Lin Ch'ang-min (16 July 1876-December 1925), scholar and government official who devoted his life to the development of constitutionalism and parliamentary government in China. He met an untimely end after joining Kuo Sungling at the time of Kuo's 1925 revolt against Chang Tso-lin.
Although he was born in Hangchow, Lin Ch'ang-min was a native of Fukien. He received his early education in a family school which had been founded by his father, Lin Hsiao-hsun, a Hanlin scholar and devotee of ^Vestern political theory. Among his teachers were Lin Shu (q.v.), who taught the Chinese classics, and Lin Wan-li, who taught Western subjects.
After passing the examinations for the shengyuan degree in 1897, Lin Ch'ang-min studied English and Japanese at the Hangchow Language School. In 1902 he made a brief trip to Japan, and after his graduation from the Hangchow Language School, he went to Japan to enroll at Waseda University. A classmate of such prominent Japanese as Nakano and Kazami Akira, he was graduated with honors in political economy in 1909. In Japan, Lin also served as president of the Fukien Students' Association. His circle of friends included Inukai Tsuyoshi and Ozaki Yukio, and he was acquainted with Chang Chien, Ts'en Ch'unhsuan, Liu Ch'ung-yu, T'ang Hua-lung, Yang Tu, and Sung Chiao-jen. He had special respect for Sung Chiao-jen. Lin held the viewthat to be a statesman it is necessary to be magnanimous, and for the sake of the future of China he aUgned himself even with those with w'hom he differed pohtically.
After returning to China in 1909, Lin Ch'angmin refused to take the examination for returned students which would have earned for him the advanced degree of chin-shih. Liu Ch'ung-yu, then deputy speaker of the Fukien provincial assembly, recommended that Lin be appointed secretary general of the assembly, and Lin accepted the office. In the winter of 1909, representatives of various provincial assemblies converged on Shanghai to form an association of comrades to petition for parliamentary government. Lin served as secretary of the organization. He then went to Peking where, with Hsu Fo-su, an ardent constitutionalist, he advocated constitutional government in the Kuo-min kung-pao. In this way, he helped shape public opinion and so caused the Ch'ing government to shorten the period of preparation for constitutional government.
Lin Ch'ang-min also served as dean of Fukien Law School. However, he came in conflict with Cheng Yu-ch'i, a prominent local conservative who held the post of principal, and he was dismissed by the educational commissioner. With the help of his colleagues in the provincial assembly, Lin founded a law college of his own. He served and fostered this institution throughout his life. Lin was on the staff of the Shun-pao [Shanghai news daily] in Shanghai when the Wuchang revolt erupted in 1911. That winter, delegates from various provinces met in Shanghai to discuss the organization of a government and the election of a commander in chief Lin favored Li Yuan-hung, but Ch'en Ch'i-mei suggested Huang Hsing, and a heated debate ensued. Soon thereafter, at the behest of Sun Yat-sen, who had been elected provisional president, three delegates were dispatched from each province to form the provisional Senate. Lin Ch'ang-min was a Fukien delegate. When the provisional Senate was removed to Peking in the spring of 1912, Lin was elected its secretary general. In the ensuing year, an election was held for the National Assembly, and, curiously, Lin was elected a member representing San-yin-no-yen-han in Outer Mongolia. Upon the establishment of the National Assembly in April, he was elected to serve concurrently as its secretary general. Lin Ch'ang-min was an eloquent speaker and was familiar with the intricacies of parliamentary procedures. In 1914, at Yuan Shih-k'ai's behest, a constitutional drafting committee was set up in the Ts'an-cheng-yuan [political council], and Lin was entrusted with its agenda, minutes, and general affairs. After Yuan's death in June 1916, Lin, with his friend Chang Kuo-kan and others, labored for the restoration of the provisional constitution and the first Parliament. These efforts caused Sun Yat-sen's campaigns and those of the National Protection Army, led by Tsai O and T'ang Chi-yao (qq.v.), to cease, thus bringing about a temporary unification of the southern and northern factions in China.
Lin was a member of the Progressive party [chin-pu-tang]. The Pi-ogressive party had a four-point platform: better government, respect for public opinion, maintenance of freedoms conferred by law, and greater welfare for the people. It advocated a certain amount of cooperation with the government in power, with the hope that China would be led to practice constitutional government through the power of persuasion rather than revolution. This approach w-as incompatible with that of the Kuomintang, and, although there was a period of cooperation between the Kuomintang and the Progressive party after the restoration of the first Parliament in August 1916 which culminated in the drafting of the T'ien-Can hsien-fa [temple of heaven constitution]. However, a political battle began in May 1917 over the issue of China's declaration of war against Germany and led to the dissolution of Parliament. When the constitution was being drafted, Lin had joined the Constitutional Research Association, and thereafter he had been regarded as a pillar of the so-called "research clique." In fact, however, being purely a constitutional study group, the association had neither a political nor a party platform, and it was never organized as a political body.
After the dissolution of the Parliament in 1917, Lin Ch'ang-min entered the service of Feng Kuo-chang (q.v.), then the vice president at Peking, as secretary general. Two months later, Tuan Ch'i-jui (q.v.) resumed power after defeating Chang Hsün (q.v.), who had plotted the restoration of P'u-yi as emperor. Leaders of the Progressive party were invited to join Tuan's cabinet, and consequently, Lin, together with Liang Ch'i-ch'ao and T'ang Hua-lung, accepted the offer. Lin was made minister of justice. Three months later, the Progressive party decided to withdraw from the Tuan cabinet, and Lin resigned on the ground of partisan responsibility. During his incumbency in the judicial ministry, Lin was lauded for his refusal to take a bribe of 100,000 yuan from Chang Chen-fang, who was under sentence for his involvement in the restoration attempt and who tried to arrange special amnestv for himself At the conclusion of the First World War, Hsü Shih-ch'ang (q.v.), then the president, established a foreign affairs advisory committee with Wang Ta-hsieh as chairman and Lin Ch'ang-min as a member and executive director. Realizing that the Japanese delegates to the Paris Peace Conference would press Britain and France to allow Japan to seize German interests and rights in Shantung, Lin published an article entitled "Shantung is Finished" in the popular Peking paper Ch'en-pao [morning post] to warn his compatriots. This challenging article helped to awaken the public and gave impetus to the May Fourth Movement. At that time, Lin's committee also suggested the unification of all railways in China, with a view to countering the monopolistic designs of Japan in Manchuria. This advice was not accepted by Hsü, and the committee was abolished at its own request. From that time on, Lin Ch'angmin was regarded as the leader of the anti- Japanese faction.
After the founding of the League of Nations, Lin, together with Ts'ai Yuan-p"ei and ^Vang Ch'ung-hui, launched the Chinese League of Nations Association, of which Lin became a director. Lin attended the League of Nations Association's general conference at Milan, Italy, accompanied by Wang Shih-chieh and Carsun Chang. Lin was also instrumental in founding the Asian Cultural Association and the Chianghsueh-she [Chinese lecture association] ; the latter organization invited such scholars of world renown as John Dewey, Bertrand Russell, and Rabindranath Tagore to come to China and address students.
In the summer of 1920 Lin Ch'ang-min visited England. During this sojourn ( 1 920-2 1 ) , he became acquainted with the history and economic theories of socialism. He was particularly attracted by the writings of Sidney and Beatrice Webb. After traveling in various countries in Europe, Lin became deeply impressed by the spread of postwar Bolshevism. After returning to China in October 1921, Lin, together with Liang Ch'i-ch'ao Ts'ai Yuan-p'ei, and Wang Ch'ung-hui, proposed that the first Parliament be restored to enact a constitution. Their prop'osal was well received, and under Li Yuan-hung's presidency the first Parliament and its constitutional drafting committee was revived. In mid- 1922 Lin was elected to the drafting committee. Inspired by his observations in Europe, he recommended strongly that the structure of the labor system should be specified in constitutional provisions as a precautionary measure against the spread of Bolshevism. He admonished: '"During the 19th century, the main struggle in various countries was for constitutional government, but in the 20th century peoples struggle for their livelihood .... Who can guarantee that Bolshevism will not become rampant in China ?" During the deliberations on the provisions dealing with economic livelihood, Lin showed himself to be most resourceful and assiduous; accordingly, he was elected chief drafter and reporter by his colleagues. HoW"ever, immediately after the economic section had gone through its third reading, the Chihli warlords under Ts'ao K'un (q.v.) successfully pressured and bribed the Parliament to elect Ts'ao to the presidency. The so-called Ts'ao K'un constitution was promulgated hurriedly and extralegally. The provisions on livelihood and on local self-government, which Lin believed to be of great importance, were deleted.
Lin was disheartened by this turn of events. He left Peking and issued a statement with some other members of the drafting committee, including Chang Shih-chao and Yang Yungt'ai, censuring the Ts'ao K'un version of the constitution. They suggested 14 points for amending the constitution, among these a provision that would prohibit an incumbent military officer from election as president. About that time (1923-24), there was general indignation in China over the Nishihara Loan, an instrument of the new Japanese "velvet glove" policy. Lin realized that such a policy would eventually prove detrimental to the mutual interests of China and Japan and thereby would threaten the general peace of Asia. He therefore wrote a pamphlet entitled Ching-kao The train had Jih-pen-jen shu [respectful advice to the Japanese] to point out that this was a "suicidal policy." This pamphlet was translated into Japanese and attracted great attention in Japan and ^mong the Japanese military leaders stationed in China. In the winter of 1924 Tuan Ch'i-jui resumed power in Peking as chief executive. Lin was appointed a member of a rehabilitation conference and later was asked to make preparations for a national constitution drafting committee. That committee, with some of its 70-odd members appointed by the central government and others selected by various provinces, was supposed to complete its draft within three months. It met in August 1925 and elected Lin chairman. The committee held 47 meetings and drafted a constitution consisting of 14 chapters with 160 articles. The draft, which reflected Lin's beliefs, combined local self-government with a central federal power. It stipulated that the budget for education should not be less than 20 percent of the total disbursements of the government. It also provided for the establishment of a Kuoshih fa-yuan [state court] to interpret the constitution.
Before the draft could be submitted to the government for consideration, a coup d'etat took place in Peking. After ousting Ts'ao K'un in favor of Tuan Ch'i-jui, Feng Yü-hsiang (q.v.) plotted to reverse his policy by attempting to imprison Tuan. At that time, Feng succeeded in persuading Kuo Sung-ling '1887-1925;, the field commander of one of the Fengtien armies and the favorite deputy of Chang Hsueh-liang (q.v.), to revolt against Chang Tso-lin. A subordinate of Feng who garrisoned Peking began to arrest Tuan's confidants and aides. All roads from Peking were closely guarded by Feng's soldiers to prevent any partisan of Tuan from fleeing. Because he was a supporter of Tuan, Lin was in danger of losing his life. However, he unexpectedly received a secret invitation from Kuo Sung-ling, who, having having heard much about Lin's prestige and statesmanship, urged him to join the revolutionary cause. The secret message was delivered by Wang Xai-mo, then director of the Peking- Hankow railway and a supporter of Feng Yü-hsiang. To show his sincerity and urgency, Kuo, without awaiting Lin's reply, had dispatched a special train to Peking to fetch him. Lin Ch'ang-min been waiting for Lin at the East Station in Peking for three days. Realizing the danger that a refusal of the secret invitation might incur, Lin availed himself of the opportunity to escape; he left Peking at midnight on 30 November 1925. Under the direction of Kuo's aide, the train did not stop until it arrived at Kou-pang-tzu, where Kuo and Lin met for the first time.
After seeing Kuo, Lin intended to cross the Liao River to reach Yin-k'ou as planned, but he found that the river had not frozen sufficiently to allow his cart to pass. Therefore, he was forced to accompany Kuo's army in its advance. Kuo's army scored some early victories, but was defeated by Heilungkiang cavalry, with Japanese help, at Pai-ch'i-pao. Kuo was captured and executed, and Lin was killed by a stray bullet at Shui-chu-chia-tun. According to Liang Chin-tung, who was a close associate and confidant of Lin Ch'ang-min and who, with Lin's younger brother Tien-min (1867-1960), chief engineer of the Fukien Electric Company, went to Dairen to fetch Lin's remains, there was no political arrangement whatsoever between Lin and Kuo Sung-ling. Lin apparently left Peking merely to save himself from the possibility of political persecution. Kuo was interested in Lin's services because he had heard about Lin's prestige among the Japanese and presumed he could use Lin to negotiate with the Kwantung Army, which he expected to obstruct his military advance. However, Lin's adversaries and some of his friends ascribed Lin's motive in this misadventure to opportunism. Lin was adept in calligraphy. He had considerable poetic talent in the classic idiom, and after the literary renaissance in China he sometimes wrote vernacular poems. Although he was by nature romantic and felt "an overwhelmingly amorous sentiment which he did not know how to fulfill," his marriage was not ideal. After his return from Europe, he gave lectures on love and marriage at Peking Normal College, in which he often cited indirectly his personal experience. His wife, nee Yeh, died early. He was survived by two concubines, four sons, and two daughters. His elder daughter, Lin Hui-yin, married Liang Ssu-ch'eng, (q.v.), a son of Liang Ch'i-ch'ao. His second daughter was Lin Yeh-yu. His elder son, Lin Huan (Henry H. Lin), born in 1915, became a professor at Ohio University. Lin Heng was one year younger than Lin Huan ; he became an air force pilot and was killed in Chungking during the Sino-Japanese war. Lin Ch"ang-min's two youngest sons, Lin Hsuan and Lin Hsung, both college graduates in engineering, lived in mainland China after 1949.