10th Grade Imperialism Inquiry
Do the Boxers Deserve a Bad Rap?
Download Entire Inquiry Here

Department of the Army, Office of the Chief Signal Officer. “A Chinese Boxer, 1900.”  Public domain. 
Staging the Compelling Question-
Teachers could stage the compelling question by using the political cartoon The Boxers, printed in Harper’s Weekly in 1900.
The political cartoon could be used to spark discussion about who students think the Boxers were and how they think people in the United States viewed them. Students might also consider symbols such as Uncle Sam’s boxing gloves as well as exaggerations such as the depiction of the Chinese rebel. Teachers should point out the stereotypes and exaggerations drawn in the cartoon and may ask, “Who do you think drew this cartoon and why?” or “What does this cartoon tell you about Western perceptions of the Chinese?” A resource guide helpful to students as they analyze political cartoons can be found at the Library of Congress:
Supporting Question 1- How did the Opium Wars create foreign influence in China and how did the Chinese react?
Supporting Question 2- What were the goals and consequences of Christian missions in China and why did the Boxers object to these?
  • Source A: Walter Lefeber, interview transcript describing perceptions of Missionaries in China, “American Missionaries in China,” Public Broadcasting System, 2006 From American Experience, America 1900, © 1996-2015 WGBH Educational Foundation.
    Source B: Hua-Cheng Kwei, letter to the Holy Union Mission in Sweden, 1900 The Christian and Missionary Alliance. Used with permission.
Supporting Question 3- What happened during the Boxer rebellion?
  • Source A: Fei Ch'i-hao, account of the Boxer Rebellion, “The Boxer Rebellion, 1900.”  Public domain. Miner, Luella, Two Heroes of Cathay, (N.Y.: Fleming H. Revell, 1907), pp. 63-128. 
  • Source B: Luella Miner, account of the Boxer Rebellion, “Miner Luella, A Prisoner in Peking” (excerpts), Outlook, 1900 Public domain. Miner Luella, “A Prisoner in Peking, 1900.”
Supporting Question 4- To what extent were the Boxers misunderstood?
  • Source A: Economist staff, Chinese account of the Boxer Rebellion, “Remembering the Boxer Uprising:  Righteous Fist” (excerpts), The Economist, 2010 © The Economist Newspaper Limited, London December 16, 2010.
  • Source B: Warren I. Cohen, description of the complex nature of the Boxer’s Rebellion, “The Open Door Policy and the Boxer War: The US and China,” Gilder Lehrman, no date The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History
  • Source C: Walter Lefeber, interview transcript describing the Boxer Rebellion, “The Boxer Rebellion,” Public Broadcasting System (excerpts), 2006 From AMERICAN EXPERIENCE, America 1900. © 1996-2015 WGBH Educational Foundation.