Mao Zedong (Pinyin transcription) or Mao Tse-tung (Wade-Giles transcription) is considered one of the greatest political leader of the twentieth century. To millions of Chinese, especially during the Cultural Revolution, he was the "Great Helmsman." (Ch'en 1969 ) To many foreigners, Mao seemed to be the last hope for a new society and world. Thousands of students around the world who believed in Mao and China called themselves "maoists."
Mao Zedong was born on December 26, 1883 in Shaoshan, a village in Xiangtan County, Hunan Province. Mao is actually the last name and Zedong is the surname. According to Chinese astrology, Mao Zedong was born in the year of the Black Snake, in the our of the green dragon. These are the signs that showed that Mao's life was destined for blood and violence and great victories alternating with humiliating compromises. (Del-Rio 1980 pg.9) Zedong grew up in a peasant family. Mao had a strict father who was harsh and demanding. Mao's mother was kind and a gentle person. Mao is the first son and he has two brothers and an adopted sister.
As a young boy growing up, he had a passion for education, literature and philosophy. Mao preferred to read novels of romance and rebellions. (Ch'en 1969) Mao started school at age eight. His father had disapproved of Mao going to school, he wanted Mao to stay home and learn to do the home chores and the family business. His father had agree for Mao to go to school to only learn about the Confucian Classics. Mao's father wanted Mao's knowledge in education to go toward the family and the business. Since Mao was a young rebel, he was unwilling to accept his father's orders. He didn't want to keep accounts for his father or be an apprentice in a rice shop.
Mao enrolled in the Republican army and served for about six months. When he left the army, he enrolled in a Teacher Training College. He became a teacher at an enlightened school. Mao was a leading figure, he was active in student affairs and corresponding with students at other colleges. He was particularly interested in political concerns. (Ch'en 1969) Mao had helped to found the New People's Study Society in 1918. The purpose of this group organization was to reform China and the World. (Ch'en 1969) This obviously didn't happen so quickly for Mao yet.
In May 1918, Mao received his degree. mao took a job as assistant librarian in the University Library. The chief librarian was Li Dazhou. Dazhou was a leading Marxist who had welcomed the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia. Having to work with Dazhou and later became friends with, Mao became really interested in Marxism.
In October 1919, Mao's mother died of tonsillitis. A year later, his father died also of typhoid. By this time, Mao had been appointed Headmaster of the school. Mao married his first wife, Kaihui Yang. They had two sons together. In 1921, Mao is by this time, a convinced Marxist. He begins to organized a Changsha communist party and recruits students for a Socialist Youth Corps. A comitern wanted a national party which consist of two delegates from each of the six communist groups. Communism is a system of government in which goods and productions are commonly owned; the theory of social change and struggle toward communism through revolution. (dictionary) Mao chosen to be one of the delegates to attend the national party. The Central Committee of the Communists Party (CCP) had voted to join with the Kuomingtang (K.M.T) which was Sun Yat-sen's nationalist party. Mao did not approved of this decision.