Stories from History: The Honorable Tang Wenzheng was an Honest and Upright Official


Tang Bin (1627-1687 A.D.) was from Sui County of Henan Province in the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911 A.D.).

He passed the Imperial Civil Service Examination in the ninth year of the reign of Emperor Shunzhi and became a Jinshi (metropolitan graduate).

He assumed many official posts including Shanxi Tongguan Dao (district magistrate), Jiangxi Lingbei Dao, the Governor of Jiangsu, Minister of Rites, and Minister of Works.

His posthumous title is Wenzheng. He is well known in history for his honesty and uprightness.

In the twelfth year of the reign of Emperor Shunzhi, Tang Bin went to take the office of Shanxi Tongguan Dao.

In order not to disturb the people, he bought three mules, one for carrying his worn-out bedding and a bamboo bookcase, two for carrying him and his servant.

Upon arriving at Tongguan, Tang Bin revealed his identity to the supervisor of the guards. The supervisor was not convinced by the poor appearance of Tang Bin and his luggage and said bluntly, “You don’t smell like an official even if you were cooked up in a pot.”

When Tang Bin was the Governor of Jiangsu Province, even his wife and son were dressed in rough clothes. He had very little luggage and looked like a poor scholar. Their everyday dishes had nothing but some vegetables.

When Tao Bin left Jiangsu, the only thing from Jiangsu added into his luggage was a set of The History of the Twenty-One Dynasties that he had bought.

Tao Bin told the officials who came to see him off about this set of book, “It’s cheaper in Jiangsu, that’s why I bought it here. Too bad it’ll add some burden for the horse.” When his wife was carried out in a covered sedan, some worn-out cotton fiber fell to the ground. People saw this and were all moved to tears.

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