This article is excerpted fromBiographies of Prominent Chinesepublished in Shanghai in c.1925.
His Excellency Wang Yi-tang was born at Hofei Hsien, Anhwi Province, in 1877. He became a Metropolitan graduate during the Ching régime. In 1907 and 1908, he served as Military Councillor to His Excellency Hsu Shih-chang, who was then Viceroy of Manchuria: and for a time he was in command of troops in Fengtien Province. Later, he accompanied Minister Tai Hung-tzu to Russia to attend the coronation of the Czar. He spent two years touring European countries and America before returning to China. When in Germany, he made a study of military science. Upon his return to Peking, he passed an examination held for returned students and was then sent to Japan for higher education.
Following the outbreak of the first revolution, in 1911, General Wang, through the introduction of His Excellency Hsu Shih-chang, joined the Secretariat of General Yuan Shih-kai. When Yuan Shih-kai made terms with the southern leaders regarding the matter of cancelling the Nanking Provisional Government, General Wang was one of the four representatives at the conference which was held in Nanking. Subsequently, General Wang was made Political Councillor to President Yuan Shih-kai and was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant-General with the brevet rank of full General. In 1912, he was instrumental in organizing the Kung-ho-tang, a political party which later became a strong component of the Progressive Party.
In April 1913, when the first Parliament was convoked, General Wang became a Senator representing Tibet. He rendered valuable services in the election of General Yuan Shih-kai as formal President of the Republic in October 1913. After the dissolution of the first Parliament, a special conference was called to revise the provisional constitution: and General Wang became a member of that council, representing Anhwei Province. In May 1914, he was appointed a member of the State Council which had been created to act as the National Legislature. This post he held until August 1915, when he was appointed Civil Governor of Kirin Province. He left Kirin in April 1916, and returned to Peking because he could not agree with the military authorities of that province. In the same month, he was appointed Minister of the Interior: which post he held until the end of June 1916, just after the death of President Yuan Shih-kai.
General Wang interested himself in educational work. He succeeded in founding the Kuo Ming University and the Chung Hua University, both in Peking. In the autumn of 1916, he went to Germany and France to study military organization. However, upon his return, in April 1917, he became active in politics again. In November, 1917, a Provisional Senate was created, and General Wang was appointed President of the Senate. This Assembly drew up new laws governing the parliamental elections. After the completion of this work, General Wang became one of the organizers of the Anfu party. In August 1918, a new Parliament was convoked. General Wang was elected a member of the Lower House and eventually became Speaker of that House.
In May 1919, he was awarded the Second Order of Merit. In August 1919, General Wang was appointed Chief Northern Delegate to the Internal Peace Conference, which was called at Shanghai to settle the differences between the North and the South. In August 1920, after the Anfu Party was forced out of power, he was dismissed and ordered to be apprehended. He then made his residence in Japan, where he studied political and military science. In February 1923, a mandate was issued which cancelled the political charges against him. During the same year, he translated into Chinese the Kaiser’s Memoirs, the edition of which was published in March of the following year.
When the Chihli Party was forced out of power, in the fall of 1924, General Wang returned to China and was appointed Governor of Anhwei Province.