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War in Tong-King – Why the French are in Tong-King and what they are doing there

On June 7, 1850, in Ellicottville, New York, Sidney Augustus Staunton was born in the United States. In 1871, he earned his diploma from the United States Naval Academy. He was in the Navy his entire life, rising to the rank of Rear Admiral.

The Nguyen Dynasty was Vietnam’s final era of feudalism. In order to unite the nation, Nguyen Anh overthrew the Tay Son Dynasty and established the Nguyen Dynasty in 1802. Prior to that, Mr. Pigneau de Behaine, a French Catholic missionary, served as a mediator for Nguyen Anh in order to obtain reinforcements and weapons from the French in order to combat the Tay Son Dynasty. As a result, the Nguyen and French dynasties signed the Treaty of Versailles of 1787, which included a clause requiring France to send warships and troops to aid the Nguyen.

The succeeding Nguyen rulers abandoned their support for Catholicism when Nguyen Anh passed away. Kings started to outlaw Catholicism, break off diplomatic relations with France, and arrest and execute missionaries. When the French sent soldiers and warships to battle the Nguyen Dynasty in 1858, the war between France and Vietnam officially broke out. The Nguyen Dynasty was forced to yield the provinces of Bien Hoa, Gia Dinh, and Dinh Tuong to the French as a result of the conflict, which lasted for several years and came to a close with the Treaty of Saigon in 1862. The French were also granted freedom of religion and recompense for their losses. With the Harmand Treaty, which was signed in 1883 after the French stormed Thuan An and forced the Nguyen court to submit, Vietnam was formally placed under France’s protection.

With tremendous precision and persuasion, Sidney Augustus Staunton’s War in Tong-King – Why the French are in Tong-King and what they are doing there provided an analysis of the events. Regarding the conflict between France and Tong-King in their trilateral ties with China, he voiced very frank opinions. What Sidney Staunton wrote has historical significance even today. 

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12 thoughts on “War in Tong-King – Why the French are in Tong-King and what they are doing there

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