Soong May-ling

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Soong May-ling or Soong Mei-ling, also known as Madame Chiang Kai-shek (traditional Chinese: 宋美齡; simplified Chinese: 宋美龄; pinyin: Sòng Měilíng; March 5, 1898[1] – October 23, 2003) was a First Lady of the Republic of China (ROC), the wife of former President Chiang Kai-shek (蔣中正 / 蔣介石). She was a politician and painter. The youngest and the last surviving of the three Soong sisters, she played a prominent role in the politics of the Republic of China and was the sister in law of the leader of the Republic of China preceding her husband, Sun Yat-Sen.

Contents

Childhood

She was born in Hongkou District, Shanghai, China, on March 5, 1898, but some biographies use the year 1897 because Chinese tradition considers everyone to be one year old at birth.[3] She was the third of six children of Charlie Soong, a Hainanese Chinese Methodist minister and businessman. Her siblings were: Oldest sister Ai-ling, middle sister Ching-ling, May-ling herself, then her brothers T. V., T.L., and last T.A.

In Shanghai, May-ling attended the McTyeire School for Girls with her sister, Ching-ling, before their father arranged to have them further their education in the United States in 1907. Initially, May-ling and Ching-ling were attending a private school in Summit, New Jersey. In 1908, Ching-ling was accepted by her sister Ai-ling's alma mater, Wesleyan College, at the age of 15 and the two sisters moved to Macon, Georgia, to join Ai-ling. However, the problem arose that May-ling could neither gain permission to stay with her sister on campus as a family member nor could she gain acceptance as a student due to her young age. May-ling spent the subsequent year in Demorest, Georgia, with the family of Ai-ling's Wesleyan friend, Blanche Moss. Mrs. Moss took care of May-ling and enrolled her as an 8th grader at the Piedmont College. A year later, in 1909, Wesleyan's newly appointed president, William Newman Ainsworth, gave May-ling special permission to stay at Wesleyan and assigned her special tutors. May-ling was officially registered as a freshman at Wesleyan in 1912 at the age of 15. She then transferred to Wellesley College a year later to be closer to her older brother, T.V., who, at the time, was studying at Harvard. By then both her sisters had graduated and returned to Shanghai. She graduated from Wellesley as one of the 33 Durant Scholars on June 19, 1917, with a major in English literature and minor in philosophy. As a result of being educated in English all her life, she spoke excellent English, with a pronounced Georgia accent which helped her connect with American audiences.[4]

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