Crusaders against Opium: Protestant Missionaries in China, 1874-1917

Article excerpt

Crusaders Against Opium: Protestant Missionaries in China, 187 1917.

By Kathleen L. Lodwick. Lexington: Univ. Press of Kentucky, 1996. Pp. xi, 218. $29.95. The export of opium from British India to China, forced on China under military duress in the mid-nineteenth century, became a great obstacle to Christian missionary work in the country, both because all foreigners were tainted in Chinese eyes by association with the iniquitous trade, and because opium addicts-who numbered in the millions-were put effectively out of reach of conversion by the habit. It is not surprising, therefore, that missionaries became active in agitating against British involvement in the opium trade. In this book, Kathleen Lodwick, professor of history at Pennsylvania State University, traces the development of opposition to the trade, first among the missionary body in China, then among churchmen in Britain. Medical missionaries in China played a particularly crucial role by accumulating the first systematic medical evidence on the damaging effects of drug addiction. In Britain the Society for the Suppression of the Opium Trade, founded in 1874 and made up chiefly of members of the nonconformist churches, worked with China missionaries to publicize the facts about Britain's role in the opium trade and the harm wrought by it in China.

As Lodwick shows, however, the opium trade was supported by powerful interests in Britain, in India, and among nonmissionary foreigners in China. …


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