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General A general officer is an officer of high rank in the armies, and in some nations' air forces, space forces, or marines Marines or naval infantry, are typically a military force trained to operate on Littoral Zone, littoral zone in suppo ...

General
Cao Kun (;
Courtesy name A courtesy name (), also known as a style name, is a name bestowed upon one at adulthood in addition to one's given name. This practice is a tradition in the Sinosphere, including China, Japan, Korea, and Vietnam. The courtesy name would replac ...
: Zhongshan () (December 12, 1862 – May 15, 1938) was a Chinese warlord and politician, who served the President of the Republic of China from 1923 to 1924, as well as the military leader of the Zhili clique in the
Beiyang Army
Beiyang Army
; he also served as a trustee of the Catholic University of Peking.


Early life and rise to leadership

Cao was born to a poor family in
Tianjin Tianjin (), Postal Map Romanization, alternately romanized as Tientsin, is a Direct-administered municipalities of China, municipality and a coastal metropolis in North China, Northern China on the shore of the Bohai Sea. It is one of the Nat ...
. During the
First Sino-Japanese War The First Sino-Japanese War (25 July 1894 – 17 April 1895) was a conflict between the Qing dynasty of China and the Empire of Japan The was a historical nation-state that existed from the Meiji Restoration in 1868 until the en ...

First Sino-Japanese War
in 1894, he went with the army to fight in Joseon. After the war was over he joined
Yuan Shikai Yuan Shikai (; 16 September 1859 – 6 June 1916) was a Chinese military and government official who rose to power during the late Qing dynasty, becoming the Emperor of the Empire of China (1915–1916). He tried to save the dynasty with a numb ...

Yuan Shikai
to participate in the training of the New Army (known as the
Beiyang Army
Beiyang Army
). Admired by Yuan, Cao managed to rise very quickly. By the time of the 1911
Xinhai Revolution The 1911 Revolution, also known as the Chinese Revolution or the Xinhai Revolution, ended China's last Dynasties in Chinese history, imperial dynasty, the Manchu-led Qing dynasty, and resulted in the establishment of the Republic of China (1912 ...
he commanded the Beiyang 3rd Division. He was made a general in the
Beiyang Army
Beiyang Army
and led the Zhili clique after the death of Feng Guozhang. During the 1918 election he was promised the vice-presidency by Duan Qirui but the office remained vacant after most of the
National Assembly In politics, a national assembly is either a unicameral In government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a State (polity), state. In the case of its broad associative defin ...
left, depriving it of a
quorum A quorum is the minimum number of members of a deliberative assembly (a body that uses parliamentary procedure, such as a legislature) necessary to conduct the business of that group. According to '' Robert's Rules of Order Newly Revised'', th ...
. He felt betrayed by Duan and defeated him in battle in 1920. After forcing the resignations of both
Xu Shichang Xu Shichang (Hsu Shih-chang; ; courtesy name A courtesy name (), also known as a style name, is a name bestowed upon one at adulthood in addition to one's given name. This practice is a tradition in the Sinosphere, including China, Japan, Ko ...

Xu Shichang
and
Li Yuanhong
Li Yuanhong
, and engaging in bribery, he became
president of the Republic of China The president of the Republic of China, commonly known as the president of Taiwan is the head of state A head of state (or chief of state) is the public persona who officially embodies a state (polity), state#Foakes, Foakes, pp. 110 ...
(in
Beijing Beijing ( ), Chinese postal romanization, alternatively romanized as Peking ( ), is the Capital city, capital of the People's Republic of China. It is the world's List of national capitals by population, most populous national capital city, ...
) on 10 October 1923, serving to 2 November 1924. Cao had a family connection to the Chinese Muslim military commander Ma Fuxing, who resided in Xinjiang.


"Bribing president"

Cao Kun infamously acquired the presidential office by openly bribing assembly members with 5,000 silver dollars each. That episode brought disrepute to the Beiyang government and the National Assembly, which lacked a quorum even to hold elections. It also turned all the rival factions against him, and his own clique began suffering from dissension. Relations with his chief protégé, Wu Peifu, soured and there were rumors of an impending split within the Zhili clique, but they stayed together to fight against the Fengtian clique. One of his first acts as president was to promulgate the 1923 Constitution of China. Hastily drafted by the guilt-ridden assembly, it was deemed the most democratic and progressive charter yet, but like previous charters, it was ignored completely. During a war against Zhang Zuolin in October 1924, Cao was betrayed and imprisoned by one of his own officers, General Feng Yuxiang, in the Beijing coup. Feng occupied
Beijing Beijing ( ), Chinese postal romanization, alternatively romanized as Peking ( ), is the Capital city, capital of the People's Republic of China. It is the world's List of national capitals by population, most populous national capital city, ...
and forced Cao to resign. His brother, Cao Rui, committed suicide while he was under house arrest. In 1926, Cao Kun was released from captivity as a goodwill gesture by Feng to Wu Peifu. Cao died in his home at
Tianjin Tianjin (), Postal Map Romanization, alternately romanized as Tientsin, is a Direct-administered municipalities of China, municipality and a coastal metropolis in North China, Northern China on the shore of the Bohai Sea. It is one of the Nat ...
in May 1938.


References


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Sources

* * , - {{DEFAULTSORT:Cao, Kun 1862 births 1938 deaths Beiyang Army personnel Presidents of the Republic of China Republic of China warlords from Tianjin 20th-century Chinese heads of government Trustees of educational establishments Members of the Zhili clique Empire of China (1915–1916)