10th Grade New York


Between 1899 and 1901, in what became known as the Boxer Rebellion, a Chinese secret organization called the Society of the Righteous and Harmonious Fists led an uprising in northern China against foreign imperialism and associated Christian missionary activity. Western powers, including the United States, intervened and defeated Chinese forces. This inquiry investigates the multifaceted views of imperialism in China during the late 19th and early 20th centuries by investigating the compelling question “Do the Boxers deserve a bad rap?” Students consider not only the brutal events of the Boxer Rebellion in China, but also the reasons why the Boxers rebelled against foreign powers in the first place. While progressing through the inquiry, students consider the political, economic, and religious reasons for both imperialism and the Boxer Rebellion. Students then consider the actions of the Boxers and whether or not those actions might be misunderstood.


Compelling Question:

Do the Boxers Deserve a Bad Rap?

Staging the Question:

Analyze a Harper’s Weekly political cartoon and discuss who students think the Boxers were and how people in the United States viewed them.

Supporting Question How did the Opium Wars create foreign influence in China and how did the Chinese react?

Formative Task Write 2–3 sentences describing how the Opium Wars created foreign influences in China and the Chinese reactions.

Sources Source A: Excerpt from “The Opium War and Foreign Encroachment”
Source B: Excerpt from The Boxer Rebellion and the Great Game in China*


Supporting Question What were the goals and consequences of Christian missions in China and why did the Boxers object?

Formative Task Write a paragraph explaining the goals of Christian missionaries in China and describing the Boxers’ perspective on these missions.

Sources Source A: “American Missionaries in China”
Source B: Letter from Hua-Cheng Kwei to the Holy Union Mission in Sweden.


Supporting Question What happened during the Boxer Rebellion?

Formative Task Create a two-column chart that explains the events of the Boxer Rebellion through the perspectives described in the featured sources.

Sources Source A: Excerpt from Fei Ch'i-hao’s account of the Boxer Rebellion
Source B: Excerpt from Luella Minor’s account of the Boxer Rebellion


Supporting Question To what extent were the Boxers misunderstood?

Formative Task Develop a claim supported by evidence that explains to what extent the Boxers were misunderstood.

Sources Source A: Excerpt from “Remembering the Boxer Uprising: A Righteous Fist”
Source B: Excerpt from “The Open Door Policy and the Boxer War: The US and China”
Source C: Excerpt from “The Boxer Rebellion”

Summative Performance Task

Argument: Do the Boxers deserve a bad rap? Construct an argument (e.g., detailed outline, poster, essay) that addresses the compelling question using specific claims and relevant evidence from historical sources while acknowledging competing perspectives.
Extension: Create textbook entries that express how the Boxer Rebellion should be represented in textbooks.

Taking Informed Action

Understand: Research China’s recent ventures with imperialism in Africa.
Assess: Weigh the benefits and consequences of these actions for China, Africa, and the United States.
Act: Write an op-ed piece that brings awareness to the issue and use evidence to make claims that support or criticize China’s actions.