THE STRUGGLE FOR POWER: 1840-1949
The Chinese domestic revolutionary period begins with the historic Taiping Rebellion, which, mobilizing peasant discontent, began in 1848, reached a military peak which threatened the dynasty late in 1853, and lapsed back to its base around Nanking to disintegrate in 1864. Its history reveals clearly the multiple pressures confronting the Manchu regime in the mid-nineteenth century. It underlines the fact that, in addition to the pressures exerted on China by Britain and the other Western powers, the regime faced important internal problems.
A long period of peace had united with the introduction of highyield new crops (kaoliang, corn, sweet potatoes, and peanuts) to produce a sharp rise in population which apparently started toward the end of the seventeenth century. It is estimated that per capita acreage (measured in mou) declined as follows:1*
Although there was some expansion of cultivated land over this period, according to these estimates the population rose from about 112 million in 1685 to 300 million in 1872. Since Chinese agricultural society was not based on primogeniture, this increase in population (as, for example, in Ireland over the same period) led to the progressive parceling of land. There is substantial evidence of a fall in the peasant's standard of living and an increase in his consciousness of misery. The progressive pressure of population on the land was one____________________