Dr. Sun Yat-sen

Dr. Sun Yat-sen

Reading Comprehension for November 12

China has a very long history. Since the beginning, emperors ruled the land with the utmost authority. Those emperors owned the entire nation. They could do whatever they pleased. Some of them were great. Some of them were fair. And some of them were just horrible. Interestingly, this pattern -- good, fair, and just horrible -- usually followed the rise and fall of a dynasty. The earlier rulers of a dynasty were like pioneers. They worked hard to make sure that the nation would be safe and sound. Their offspring, however, did not work as hard. Thus, their performance tended to worsen over time. As people began to suffer, they started to hope for a change. Eventually, one brave man would rise up. He would end the failing dynasty and create a new one. For more than 3,000 years, the Chinese welcomed one emperor after another and one dynasty after another. They accepted them all.

In 1644, the Manchus, a nomadic tribe living northeast of China, launched a series of attacks. After they defeated the Ming dynasty, they declared a new era had arrived. So the Qing dynasty began. In the early days of the Qing dynasty, things were great. The economy was good. The nation was strong. And everybody was happy. This period of peace and prosperity lasted for about 130 years. After that, things went from fair to just horrible. Toward the end of the 19th century, people had become so miserable that they started to hope for a change again. They expected a brave man would soon rise up and build a new dynasty. They were half right. A brave man did rise up and end the Qing dynasty. But he had no interest in being an emperor or having his own dynasty. He wanted to place the power in the hands of the people. He wanted to build a democratic China. That remarkable person was Dr. Sun Yat-sen.

Dr. Sun Yat-sen was born into a poor peasant family on November 12, 1866. Called Sun Wen at the time, he was the fifth of six children. To support his large family, Dr. Sun Yat-sen's father worked two jobs. During the day, he was a farmer. At night, he was a watchman. Money, undoubtedly, was tight. In 1871, Sun Mei, Dr. Sun Yat-sen's eldest brother, moved to Honolulu, Hawaii, to work as a laborer. He wanted to try his hand in this foreign land, hoping to become rich one day. Indeed, his dream came true after just a couple of years. By the time Dr. Sun Yat-sen and his mother visited him in 1879, Sun Mei was already a very successful businessman. He paid for his younger brother's schooling in Honolulu.

Dr. Sun Yat-sen was a very bright child. Before he left China, he did not know a word of English. Yet, he was able to pick up the language very quickly. During his three-year study at the Iolani School, he learned English, mathematics, and science. He did very well in all three subjects. After he graduated from the high school, he enrolled in Oahu College. Unfortunately, he was unable to finish his education there. Fearing that Dr. Sun Yat-sen might convert to Christianity, Sun Mei decided to send his younger brother back to their hometown in southeast China.

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