5/12/14

Connections Between the Soong Sisters, a Chinese who served in American Civil War, and Macon, GA.

        It might seem very unlikely for there to be connections between Macon, Georgia with the Soong sisters, arguably the most influential trio of sisters in modern world history, and with a Chinese who fought for the South in the American Civil War.
        Cao Zishi, a 14-year old Chinese boy adopted by missionaries in China was brought to the American South in 1859 just before the outbreak of the Civil War. Adopting the American name of a benefactor, C. K. Marshall, he volunteered for the Confederate army although it is unclear whether at his young age he actually engaged in combat or was just part of the support personnel. In an interview in 1905, Marshall's son mentioned that Marshall had lived near Macon, Georgia. After the war, Marshall attended college in Tennessee and then returned to Shanghai as a missionary in 1869, and he founded a school that later became Suzchou University.
Excerpt from June 8, 1905 interview in Buffalo Express. Source: http://bluegrapychinese.blogspot.com
        During his stay in Shanghai, Marshall met Charlie Soong, another Chinese who lived in the American South for many years. He had studied theology in Wilmington, North Carolina as well as at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee. After his return to China, Charlie Soong made a fortune selling Bibles, funds that he used to help Sun Yat Sen's revolution in 1911.
        The common background of Soong and Marshall with Christian religion in the American South might have led to Soong and Marshall becoming acquainted in Shanghai.  Marshall, in fact, became a tutor for the Soong daughters teaching them rudiments of Chinese characters and some of the classics.
         Soong met and married a well-educated Chinese woman from a prominent family. They were ahead of  the times and wanted their daughters to be educated, but China did not have colleges for women so they turned toward the United States.   Due to his own positive experiences in the American South, Soong chose to send his three daughters to the American South for their schooling.   He asked W. Burke in Macon, Georgia, a former classmate at Vanderbilt who became a Methodist missionary, to accept them as his wards.

Macon Telegraph newspaper announcement regarding 3 Soong sisters in Macon, 1908
       The two oldest daughters enrolled at Wesleyan College for Women in Macon.  However, Macon seemed to have been a bad choice for 13 year old May-Ling as she was not allowed to attend a white middle school in Macon because she was not white.  This actually worked out to her advantage as she received a better education from a private tutor than a public school could provide.

Macon Telegraph, 1910.

        The three Soong daughters would later have great influence in China's, and world history.  The oldest daughter, Ai-Ling married H. H. Kung, richest man and finance minister of China,  Ching-Ling, the next oldest married the leader of the Chinese revolution, Sun Yat Sen, and the youngest, May-Ling, married Chiang Ka--Shek, the first President of the Republic of China.   










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