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Phan Boi Chau (1867–1940)

Justin Corfield


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One of the major figures in the Vietnamese anti-colonial and nationalist struggle, Phan Boi Chau was born on December 26, 1867, in a village in the north-central province of Nghe An. His father was from a family of scholars who had long since fallen on hard times, and Phan Boi Chau was brought up in some poverty. However, his father was able to teach him the Confucian ethics and the Analects. As a boy, Phan Boi Chau saw the emergence of French colonial control that compelled the Vietnamese emperor, Tu Duc, to sign a treaty supporting their commercial concession. He watched the defeat of the Can Vuong movement against the French, with the emperor, Ham Nghi, forced to flee the Imperial Palace and settle in Nghe An. Phan Boi Chau met him there and became active in the fight against the French. With the French sending soldiers into the region, Phan Boi Chau decided to sink into obscurity and try to look after his aging father. However, he continued his studies and, in 1900, passed the examinations to become a government employee. Four years later he formed the Vietnam Duy Tan Hoi (Vietnam Modernization Association) and became its general secretary, with another nationalist, Cuong De, as president. Seeing the great hope for the anti-colonial struggle in Tokyo, Phan Boi Chau went there to seek help in fighting the French. Phan was also keen to start training Vietnamese in the revolutionary ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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