A news report by China.org.cn on the early life of Mao Zedong in Changsha:
To the people of China, Changsha is a city of heroes. Mao Zedong, who saved the Party’s cause several times, spent his youth studying, living and working here. This is also where Mao Zedong Thought was formed.
“The evening clouds look heavy in the autumn sky. The revolt breaks out as a thunderbolt does fall.” These are lines from the first military poem “Autumn Harvest Uprising to the Tune of Moon over the West River” written by Mao Zedong about the history of the Autumn Harvest Uprising he initiated and led. After the uprising, Mao embarked on the road of rewriting China’s history with the barrel of a gun.
Back in 1927, with the failure of the Nationalist Revolution (1924-1927), the White Terror enveloped China and the revolutionary cause came to a crisis. The Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) convened an emergency meeting in Wuhan, also known as the August 7th Meeting.
At this meeting, Mao asserted that “Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun.” Subsequently, he returned to Hunan as a Central Commissioner to convey the spirit of the meeting, and led the Autumn Harvest Uprising.
However, the uprising did not go as smoothly as expected.
On September 9, 1927, three forces set out separately from Xiushui, Anyuan, and Tonggu in Jiangxi Province. After taking Liling, Liuyang, and several other cities, the enemy’s stronger military presence and the forces’ lack of fighting experience caused setbacks for the three forces in succession. Mao took stock of the situation and immediately wrote a letter requesting the army to assemble in Wenjiashi Township, Liuyang.
On September 19, the Frontline Committee held a meeting after the three forces arrived in Wenjiashi Township. At the meeting it was decided that the forces would stop attacking Changsha and move the army to rural areas where the enemy’s rule was weak. This decision helped preserve the revolutionary forces and make the revolution carry on.
Therefore, this rendezvous in Wenjiashi Township was crucial to the Autumn Harvest Uprising. Mao analyzed the disparity between the enemy and the communist forces and came to the conclusion that, there would be little chance of successfully taking Changsha. He argued that the troops should march to the remote mountains where the enemy’s rule was weak.
Lu Deming, the commander in chief of the uprising supported Mao’s view and believed that it was wrong to attack Changsha because it might lead to the failure of the uprising. Therefore, the final decision was made to march to the mountainous areas on the Hunan–Jiangxi border.
Later, Mao Zedong led the army to the Jinggang Mountains, where Mao blazed a revolutionary trail with Chinese characteristics. Mao put a lot of effort into it, and came up a lot of effective methods to solve the problems of developing Party branches in rural areas. One of them is to use Land Law for Jinggang Moutains to guide land reform. The guide was amended in practice to Land Law for Xingguo County afterwards. Gradually, policies and measures suitable for Jinggang Mountains, as well as other rural areas in China at that time took shape. In 1930, Mao wrote an article, which is now included in Selected Works of Mao Zedong, with the title “A Single Spark Can Start A Prairie Fire.” This article provided solutions to the problems of China’s revolution.
More twists and turns lay ahead, but it was very important to blaze this trail. The trail of “encircling cities from rural areas, and seizing political power by arms is still of great significance to China today. The Autumn Harvest Uprising was like a spark, setting off a revolutionary fervor on the land of Liuyang.