This article is excerpted from Biographies of Prominent Chinese, published in Shanghai in c.1925.
His excellency Feng Kuo-chang, third President of the Republic of China, who left office in October 1918, was born in the province of Chihli, in 1866. He died in the winter of 1919. In his youth, he studied in a military college in Tenstsin.
When the late President Yuan Shih-kai trained new troops, along modern lines, at Shiao-chan, after the Boxer uprising, General Feng was one of his three able assistants, the other two being General Wang Shih-chen and Marshal Tuan Chi-jui. He received much of his military experience with General Yuan Shih-kai, whose ability he highly respected.
In January 1906, General Feng was appointed Director of the Noble’s College, with the rank of Deputy Lieutenant-General. Six months later, he was promoted to be the Director of the Military Council, in the Board of War, at the time that his patron, Yuan Shih-kai, was in control of the government. In August 1909, General Feng was appointed Director-in-Chief of the General Staff.
During the first revolution, General Feng acquired much merit by defeating the independence forces in several engagements. In command of the First Imperial Army at Wuchang, he succeeded in re-capturing Hanyang, a strategic point near Hankow, from the revolutionists, on November 27th, 1911—a memorable day for him. For this victory, he was rewarded, by the Manchu Court, with the rank of Baron of the Second Class. Subsequently, General Feng was recalled to Peking, and nominated Commandant of the Imperial Guard,–which was considered a high promotion.
In December 1911, General Feng was sent to Chahar as Lieutenant Governor of the Special Adminstrative Area. Upon the establishment of the Republic, he was recalled to Peking and appointed Chief of the President’s Military Council. Later he was given the position of Tutuh (Military Governor) of the province of Chihli. This appointment was gazetted on September 11th, 1912, together with an order for him to retain the post of Commandant of the Gendarmerie, or Imperial Guard. On July 23rd, 1913, General Feng was appointed Commissioner of Pacification in Central China. While holding this office, he participated in the suppression of the second revolution, which lasted from July to August; and he was present when Nanking was recaptured from the southern forces under the command of General Wang Hsin, one of the most well known revolutionary leaders at the time. After the suppression of the revolution, General Feng was appointed Military Governor of Kiangsu, with headquarters at Nanking. In 1914, he was given the rank of Field-Marshal. Later, he acted as Chief of the General Staff, during his visit in Peking. In December 1915, he was created Duke of the First Order, by President Yuan Shih-kai, when the latter attempted to make himself Emperor.
After the death of President Yuan Shih-kai, General Feng was elected Vice-President of the Republic, upon the assumption of the office of President by General Li Yuan-hung, the incumbent Vice-President. Upon the resignation of General Li Yuan-hung from the Presidency, during General Chang Hsun’s monarchical movement, in July 1917, General Feng became President, according to the Constitution.
His presidential term expired in October 1918, when he was succeeded by His Excellency Hsu shih-chang.