An analysis of the writings of Kuang Qizhao, a Qing official who spent time in the U.S. from 1874 through 1882, indicates that the initial stimulus for China’s educational reforms began much earlier than 1895. Based on his observations of schools and his interactions with the intelligentsia of Connecticut, Kuang came to the radical conclusion that universal education for both males and females would be the key to China’s wealth and power. He also believed that religion and tradition were crucial for inculcating the morality he saw as necessary for an effective modern society. Kuang played a role in establishing some of China’s first colleges; he promoted his educational reform ideas through his textbooks and newspapers; and he influenced some of China’s most important educational reformers, with Qing official Zhang Zhidong initiating significant educational and military reforms based on Kuang’s ideas.

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