The Drugging of a Nation: The Story of China and the Opium Curse



NOTE: These chapters were originally published during 1907 and 1908 in Success Magazine in New York, and as a book published by the Fleming H. Revell Company, New York.

Though frankly journalistic in tone, the book presents something more than the hasty conclusions of a journalist. 

During its preparation the author travelled around the world, inquiring into the problem at first hand in China and in England, reading all available printed matter which seemed to bear in any way on the subject, and interviewing several hundred gentlemen who have had special opportunities to study the problem from various standpoints. 

The writing was not begun until this preliminary work was completed and the natural conclusions had become convictions in the author’s mind. 

Introduction and Editor’s Notes: 

This work appears to present a detailed and accurate picture of some portions of China’s opium tragedy, and is especially enlightening where filling in gaps relating to the position of Great Britain and its dealing with both India (where the opium was produced) and China (where it was sold). 

The author, Mr. Merwin, presents much evidence of having been a genuine and compassionate human being, as well as an intelligent individual not blinded to the evils of commerce and unrestrained capitalism. 

He presents a compelling narrative of the strength of both the Chinese government and the Chinese people in having the ability to extricate themselves from a position of incomparable difficulty, a challenge many other nations might well have failed to surmount. 

It is a tribute to the Chinese people, and a recommendation as to their culture and form of government, that China triumphed not only against the opium and semi-colonisation by the then Western powers, but against the later Japanese invasion and atrocities, and to rebuild itself and take its place again among the world’s primary nations. 

It is interesting to note that the US government had passed stringent laws prohibiting any Americans from taking any part in the opium traffic, but that Delano, the father in law of US president Roosevelt, was one of the main shippers of this drug. Other Americans, such as the Russell Company, were also involved, apparently immune to US law. 

However, Mr. Merwin does gloss over some of the important issues of the time. Being of Jewish extraction, he chooses to make no reference to the fact that the opium franchise was entirely in Jewish hands, with David Sassoon having been granted the exclusive opium franchise for China by Queen Victoria herself. 

He also neglects to enlighten his readers on the fact that the British East India Company was largely owned and controlled by the Jewish Rothschild interests, and it was they who were growing the opium in India while the Sassons were selling it in China. 

Instead, Mr. Merwin follows the standard narrative of attributing both activity and ‘blame’ to Great Britain and to ‘Englishmen’ and ‘English businessmen’, and to the ‘British Government’ in India, without specifying the details involved. 

We found it interesting that Wikipedia (also Jewish-owned and operated) devotes a page to Mr. Merwin’s history and accomplishments, mentioning in passing that “In 1907 (Success) magazine sent him to China to investigate the opium trade”, but in a rather long listing of Mr. Merwin’s books and publications, this particular book seems to have been omitted. 

This sanitisation of Jewish involvement in many parts of China’s history is distressingly common, as are the even more frequent re-writings of that history to cast an entirely inaccurate light on many important events. 

We find ourselves thinking that if only Mr. Merwin had shared with us all of his knowledge, rather than selectively sanitising his narrative, his work would have been so much more valuable. Nevertheless, this book still contains much value.


H. E. Tong Shao-I – One of the Leaders of the Opium Reform Movement in China


DRUGGING A NATION – The Story of China and the Opium Curse 

A Personal Investigation, during an Extended Tour, of the Present Conditions of the Opium Trade in China and Its Effects upon the Nation; By Samuel Merwin



Mr. Long Xinming (龙信明) Founder and Editor for the,  is also one of the frequent contributors for The 4th Media.






  • H. E. Tong Shao-I
  • Making Opium Cakes
  • Making Cakes of Opium
  • The Opium Hulks of Shanghai
  • An Opium Ship at Shanghai
  • Villages as Heaps of Ruins
  • An opium beggar
  • Wreck and Ruin in China
  • Enforcing the Edict at Shanghai
  • In an Opium Den, Shanghai
  • Opium-smoking
  • Weighing Opium in India
  • Opium Travels to the US

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