October 31, 2003 by

Madame Chiang Kai-shek

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Categories: Politicians

Madame Chiang Kai-shek, the “eternal first lady” of Taiwan, died in her sleep on Oct. 23. She was 105.
Born Soong Mei-Ling, she was the youngest of three daughters known for their beauty and fine marriages. The eldest daughter, Ai-Ling, married finance minister H.H. Kung. Ching-Ling wed Sun Yat-sen, the leader of the Nationalist revolution that overthrew China’s last emperor in 1911. Educated in America, Mei-Ling graduated with honors from Wellesley College then returned to China to marry Chiang Kai-shek, a top military man.
One of the world’s most famous couples, Madame and President Chiang Kai-shek had a tumultuous marriage. Chiang cheated on her numerous times; Mei-Ling gave him no children. Still, Time Magazine named them the “Man and Woman of the Year” in 1937.
In 1943, Madame Chiang became the first Chinese national, and the second woman, to address a joint session of the U.S. House and Senate. Her efforts convinced America to send millions in aid to China to pay for its war with Japan.
Six years later, the Communists forced the couple into exile in Taiwan. Chiang Kai-shek became Taiwan’s ruthless leader, and Mei-Ling presided by his side as the grande dame of Nationalist politics.
Despite their personal differences, she continued to serve as her husband’s diplomatic force until he died in 1975. The government’s leadership then passed to Chiang Ching-kuo, one of his two sons by a previous marriage, and Madame Chiang’s influence quickly faded. She spent the rest of her life living in New York City.

One Response to Madame Chiang Kai-shek

  1. Geoff brandner

    Madame was a great patriot who helped the U. S. stand up to the Chinese Communists. We certainly could use her steadfastness today to our advantage.

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