Sun Yat-sen was born to Sun Dacheng (孫達成) and his wife, lady Yang (楊氏) on 12 November 1866. At the time his father was age 53, while his mother was 38 years old. He had an older brother, Sun Dezhang (孫德彰), and an older sister, Sun Jinxing (孫金星), who died at the early age of 4. Another older brother, Sun Deyou (孫德祐), died at the age of 6. He also had an older sister, Sun Miaoqian (孫妙茜), and a younger sister, Sun Qiuqi (孫秋綺).
At the age of 10, Sun Yat-sen began seeking schooling. It is also at this point where he met childhood friend Lu Haodong. By age 13 in 1878 after receiving a few years of local schooling, Sun went to live with his elder brother, Sun Mei (孫眉) in Honolulu. Sun Mei financed Sun Yat-sen's education and would later be a major contributor for the overthrow of the Manchus.
A "Heaven and Earth Society" sect known as Tiandihui had been around for a long time. The group has also been referred to as the "three cooperating organizations" as well as the triads. Sun Yat-sen mainly used this group to leverage his overseas travels to gain further financial and resource support for his revolution. According to the New York Times "Sun Yat-sen left his village in Guangdong, southern China, in 1879 to join a brother in Hawaii. He eventually returned to China and from there moved to the British colony of Hong Kong in 1883. It was there that he received his Western education, his Christian faith and the money for revolution." This is where Sun Yat-sen realized that China needed to change its ways. He knew that the only way that China would change and modernize would be to overthrow the Qing Dynasty.
In the early 1880s, Sun Mei sent his brother to ʻIolani School, which was under the supervision of British Anglicans and directed by an Anglican prelate named Alfred Willis. The language of instruction was English. Although Bishop Willis emphasized that no one was forced to accept Christianity, the students were required to attend chapel on Sunday. At Iolani School, young Sun Wen first came in contact with Christianity, and it made a deep impression on him. Schriffin writes that Christianity was to have a great influence on Sun's whole Future political life.
According to Lee Yun-ping, chairman of the Chinese historical society, Sun needed a certificate to enter the United States at a time when the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 would have otherwise blocked him. However, on Sun's first attempt to enter the US, he was still arrested. He was later bailed out after 17 days. In March 1904, while residing in Kula, Maui, Sun Yat-sen obtained a Certificate of Hawaiian Birth, issued by the Territory of Hawaii, stating that "he was born in the Hawaiian Islands on the 24th day of November, A.D. 1870." He renounced it after it served its purpose to circumvent the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882. Official files of the United States show that Sun had United States nationality, moved to China with his family at age 4, and returned to Hawaii 10 years later.
When he returned to China in 1883 at age 17, Sun met up with his childhood friend Lu Haodong again at Beijidian (北極殿), a temple in Cuiheng Village. They saw many villagers worshipping the Beiji (literally North Pole) Emperor-God in the temple, and were dissatisfied with their ancient healing methods. They broke the statue, incurring the wrath of fellow villagers, and escaped to Hong Kong. While in Hong Kong in 1883 he studied at the Diocesan Boys' School, and from 1884 to 1886 he was at The Government Central School.
Sun was later baptized in Hong Kong (on May 4, 1884) by Rev. C. R. Hager an American missionary of the Congregational Church of the United States (ABCFM) to his brother's disdain. The minister would also develop a friendship with Sun. Sun attended To Tsai Church (道濟會堂), founded by the London Missionary Society in 1888, while he studied Western Medicine in Hong Kong College of Medicine for Chinese. Sun pictured a revolution as similar to the salvation mission of the Christian church. His conversion to Christianity was related to his revolutionary ideals and push for advancement.
In 1886 Sun studied Medicine at the Guangzhou Boji Hospital under the Christian missionary John G. Kerr. Ultimately, he earned the license of Christian practice as a medical Doctor from the Hong Kong College of Medicine for Chinese (the forerunner of The University of Hong Kong) in 1892. Notably, of his class of 12 students, Sun was one of only two who graduated.
During the Qing Dynasty rebellion around 1888, Sun was in Hong Kong with a group of revolutionary thinkers who were nicknamed the Four Bandits at the Hong Kong College of Medicine for Chinese. Sun, who had grown increasingly frustrated by the conservative Qing government and its refusal to adopt knowledge from the more technologically advanced Western nations, quit his medical practice in order to devote his time to transforming China.
In 1891, Sun met revolutionary friends in Hong Kong including Yeung Ku-wan who was the leader and founder of the Furen Literary Society. The group was spreading the idea of overthrowing the Qing. In 1894, Sun wrote an 8,000 character petition to Qing Viceroy Li Hongzhang presenting his ideas for modernizing China. He traveled to Tianjin to personally present the petition to Li but was not granted an audience. After this experience, Sun turned irrevocably toward revolution. He left China for Hawaii and founded the Revive China Society, which was committed to revolutionizing China's prosperity. Members were drawn mainly from Chinese expatriates, especially the lower social classes. The same month in 1894 the Furen Literary Society was merged with the Hong Kong chapter of the Revive China Society. Thereafter, Sun became the secretary of the newly merged Revive China society, which Yeung Ku-wan headed as President. They disguised their activities in Hong Kong under the running of a Business under the name "Kuen Hang Club" (乾亨行).
In the second year of the establishment of the Revive China society on 26 October 1895, the group planned and launched the First Guangzhou uprising against the Qing in Guangzhou. Yeung Kui-wan directed the uprising starting from Hong Kong. However, plans were leaked out and more than 70 members, including Lu Haodong, were captured by the Qing government. The uprising was a failure. Sun received financial support mostly from his brother who sold most of his 12,000 acres of ranch and cattle in Hawaii. Additionally, members of his family and relatives of the Sun would take refuge at the home of his brother Sun Mei at Kamaole in Kula, Maui.
The plaque shown earlier in this article is by Dora Gordine, and is situated on the site of Sun's lodgings in London in 1896, 8 Grays Inn Place. There is also a blue plaque commemorating Sun at The Kennels, Cottered, Hertfordshire, the country home of the Cantlies where Sun came to recuperate after his rescue from the legation in 1896.
On 22 October 1900, Sun launched the Huizhou uprising to attack Huizhou and provincial authorities in Guangdong. This came five years after the failed Guangzhou uprising. This time, Sun appealed to the triads for help. This uprising was also a failure. Miyazaki, who participated in the revolt with Sun, wrote an account of this revolutionary effort under the title "33-year dream" (三十三年之夢) in 1902.
In 1903, Sun made a secret trip to Bangkok in which he sought funds for his cause in Southeast Asia. His loyal followers published newspapers, providing invaluable support to the dissemination of his revolutionary principles and ideals among Chinese descant in Thailand. In Bangkok, Sun visited Yaowarat Road, in Bangkok's Chinatown. It was on this street that Sun gave a speech claiming that overseas Chinese were “the Mother of the Revolution”. He also met local Chinese merchants Seow Houtseng, whose sent financial support to him.
In 1904, Sun Yat-sen came about with the goal "to expel the Tatar barbarians (i.e. Manchu), to revive Zhonghua, to establish a Republic, and to distribute land equally among the people" (驅除韃虜, 恢復中華, 創立民國, 平均地權). One of Sun's major legacies was the creation of his political philosophy of the Three Principles of the People. These Principles included the principle of nationalism (minzu, 民族), of democracy (minquan, 民權), and of welfare (minsheng, 民生).
On 20 August 1905, Sun joined forces with revolutionary Chinese students studying in Tokyo, Japan to form the unified group Tongmenghui (United League), which sponsored uprisings in China. By 1906 the number of Tongmenghui members reached 963 people.
Sun's notability and popularity extends beyond the Greater China region, particularly to Nanyang (Southeast Asia), where a large concentration of overseas Chinese resided in Malaya (Malaysia and Singapore). While in Singapore, he met local Chinese merchants Teo Eng Hock, Tan Chor Nam and Lim Nee Soon, which mark the commencement of direct support from the Nanyang Chinese. The Singapore chapter of the Tongmenghui was established on 6 April 1906. Though some records claim the founding date to be end of 1905. The villa used by Sun was known as Wan Qing Yuan. At this point Singapore was the headquarters of the Tongmenghui.
Because of these failures, Sun's leadership was challenged by elements from within the Tongmenghui who wished to remove him as leader. In Tokyo 1907–1908 members from the recently merged Restoration society raised doubts about Sun's credentials. Tao Chengzhang (陶成章) and Zhang Binglin publicly denounced Sun with an open leaflet called "A declaration of Sun Yat-sen's Criminal acts by the Revolutionaries in Southeast Asia". This was printed and distributed in reformist newspapers like Nanyang Zonghui Bao. Their goal was to target Sun as a leader leading a revolt for profiteering gains.
The first actual United Chinese Library building was built between 1908 and 1911 below Fort Canning – 51 Armenian Street, commenced operations in 1912. The library was set up as a part of the 50 reading rooms by the Chinese Republicans to serve as an information station and liaison point for the Revolutionaries. In 1987, the library was moved to its present site at Cantonment Road. But the Armenian Street building is still intact with the plaque at its entrance with Sun Yat Sen's words. With an initial membership of over 400, the library has about 180 members today. Although the United Chinese Library, with 102 years of history, was not the only reading club in Singapore during the time, today it is the only one of its kind remaining.
In George Town, Penang, Malaysia, the Penang Philomatic Union had its premises at 120 Armenian Street in 1910, during the time when Sun spent more than four months in Penang, convened the historic "Penang Conference" to launch the fundraising campaign for the Huanghuagang Uprising and founded the Kwong Wah Yit Poh; this house, which has been preserved as the Sun Yat-sen Museum (formerly called the Sun Yat Sen Penang Base), was visited by President designate Hu Jintao in 2002. The Penang Philomatic Union subsequently moved to a bungalow at 65 Macalister Road which has been preserved as the Sun Yat-sen Memorial Centre Penang.
The life of Sun is portrayed in various films, mainly The Soong Sisters and Road to Dawn. A fictionalized assassination attempt on his life was featured in Bodyguards and Assassins. He is also portrayed during his struggle to overthrow the Qing dynasty in Once Upon a Time in China II. The TV series Towards the Republic features Ma Shaohua as Sun Yat-sen. In the 100th anniversary tribute of the film 1911, Winston Chao played Sun. In Space: Above and Beyond, one of the starships of the China Navy is named the Sun Yat-sen.
Tongmenghui member Song Jiaoren quickly tried to control the parliament. He mobilized the old Tongmenghui at the core with the merger of a number of new small parties to form a new political party called the Kuomintang (Chinese nationalist party, commonly abbreviated as "KMT") on 25 August 1912 at Huguang Guild Hall Beijing. The 1912–1913 National assembly election was considered a huge success for the KMT winning 269 of the 596 seats in the lower house and 123 of the 274 senate seats. The Second Revolution took place where Sun and KMT military forces tried to overthrow Yuan's forces of about 80,000 men in an armed conflict in July 1913. The revolt against Yuan was unsuccessful. Sun was forced to seek asylum in Japan with Politician and industrialist Fusanosuke Kuhara. In retaliation the national party leader Song Jiaoren was assassinated, almost certainly by a secret order of Yuan, on 20 March 1913.
On 25 October 1915 in Japan, Sun married Soong Ching-ling, one of the Soong sisters, Soong Ching-Ling's father was the American-educated Methodist minister Charles Soong, who made a fortune in banking and in printing of Bibles. Although Charles Soong had been a personal friend of Sun's, he was enraged when Sun announced his intention to marry Ching-ling because while Sun was a Christian he kept two wives, Lu Muzhen and Kaoru Otsuki; Soong viewed Sun's actions as running directly against their shared religion.
China had become divided between different military Leaders without a proper central government. Sun saw the danger of this and returned to China in 1917 to advocate Chinese reunification. In 1921 he started a self-proclaimed military government in Guangzhou and was elected Grand Marshal. Between 1912 and 1927 three governments had been set up in South China: the Provisional government in Nanjing (1912), the Military government in Guangzhou (1921–1925), and the National government in Guangzhou and later Wuhan (1925–1927). The southern separatist government in the South was established to rival the Beiyang government in the north. Yuan Shikai had banned the KMT. The short lived Chinese Revolutionary Party was a temporary replacement for the KMT. On 10 October 1919 Sun resurrected the KMT with the new name Chung-kuo Kuomintang (simplified Chinese: 中国国民党; traditional Chinese: 中國國民黨; pinyin: Zhōngguó guómíndǎng), or the "Nationalist Party of China".
In February 1923 Sun made a presentation to the Students' Union in Hong Kong University and declared that it was the corruption of China and the peace, order and good government of Hong Kong that turned him into a revolutionary. This same year, he delivered a speech in which he proclaimed his Three Principles of the People as the foundation of the country and the Five-Yuan Constitution as the guideline for the political system and bureaucracy. Part of the speech was made into the National Anthem of the Republic of China.
On 10 November 1924, Sun traveled north to Tianjin and delivered a speech to suggest a gathering for a "national conference" for the Chinese people. It called for the end of warlord rules and the abolition of all unequal treaties with the Western powers. Two days later, he traveled to Beijing to discuss the Future of the country, despite his deteriorating health and the ongoing civil war of the Warlords. Among the people he met was the Muslim General Ma Fuxiang, who informed Sun that they would welcome his leadership. On 28 November 1924 Sun traveled to Japan and gave a speech on Pan-Asianism at Kobe, Japan.
For many years, it was popularly believed that Sun died of liver cancer. On 26 January 1925, Sun underwent an exploratory laparotomy at Peking Union Medical College Hospital (PUMCH) to investigate a long-term illness. This was performed by the head of the Department of Surgery, Adrian S. Taylor, who stated that the procedure "revealed extensive involvement of the liver by carcinoma" and that Sun only had about ten days to live. Sun was hospitalized and his condition was treated with radium. Sun survived the initial ten-day period and on 18 February, against the advice of doctors, he was transferred to the KMT headquarters and treated with traditional Chinese Medicine. This too was unsuccessful and he died on 12 March at the age of 58. Contemporary reports in The New York Times, Time, and the Chinese newspaper Qun Qiang Bao all reported the cause of death as liver cancer, based on Taylor's observation.
The Kuomintang's constitution designated Sun as party President. After his death, the Kuomintang opted to keep that language in its constitution to honor his memory forever. The party has since been headed by a director-general (1927–1975) and a chairman (since 1975), which discharge the functions of the President.
In 1926, construction began on a majestic mausoleum at the foot of Purple Mountain in Nanjing, and this was completed in the spring of 1929. On 1 June 1929, Sun's remains were moved from Beijing and interred in the Sun Yat-sen Mausoleum.
As dedication, the 1966 Chinese Cultural Renaissance was launched on Sun's birthday on 12 November.
St. John's University in New York City has a facility built in 1973, the Sun Yat-Sen Memorial Hall, built to resemble a traditional Chinese building in honor of Sun. Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden is located in Vancouver, the largest classical Chinese gardens outside of Asia. There is the Dr. Sun Yat-sen Memorial Park in Chinatown, Honolulu. On the island of Maui, there is the little Sun Yat-sen Park at Kamaole. It is located near to where his older brother had a ranch on the slopes of Haleakala in the Kula region.
In 1981 Lily Sun took a trip to Sun Yat-sen mausoleum in Nanjing, People's Republic of China. The emblem of the KMT had been removed from the top of his sacrificial hall at the time of her visit, but was later restored. On another visit in May 2011, she was surprised to find the four characters "General Rules of Meetings" (會議通則), a document that Sun wrote in reference to Robert's Rules of Order had been removed from a stone carving.
In 1993 Lily Sun, one of Sun Yat-sen's granddaughters, donated books, photographs, artwork and other memorabilia to the Kapi`olani Community College library as part of the "Sun Yat-sen Asian collection". During October and November every year the entire collection is shown. In 1997 the "Dr Sun Yat-sen Hawaii foundation" was formed online as a virtual library. In 2006 the NASA Mars Exploration Rover Spirit labeled one of the hills explored "Zhongshan".
In November 2004 the ROC Ministry of Education proposed that Sun Yat-sen was not the father of Taiwan. Instead Sun was a foreigner from mainland China. Taiwanese Education minister Tu Cheng-sheng and Examination Yuan member Lin Yu-ti , both of whom supported the proposal, had their portraits pelted with eggs in protest. At a Sun Yat-sen statue in Kaohsiung, a 70-year-old ROC retired soldier committed suicide as a way to protest the ministry proposal on the anniversary of Sun's birthday 12 November.
In 2010 a theatrical play Yellow Flower on Slopes (斜路黃花) was created and performed. In 2011 there is also a Mandopop group called "Zhongsan Road 100" (中山路100號) known for singing the song "Our Father of the Nation" (我們國父).
In late 2011, the Chinese Youth Society of Melbourne, in celebration of the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Republic Of China, unveiled, in a Lion Dance Blessing ceremony, a memorial statue of Sun outside the Chinese Museum in Melbourne's Chinatown, on the spot where their traditional Chinese New Year Lion Dance always ends.
Sun Yat-sen spent time living in Japan while in exile. He befriended and was financially aided by a democratic revolutionary named Miyazaki Toten. Most Japanese who actively worked with Sun were motivated by a pan-Asian fear of encroaching Western imperialism. While in Japan, Sun also met and befriended Mariano Ponce, then a diplomat of the First Philippine Republic. During the Philippine Revolution and the Philippine–American War, Sun helped Ponce procure weapons salvaged from the Imperial Japanese Army and ship the weapons to the Philippines. By helping the Philippine Republic, Sun hoped that the Filipinos would win their independence so that he could use the archipelago as a staging point of another revolution. However, as the war ended in July 1902, America emerged victorious from a bitter 3-year war against the Republic. Therefore, the Filipino dream of independence vanished with Sun's hopes of collaborating with the Philippines in his revolution in China.
Dr. Sun Yat-sen (中山逸仙; ZhōngShān yì xiān) is a 2011 Chinese-language western-style opera in three acts by the New York-based American Composer Huang Ruo who was born in China and is a graduate of Oberlin College's Conservatory as well as the Juilliard School. The libretto was written by Candace Mui-ngam Chong, a recent collaborator with Playwright David Henry Hwang. It was performed in Hong Kong in October 2011 and will be given its North American premiere on 26 July 2014 at The Santa Fe Opera.
By pure chance, in May 2016, an American pathologist named Rolf F. Barth was visiting the Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall in Guangzhou when he noticed a faded copy of the original autopsy report on display. The autopsy was performed immediately after Sun's death by James Cash, a pathologist at PUMCH. Based on a tissue sample, Cash concluded that the cause of death was an adenocarcinoma in the gallbladder that had metastasized to the liver. In modern China, liver cancer is far more Common than gallbladder cancer and although the incidence rates of either in 1925 are not known, if one assumes that they were similar at that time, then the original diagnosis by Taylor was a logical conclusion. From the time of Sun's death until the appearance of Barth's report in the Chinese Journal of Cancer in September 2016, the true cause of death was not reported in any English-language publication. Even in Chinese-language sources, it only appeared in one non-medical online report in 2013.