[Narrative 2] The Land Regulation and expansion of the Concession — Small Sword Revolution and the French Concession

Foreigners took advantage of the time that the local government was busy fighting against the rebels and didn’t have timer to spare for the right of land. During the war, the land ownership of the concession was gradually shifted to the foreigners from Chinese, and the area of the concession was larger and larger by modifying the land regulation. These were the Land Regulation in 1845 and 1854.

The First edition of Land Regulation was in 1845 signed by Shanghai chief executive and British consul George Balfour. There were 23 ordinances.[1] It basically has five topics: First, Demarcation. The first designated area was relatively small. The south boundary was Yangjingbin, while the north was Lijiachang. East was the Huangpu river, and west was Barrier Road. Secondly, the land lease should decriminalize by the Daoqi (which will be introduced in narrative 3). The annual rent and deposit money should hold by the lesser. The tenant could lease the land forever while the Chinese owner couldn’t take the liberty of stopping lend. Thirdly, Foreign merchants could manage the concession by simple infrastructure in some ways (which showed in the following ordinance).



———— 章程第十二条[1]

Fourthly, the British took the responsibility to administer other countries. Last but not least, Chinese and foreigners should live separately. This was the part that manifested the government’s consideration most clearly. The concession houses were not allowed to lend to the Chinese, and besides the necessities, commodity transactions between Chinese and foreigners were not allowed. In this regulation, the Chinese government still take control of the land jurisdiction and executive authority of the concession, and there was a lot of limitation to restrict the foreigners. Therefore, in the following few years, the concession didn’t develop well as Maybon described “The concession looks like suburbs of a small town, gloomy and dirty.” [2]

In 1853, the Small Sword revolution changed the circumstance of the concession. Foreigners constructed roads and armed themselves as an excuse to protect from the rebels. The French government created a military avenue from Shanghai county’s west gate to the Catholic cathedral in the concession. [3]. On July 8th, 1854, British consul Alcock, American consul Murphy and French consul Edan signed the second version of the Land Regulation. This version was notified to the Chinese government as an established regulation. In the 1854 land regulation, the designated area was three times larger than the one in 1845. The deposit money was canceled, which change the leased property to seal. What’s more, the executive committee was set as the government independent from the Chinese government. Under this term, the tax was also controlled by the Foreign government. From Alcock’s perspective, it was severely needed to defend from the Small Sword. Since refugees fled into the concession, the separate living pattern was also legally broken, and the executive committee even had the right to levy from the Chinese.

Although the foreigners had the invaded intention since 1845 and further intensified in the 1860s, the Small Sword revolution provided them an excuse by accident. To some extent, the small sword revolution had a significant effect on the concession’s extension and land regulation.


The map showing the expansion of the concession[4]


[1] Lu, Hanchao. “上海土地章程“研究. 1984.上海史研究. Shanghai: Xuelin Publisher.

[2] Charles B. Maybon, Jean Fredet. Translated by Ni Jinglan. 1983. 上海法租界史. Shanghai:  Shanghai translation Press.

[3] Shanghai Luwan District CPC Committee Party History Research Office. 1994. 老话上海法租界. Shanghai:Shanghai People Press.

[4] Liu, Huiwu. 1985. 上海近代史. Shanghai: East China Normal University Press.


1 Comment on “[Narrative 2] The Land Regulation and expansion of the Concession — Small Sword Revolution and the French Concession

  1. It is interesting that the Small Sword revolution which is usually neglected as a failure and lasted for only about a year, had such a huge blow to the Qing government. Together with the Taiping Heavenly Kingdom, it had a huge impact on the most fertile region in the Jiangnan region of the Qing Government. And it is ironic that this revolution turned the Qing Government and the foreign invaders into an alliance. But I wonder why the Taiping Kingdom, did not provide assistance to the Small Sword Association, which lead to the consequence that the small sword Association was isolated in Shanghai and could not break through the blockade of the Qing Army. Another effect of Small Sward Revolution that worth noticing is that a large number of refugees from Shanghai county and the surrounding countryside flooded into the concession. The explosive growth of the population in the concession also made it the first time for the concession to have “Mixed Chinese and Foreign settlements”(华洋杂居)

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