasty, and that the duty of every Chinese citizen was to help to reconstruct China on a new democratic basis.
Although I spared no effort in this propaganda, the people to whom it was directed remained apathetic and little responsive to the ideas of the Chinese Revolution. At that time, however there were fairly widespread amongst the Chinese emigrants the so-called " Hung-Men " societies, although by my time they had been reduced to little more than mutual aid clubs. Their history is as follows. The supporters of the Ming dynasty raised several rebellions against the Tai-Tsing dynasty, but always suffered defeat at the hands of the Imperial troops, and when, during the rule of Kan-Si, the Manchu dynasty reached the height of its strength, all the efforts of the supporters of the Ming dynasty proved to be doomed to failure. Some of them paid for their audacity with their lives, others managed to escape. Seeing the impossibility of overthrowing the Tai-Tsings, they seized then on the idea of nationalism and began preaching it, handing it down from generation to generation. Their main object in organising the " Hung-Men " societies was the overthrow of the Tai-Tsing dynasty and the restoration of the Ming dynasty. The idea of nationalism was for them an auxiliary. They carried on all their affairs in profound secret, avoiding Government officials and hiding also from the Chinese intellectuals, whom they looked upon as the eyes and ears of the Chinese Government. Knowing the psychology of the masses, the " Hung-Men " societies spread their nationalist ideas by means of various plays, which had a great effect amongst the people. In the ideas they spread abroad, everything was based on arousing discontent with one's position and with existing inequality, and preaching the necessity for revenge. Their passwords and watchwords were dirty and vulgar phrases, and Chinese intellectuals avoided them in disgust.
Party solidarity, which afforded them help when in trouble, and a certain co-ordination in their activities, proved very helpful for wanderers and for various Chinese prodigal sons. Their nationalist ideas helped them in their struggle against the hated Tai-Tsing dynasty, and consequently fed their hopes of a restoration of the Ming dynasty.
The Chinese people were in constant conflict with the Imperial officials, and never abandoned their opposition to the Tsing dynasty. The watchwords: " Down with Tsing ! " and "' Long live Ming ! " were near and dear to many Chinese. But the same cannot be said of our overseas emigrants, as they, being abroad in a free country, had no necessity to organise societies of a fighting character. Therefore in America the " Hung-Men " societies naturally lost their political colour, and became benefit clubs. Many members of the " Hung-Men " societies did not rightly understand the meaning and exact aims which their society pursued. When I approached them, during my stay in America, and asked them, why did they want to overthrow the Tsing dynasty and restore the Ming dynasty, very many were not able to give me any positive reply. Later, when our comrades had carried on a protracted revolutionary propaganda in America for several years, members of the " Hung-Men " societies at last realised they were old nationalist revolutionaries.
Although my stay in America was of little importance for the further destinies of the Chinese Revolution, it nevertheless aroused fears and misgivings on the part of the Imperial Government.

Memoirs of a Chinese Revolutionary, A Programme of National reconstruction for China by Sun-Yat-Sen with a frontispiece portrait of the author. New York : Ams Press, 1970, reprinted from the edition of 1927, London. SBN : 404-06305-5. hc 254 pp. pp. 190-192.


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