Dazexiang Uprising

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The Dazexiang Uprising (simplified Chinese: 大泽乡起义; traditional Chinese: 大澤鄉起義; pinyin: Dàzéxiāng Qǐyì, July 209 BCE - December 209 BCE) was the first uprising against Qin rule following the death of Qin Shi Huang.

Chen Sheng and Wu Guang were both army officers who were ordered to lead their bands of commoner soldiers north to participate in the defense of Yuyang (漁陽). However, they were stopped halfway in Anhui province by a severe rainstorm and flooding. The harsh Qin laws stated that anyone late to show up for government jobs will be executed, regardless of the nature of the delay. Chen and Wu realized that they could never make it on time and decided to organize a band that would rebel against the government, that they would die fighting for their freedom rather than by execution, with Chen Sheng declared the king of the former Kingdom of Chu by his men. They became the center of armed uprisings all over China, and in a few months their strength congregated to around ten thousand men, composed mostly of discontent peasants. But on the battlefield, they were no match for the highly professional Qin soldiers and the uprising was in trouble in less than a year. Wu was the victim of infighting among the rebel generals, while Chen was betrayed by one of his guards and assassinated. However, they set up the example that was to be followed by Liu Bang and Xiang Yu. Their spirit is best summed up in Chen's quote "王侯將相寧有種乎" (wáng hóu jiāng xiāng níng yǒu zhǒng hu, "Are kings and nobles given their high status by birth?"), meaning that every man, regardless of birth, can become something great if he exerts himself. The uprising was started in Dazexiang, which translates into "Big Swamp Village". In the beginning of the uprising, Chen Sheng and Wu Guang recruited 900 villagers to be a patrol.


Chen Sheng and Wu Guang led the uprising. Chen Sheng was a tenant who was born in Henan and Wu Guang was his townsman. When Chen Sheng was young, he used to plough with some philistines. One day, he felt tired, then he stopped working and went to a hill for a rest. At that time, he said to his companions "If someone among us rises to power and position, please don't forget us." His companions laughed at him and said "You are a tenant, how can you be rich and powerful?" Chen Sheng sighed and said "How can a sparrow comprehend the ambition of a swan(燕雀安知鸿鹄之志哉)?"Later on, Chen Sheng became an army officer, and led the Uprising with Wu Guang, his deputy. Wu Guang was a kind and influential man, but nothing more could be found about him from the history records.