The Hong Men
Chi Kung Tong

The symbol of the hongmen

The hongmen, or Chinese freemasons as they have been called, were a secret society dedicated to the overthrown of the Manchu dynasty in China, and the reestablishment of the Ming. The Chi Kung Tong was one of five factions of the hongmen set up in different cities. Each of these factions helped raise money through gambling, brothels and opium sales to fund the fight back in China2.

This was not all that the Chi Kung Tong did however. They were also a benevolent society, providing a social welfare system for Chinese miner that did not have family connections in North America. It was a tong in the traditional sense, in that is was a place for meeting and conducting business. It helped members settle disputes with other groups, provided a place for members to room, and helped recreate the traditional Chinese institutions left behind on immigration82. It remained mostly subversive until 1904, when Dr. Sun-Yat-Sen helped convert the Chi Kung Tong into an openly revolutionary party3.

By joining the association, it was less likely that you would return to China, where membership in the Hongmen equaled death if your membership discovered. As a result, the Chi Kung Tong was truly a secret society, with 36 sworn oaths, secret greeting rituals, and codewords. Older members recruited younger members that felt the fire for revolutionary change in China8.