Over the twenty-five years of the program, the Boxer Scholarship had become one of the most prestigious awards in China. As one recipient put it, winning this scholarship was more impressive "than [winning] a Marshall, Rhodes, and Fullbright scholarship put together" in the United States. This was so, despite the fact that the Boxer Rebellion Indemnity Scholarship program, as it was officially named, had been conceived in violence and born in an atmosphere of mutual suspicion between China and the United States.
The Boxers were a motley collection of some of the most disenfranchised members of Chinese society, including army deserters, prostitutes, and criminals. In a year of terrible floods in the northwestern province of Shandong and intensified foreign expansion in China by many of the same foreign powers that had earlier sought trading rights and concessions at Chinese ports during the Opium War, gangs of Chinese, calling themselves the Boxers United in Righteousness, began to attack foreign missionaries in Shandong.
The movement gained momentum as the Boxers recruited peasants from a famine-stricken countryside. Practicing secret martial arts rituals, they convinced