In The Chinese Government, W. F. Mayer discusses the position of Taot'ai (Daotai) on page 36, para 280, of the chapter about Provincial Government. In the 18 provinces of China at the time Mayer wrote, 1897, there were “84 Circuits in China proper, the largest number, 10, being in Kansuh.” At the reading, I also mentioned that number of Circuits in any province probably varied with geography and population.
As one illustration, the notes for the book say that “at the time of the novel (1860) there were 84 circuits in China’s 18 provinces [actually in 1897; Mayer, The Chinese Government, p. 36-7].
In the circuit assigned to Wu Hsü [the "Shanghai taotai" in 1860], there were two prefectures and one department, and these comprised most if not all of the strategically critical eastern corner of Kiangsu Province, from Soochow north through Taitsang to the Yangtze River, and from Soochow west through Sungkiang to the coast.
In the northern part of this circuit, the department of Taitsang 太倉州, containing three counties, reported directly to the provincial government.
In the southwestern part of the circuit was the prefecture of Soochow 蘇州府, with three subordinate counties, and the city of Soochow as its prefectural seat.
In the western section of the circuit was the prefecture of Sungkiang 松江府, with two counties, one of which was Shanghai county 上海縣, with the city of Sungkiang as prefectural seat.
Can anyone confirm this information about the number and distribution of circuits in China during the Qing, or refine the estimate I have from Mayer? The number of serving taotais nust have varied dramatically. I have not yet come across any treatment of the circuit intendant (taotai) nearly as thorough as Watts studies of the district magistrate (Watt, John R., The District Magistrate in Late Imperial China, Columbia Univ Press, New York, 1972; Watt, John, “Ching Emperors and District Magistrates,” Ch'ing-shih Wen-t'i [Late imperial China] I-8, John Hopkins Press, Albany, May 1968; and other titles)
My copy of The Chinese Government by W. F. Mayer (long out of print) is a reprint from Chengwen Publishing in Taiwan. This reference contains details of official positions at all levels of the Qing bureaucracy.
Edited by Meiguo Laowai, 27 June 2012 - 11:40 PM.