On September 5th, 1839 the first Opium War started when China attempted to stop Britain from smuggling opium into the country. Smuggling opium into the country was a way for the British to sell their wares to gain the silver that China required for trade, as they had no interest in British goods. British merchants opted for this Chinese-declared-illegal-trade over the depletion of England’s silver reserves. One would think that selling such cargo would be hard to accomplish but it turned out that there was no shortage of corrupt Chinese merchants.
The saturation of this product on the Chinese people proved debilitating for many of its citizens. The drug did have valuable medical uses but most of the merchandise became an addictive drug that incapacitated millions of unwary people to the debilitating sport known as “chasing the dragon”.
This spurred the Chinese government to attempt to stop the flow of this poison from affecting more of its citizenry. Their action was to seize as much of the opium they could get their hands on. Their first action took place in the Southern part of the country named Canton. While the Chinese action was initially successful, a reaction that could not be defended took place.
The British navy was petitioned to intervene and intervene they doid. Historically, China has had the pleasure of having one of the strongest armed forces with the most evolved military thought the world has ever seen. However, the poor economic and military condition of that day was very much lackluster compared to the days of old. The British navy danced around resistance with little or no problem forcing China to relent and pay homage to English superiority..