Biography in English

T'an Yen-k'ai (1879-22 September 1930), Hanlin scholar and president of the Hunan provincial assembly who served several times as governor of Hunan in the 1912-20 period. Beginning in 1924 he held high government and Kuomintang posts at Canton, and he directed National Government affairs during the first stage of the Northern Expedition. From October 1928 until his death, he was president of the Executive Yuan at Nanking.

Although his native place was Chaling, Hunan, T'an Yen-k'ai was born at Hangchow. At the time of his birth, his father, T'an Chung-lin (d. 1905; T. Yun-ch'in), was civil governor of Chekiang. The young T'an's mother was a concubine, and he was the third child in the family. A younger brother, T'an Tse-k'ai, in due course would win fame as a calligrapher. T'an Chung-lin later became Liangkwang (Kwangtung and Kwangsi) governor general, and his children received the thorough training in the Chinese classics that was called for by his exalted status and by Confucian tradition. After passing the chü-jen degree examinations in 1902 and the chin-shih examinations in 1904, T'an Yen-k'ai became one of the last Chinese scholars to receive the coveted appointment of compiler in the Hanlin Academy. From 1904 to 1910 he served variously as an educational supervisor, director of the Central Hunan Normal School, and director of the Hunan Ming-te School (see Hu Yuan-t'an). The last of these was a focal point for anti- Manchu agitation.

When the Ch'ing court, moving slowly and painfully in the direction of constitutionalism, inaugurated provincial assemblies in October 1909, T'an Yen-k'ai became president of the Hunan assembly. The following year, he also became a Hunan delegate to the newly inaugurated National Assembly in Peking. When it convened in October, he joined with T'ang Hua-lung (q.v.) and others in petitioning the imperial court to establish promptly a parliament with a responsible cabinet. The imperial decree of November 1910, which shortened the period before the introduction of constitutional monarchy and which provided for the convocation of the new parliament in 1913, left such petitioners as T'an and T'ang dissatisfied. And these two men were among the provincial leaders who established the Hsien-yu-hui [association of friends of the constitution]. The Ch'ing court's railway policies, which included nationalization and using the railways as security for foreign loans, evoked violent opposition from Szechwan and other concerned provinces, including Hunan. T'ung-meng-hui leaders in Japan seized upon the revolutionary opportunity thus offered and sent agents to the central Yangtze provinces to exploit the situation. About this time, T'an returned to Hunan from Peking, apparently to assume additional responsibilities as director of the provincial law codification bureau. He called upon Yu Ch'eng-ko, the provincial governor, who confronted him with a list of suspected revolutionaries. T'an, who had no connection with the T'ung-meng-hui, dismissed charges against those listed, saying they were not worthy of concern. He thus played an unconscious role in easing the way for the republican revolution. The Hunanese revolutionary Chiao Ta-feng by this time had established contact with Chü Cheng (q.v.) in Hupeh; and with the spreading of the railway riots, it had been agreed that Hupeh and Hunan should stage a coordinated uprising. After the Wuchang revolt broke out prematurely and imperial troops were moved from Hunan to the Wuchang area, Chiao and his associate Ch'en Tso-hsin seized Changsha and organized a military government, with Chiao Ta-feng as tutuh [military governor] and Ch'en Tso-hsin as his deputy. In an effort to quell continuing public anxiety and unrest, Chiao appointed T'an Yen-k'ai director of military affairs. A few days later, leaders of the Ch'ün-hsien-tang [constitutional monarchy party] took advantage of the dispatching of revolutionary forces to Wuchang and assassinated both Chiao Ta-feng and Ch'en Tso-hsin. The party leaders then nominated T'an Yenk'ai as Hunan tutuh, with members of their own party to occupy other important provincial posts. A delegation was sent to T'an's residence to inform him of his election. He refused three times to accept the post (as was the convention), whereupon he was forced into a sedan chair, escorted to his new office, and acclaimed tutuh. It was decided that the deaths of Chiao Tafeng and Ch'en Tso-hsin should be attributed to "unruly troops." T'an ordered a proper burial for the two revolutionaries and decreed that statues would be erected in their honor. When Yuan Shih-k'ai succeeded Sun Yat-sen as provisional president ofthe republican government, he confirmed T'an Yen-k'ai's appointment as Hunan tutuh and gave him the concurrent post of civil governor. At the time of the so-called second revolution (see Li Liehchun), however, T'an was among the governors who declared their independence of Yuan Shih-k'ai's rule. After suppressing the movement, Yuan replaced these governors. On 21 October 1913 T'an Yen-k'ai was succeeded by T'ang Hsiang-ming. T'an went to Peking, where he stayed for about three months. In March 1914 he moved his family to Tsingtao; in August, when the Japanese declared war on Germany and attacked Tsingtao, he moved to Shanghai.

Yuan Shih-k'ai died in June 1916, and on 3 August T'an Yen-k'ai was returned to power as Hunan tuchün [military governor] and civil governor. He also received the gratuitous support of a powerful figure in south China, Lu Jung-t'ing (q.v.) of Kwangtung. During a visit to Peking in March 1917 Lu made agreements which established Hunan as a buffer zone by stipulating that it would not be invaded by Liangkwang troops and that it would be governed by a Hunanese. Lu Jung-t'ing was appointed inspector general of Liangkwang before his departure from Peking.

At the time of the so-called constitution protection movement in 1917 and the formation of a military government at Canton {see Sun Yat-sen), Tuan Ch'i-jui (q.v.) replaced T'an Yen-k'ai with one of his Peiyang subordinates, Fu Liang-tso, and sent military units into Hunan as part of his plan to unify China by force. Tuan resigned from office in November under pressure from supporters of Feng Kuochang (q.v.), and T'an Yen-k'ai was reappointed governor of Hunan on 7 December. T'an, who had left the province, did not accept the appointment. In the spring of 1918, however, he returned to Hunan by way of Canton at the behest of Sun Yat-sen. By the time T'an arrived in Hunan, however, Tuan Ch'i-jui had been restored to power in Peking as premier; Chang Ching-yao had been appointed military governor of Hunan; and Wu P'ei-fu (q.v.) had occupied Changsha. T'an and a small force were driven into the mountains of southwestern Hunan. In March 1920 Wu P'ei-fu began to evacuate his troops from Hunan, as did Feng Yuhsiang (q.v.). T'an Yen-k'ai's force marched at the heel of Wu P'ei-fu's retreating army and took Changsha and Yochow in turn by defeating Chang Ching-yao. T'an became governor again in June, and he spearheaded the federalist (lien-sheng tzu-chih) movement in China by declaring Hunan autonomous on 22 July. Four months later, after a power struggle, he announced the separation of military and civil authority. Chao Heng-t'i (q.v.) succeeded him as commander in chief of the Hunan forces and acting military governor. The provincial assembly elected Lin Chih-yu civil governor. T'an Yen-k'ai left Changsha and went to Shanghai, where he remained until February 1923.

When Sun Yat-sen organized a new military government at Canton in February 1923, T'an Yen-k'ai became minister of the interior. On 7 May, T'an was transferred to the post of minister of reconstruction. He relinquished that post in the summer of 1923 to lead an expedition against Chao Heng-t'i. T'an achieved some success, taking Changsha and other cities, but Wu P'ei-fu came to Chao's aid that autumn and drove T'an's forces back to the Hunan- Kwangtung border. T'an reached the Canton area just in time to help beat back an attack by Ch'en Chiung-ming (q.v.).

With the reorganization of the Kuomintang and the holding of the party's First National Congress in January 1924, T'an Yen-k'ai became a member of the Central Executive Committee and the Central Political Council. In July, he was appointed to the nine-man Military Affairs Commission. He accompanied Sun Yat-sen to Shaokuan in September for Sun's proposed northern expedition, and he was appointed to command the National Construction Army on 6 October. This campaign was abandoned after Feng Yuhsiang staged his coup at Peking, and Sun Yatsen accepted an invitation to go to Peking for discussions with Chang Tso-lin (q.v.) and Tuan Ch'i-jui. After Sun's death at Peking in March 1925, T'an joined with Chiang Kai-shek and Hsu Ch'ung-chih (q.v.) in suppressing the threat of open revolt by the Yunnan and Kwangsi mercenary armies of Yang Hsi-min and Liu Chen-huan.

When the Kuomintang-controlled National Government was established at Canton on 1 July 1925, T'an Yen-k'ai became a member of the Government Council and of the council's five-man standing committee, which also included Hsu Ch'ung-chih, Hu Han-min, Liao Chung-k'ai, and Wang Ching-wei. He also became chairman of the Central Political Council and a member of the new Military Council. With the establishment of the National Revolutionary Army in August, his Hunanese forces were reorganized as the Second Army. T'an was reelected to the Central Executive Committee at the Second National Congress of the Kuomintang in January 1926, and he was elected to that body's standing committee. His importance was such that when the Northern Expedition was launched in July 1926, he and Chang Jen-chieh remained in Canton to direct government and party affairs, respectively. After the Kuomintang split into factions, he served the National Government at Wuhan and chaired the controversial third plenary session of the Kuomintang's Central Executive Committee, held at Wuhan in March, which acted to diminish Chiang Kai-shek's authority. After Wang Ching-wei returned to China and took control of the Wuhan regime and Chiang Kai-shek established an opposition government at Nanking, T'an accompanied Wang to Chengchow in June for negotiations with Feng Yü-hsiang, who then held the balance of power in China. The Wuhan negotiators lost to Chiang Kai-shek in the competitive bargaining with Feng, and they then followed Chiang's lead in taking strong action against Communists in areas under their control. In August, Chiang Kai-shek, pressed by the Kwangsi generals and the need for party unity, announced his retirement. T'an Yen-k'ai was a member of the Wuhan group, headed by Wang Ching-wei, that went to Kiukiang on 20 August to meet with Li Tsung-jen (q.v.) and other Nanking leaders to discuss reconciliation. It was agreed that the fourth plenary session of the Kuomintang Central Executive Committee should be held at Nanking and that T'an Yen-k'ai and Sun Fo (q.v.) should go to Nanking before returning to Wuhan. Upon arrival at Nanking, the Wuhan delegates wired Wang Ching-wei recommending the immediate removal of the Central Executive Committee to Nanking. When Wang and other committee members reached Nanking on 5 September, they discovered that T'an and Sun had gone to Shanghai to negotiate with Hsu Ch'ung-chih and other members of the conservative Western Hills faction. T'an and Sun explained upon their return to Nanking that they had undertaken the mission on behalf of Li Tsung-jen and Pai Ch'ung-hsi, and they convinced Wang Chingwei that he should go to Shanghai for an exchange of views. The delegation that went to Shanghai on 9 September included Li Tsung-jen, Li Lieh-chun (q.v.), Wang Ching-wei, Sun Fo, and T'an Yen-k'ai. At a meeting in Shanghai on 12 September, Sun Fo presented a draft proposal calling for the formation of a committee composed of members of all three Kuomintang factions which would function as an interim government. Although most of the delegates supported this plan, Wang Ching-wei was angered by it, for he believed that his own lieutenants had undermined his hopes for power. He left the conference and Shanghai to return to Kiukiang. On 15 September at Nanking T'an Yen-k'ai chaired the meeting at which the Central Special Committee was established. Chiang Kai-shek returned to power at Nanking in 1928, and T'an Yen-k'ai became Chairman of the National Government and acting chairman of the Central Political Council. With the victorious end of the Northern Expedition and the establishment of the new National Government at Nanking on 10 October 1928, Chiang Kai-shek assumed the government chairmanship. T'an Yen-k'ai then became the president of the newly created Executive Yuan, a position equivalent to that of premier. At the Third National Congress of the Kuomintang, T'an was reelected to the Central Executive Committee and its standing committee. While attending a military review at Nanking on 21 September 1930 he suffered a stroke, and he died the following day. The National Government proclaimed national mourning for the departed revolutionary veteran. After an elaborate state funeral, as befitted a deceased chief of state, T'an Yen-k'ai was buried at Lingkussu, near the mausoleum of Sun Yatsen. T'an Yen-k'ai was survived by two sons and two daughters. Their mother, ne'e Fang, had died on 24 June 1918. The elder son, T'an Pei-yu (1900-), known as Beue Tann, became executive director of the International Monetary Fund. A daughter, T'an Hsiang, married Ch'en Ch'eng (q.v.) on 1 January 1932.

Biography in Chinese

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