Outer Mongolia declares independence

This Week in History: Outer Mongolia Declares Independence
Readers of pulp fiction sought escape, romance, and adventure, and the authors who wrote for the magazines of the 1930s and 1940s never hesitated to provide all they could by way of exotic locations, exciting plots, and the thrill of danger.
One such exotic setting was Outer Mongolia, now Mongolia. Outer Mongolia was going through its own dangerous adventure as it declared independence from China on March 13th, 1921.
Originally part of the Mongol Empire, after the fall of Genghis Khan in the thirteenth century, Outer Mongolia became part of one of the four Khanates, or kingdoms, into which his empire was split. Under Kublai Khan that Khanate, incorporating China, became the Yuan Dynasty; but a century later when the Yuan gave way to the Ming, predations by the Chinese army were repulsed by the Mongols.
From that point on, power would pass back and forth between Chinese and Mongolian rulers in violent confrontations over the next several centuries. At the end of the seventeenth century, however, the Qing dynasty brought all of Mongolia under its rule, and it would remain so until 1911, with Outer Mongolia being granted relative autonomy. There was also considerable interaction with Russia.
But by 1911, Chinese rule had become onerous. Taxes were collected in silver, which Mongolians had to borrow from Chinese merchants. Those loans were repaid in livestock, which reduced the herds on which the nomadic people depended for survival. Other measures proved troublesome, including a change in policy that allowed Chinese settlers to move into Outer Mongolia, and the culture began to be diluted.
The final straw came in the form of a new viceroy to enforce new Chinese regulations. In his wake came a Chinese military officer with the mandate to form a Mongolian army. Mongolians saw this as a threat to their survival as a people and, declaring their independence from China, sought help from Russia. However, “help” resulted in Mongolia becoming a Russian protectorate after considerable hostilities, and then during WWI China sought to regain its former territory. The effort was boosted by the Russian Revolution, when Russia became too preoccupied with its own internal struggles to focus on Mongolia.
While the struggle was by no means over, White Russians helped Mongolia after the Russian Revolution of 1917, and with its drive for independence heightened by China’s attempts to revoke the country’s autonomy once again at last resulted in Outer Mongolia declaring its independence from China on March 13, 1921.
Among the authors able to use the isolation and nomadic existence of Mongolia, as well as the danger of its primitive lifestyle and troubled political situation, were Harold Lamb and L. Ron Hubbard. Lamb relied heavily on both Russian and Asian characters for many of the tales he penned for Adventure magazine, and his plots often took those characters across the steppes of Mongolia to live by their wits and their weapons.
L. Ron Hubbard also pulled from the drama of the steppes for his story The Trail of the Red Diamonds, in which the lure of illicit treasure proves too much for the hero—who nearly trades his life for the lure of the priceless stones of the title.
IMAGE CAPTION (top): Genghis Khan and Toghrul Khan. Illustration from a 15th century Jami’ al-tawarikh manuscript.
An image of an early 20th century caravan, traveling on horseback.
Golden Age History Inspired By: The Trail of the Red Diamonds by L. Ron Hubbard.

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