What Caused the Taiping Rebellion?

The Taiping Rebellion was a large civil war that took place between 1850 and 1864 in southern China, and it began when Hong Xiuquan announced that, according to visions he had received, he was Jesus' younger brother and had been called to overthrow the Qing Dynasty. During the course of 14 years, more than 20 million people died, mostly civilians.

Hong Xiuquan was frustrated in his early attempts to join the scholarly elite in China, as he failed the imperial examinations on multiple occasions. After suffering a long illness, he emerged claiming that he had seen a vision that showed him his mission: to get the "devils" out of China. It turned out that the "devils" were the philosophical teachings of Confucius and the corrupt Manchu rulers of the Qing Dynasty. He began spreading his views about Christianity and fighting Manchu rule, advised by American Baptist clergyman Issachar Jacox Roberts. His sect grew in power throughout the late 1840s, first by controlling groups of pirates and bandits, and when the Qing authorities began persecuting members, the movement grew into a guerrilla uprising and then into a wider civil war that first broke out in the Guangxi province. When the rebellion was at its height, Hong's Taiping Heavenly Kingdom held much of southern China, with more than 30 million people in its borders.