Concurrent Challenges: Military and Diplomatic Connections between the U.S Civil War and Taiping Rebellion

Date of Award

Spring 3-1-2017

Document Type

Undergraduate Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of arts (BA)


Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences

First Advisor

Michael Allen

Second Advisor

Mary Hanneman


Despite the vast research done on the topic of U.S Civil War, and extensive studies on the Taiping Rebellion in China, little is known about the international connections between these two devastating conflicts. When the U.S Civil war was fought from 1861-1865, the calamitous Taiping Rebellion in China also entered its brutal final years. These two civil wars are both the result of severe internal divisions, are similar in military strategies, international engagements and diplomatic interactions. This study focuses on both the military and diplomatic history during wartime: the first part of military history will explore how the wars are fought from 1861-1865, through a few major battles and important figures in the wars; the second part will mainly focus on two Americans, Anson Burlingame and Ulysses Grant, who both actively engaged in the effort of improving Sino-U.S relations. Using primary accounts and government documents from both governments, the analysis and comparison of these two civil wars yield the conclusion that these wars were seen as concurrent challenges by both countries, and they became a shared experience of devastation between China and the U.S, while the viable diplomacies on both sides created a solidarity that helped America and China to establish cordial relations and closer ties.

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