Stretching the Qing Bureaucracy in the 1826 Sea-Transport Experiment


In a new study of the Qing government’s 1826 experiment in sea transport of government grain in response to the collapse of the Grand Canal (1825), Jane Kate Leonard highlights how the Daoguang Emperor, together with Yinghe, his chief fiscal adviser, and Qishan, Governor-General of Liangjiang, devised and implemented this innovative plan by temporarily stretching the Qing bureaucracy to include local “assistant” officials and ad hoc bureaus ( ju) and by recruiting ( zhaoshang) private organizations, such as merchant shippers, dockside porters, and lighterage fleets. This is significant because it explains how the Qing leadership was able to respond successfully to crises and change without permanently expanding the reach and expense of the permanent bureaucracy.

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Jane Kate Leonard (Ph.D. Cornell University, 1971) is professor emerita of history (University of Akron). She has published monographs on early nineteenth-century Chinese thought and institutions, including Wei Yuan and China’s Rediscovery of the Maritime World (Harvard East Asian Studies, 1984); “Controlling from Afar.” The Daoguang Emperor’s Management of the Grand Canal Crisis, 1824–1826 (Ann Arbor; Center for Chinese Studies, University of Michigan, 1996).
List of Illustrations
Sea Transport Chronology

Introduction: The Challenge of Innovation. The 1826 Sea-Transport Experiment
 1 The 1825 Grand Canal Crisis
 2 Tricks of the Trade

1 Linqing and Grand Canal Conditions in Northern Jiangsu
 1 Junction Conservancy Work, 1737–1765
 2 Protecting the Junction, 1770–1784
 3 Last Ditch Efforts to Shield the Junction, 1796–1826
 4 Qishan and the Pound Lock, 1827
 5 Conclusions

2 Imagination at the Center: The Daoguang Emperor and Yinghe
 1 The Daoguang Emperor Launches the Sea-Transport Initiative
 2 Yinghe (1771–1839): Principal Architect of the Sea-Transport Plan
 3 Yinghe’s First Memorial on the Comprehensive Grain-Transport Plan
 4 The Significance of Yinghe’s First Memorial

3 The Deepening Crisis and Yinghe’s Second Memorial
 1 The Emperor’s Response
 2 The Deepening Crisis at the Junction
 3 Intensification of Imperial Crisis Management and Yinghe’s Second Memorial
 4 The Challenge of Commutation
 5 Conclusions

4 Qishan and Disaster Assessment in Jiangsu
 1 Qishan’s Mission
 2 Investigation in the Sixth Month (5.6.1–5.6.22)
 3 Qishan’s Assessment of the “General Situation”
 4 Qishan’s Approach to Sea Transport
 5 Conclusions

5 Stretching the Bureaucracy for Sea Transport
 1 Administrative Obstacles to the Sea-Transport Experiment
 2 Obstacles to Recruitment
 3 Qishan and the ad hoc Planning Cadre
 4 Tao Zhu’s Special Mission to Shanghai
 5 Xiong Yutai’s Advice on Recruitment
 6 Conclusions

6 Sea-Transport Regulations and Coastal Defense
 1 Sea-Transport Regulations
 2 Coastal Defense
 3 Redrawing the Northeast Coastal Map
 4 The Route
 5 Conclusions

7 Nayancheng and Regulations for Zhili
 1 Governor-General Nayancheng
 2 Yinghe and the First Board of Revenue Memorial
 3 Nayancheng and Zhili Grain-Management Realities
 4 Lighterage
 5 Storage Logistics
 6 The Performance of Low-Level Grain-Handing Tasks in Zhili
 7 Calculating the Costs Down to the Last 1/100,000th of a Tael
 8 Conclusions

8 Bai Chun and Low-Level Grain Transfers and Storage in Zhili
 1 The Role of Sub- and Extra-Bureaucratic Granary Personnel
 2 Grain Brokerage
 3 Brokers and the Inspection of Steamy Rice ( zhengzhao)
 4 The Broker’s Role in Grain Transfers
 5 The Broker’s Role in Escorting Lighterage Fleets
 6 Cart Haulage from Tongzhou to the Beijing Granaries
 7 Essential Equipment for Grain Transfers
 8 Terms, Conditions, and Pay for Lighterage Boatmen
 9 Loose Ends
 10 Conclusions


Readers interested in the Qing dynasty; Qing thought and institutions, comparative empires, early nineteenth-century China.