Local Folks Risk Their Lives to Rescue County Commissioner
(Minghui.org) In the eighth year of the Shunzhi era (1651 AD) during the Qing Dynasty (1636 – 1912 AD), Song Bida took office as commissioner of Ningdu County, today's Jiangxi Province.
Much of the land in the county was barren and most of the people lived in poverty. Many of the residents in Qingtai and Huaide townships had migrated elsewhere. Therefore, Song asked the imperial court to waive their taxes to reduce their financial burden.
Within two years, the situation in the county improved, and all the fields were cultivated. However, heavy rains came, and the river was in danger of overflowing its banks and flooding the county.
Song, who had great respect for divine powers, prayed for the safety of the locals, and the river receded. Song then had the river dredged, and the inhabitants no longer had to worry about floods.
In the thirteenth year of the Kangxi era (1674 AD), Geng Jingzhong, a powerful military commander, rebelled against the imperial court.
Song adopted a neighborhood administrative system based on households. It was an effective hierarchical command system, passed down from earlier dynasties, to train and organize civilians for combat. He was able to defend Ningdu County from attacks by Geng's troops.
However, someone filed false accusations against Song with the top military and civilian official in the province, saying that a lot of people in Ningdu County had joined the rebels. As the top official prepared to dispatch troops to crush Song, Song wrote him a letter in blood with the facts. No troops were sent.
When the imperial court's troops headed back north after reclaiming the Tingzhou area from Geng, many women were abducted by the soldiers. One could hear their cries from a great distance. Song used his own wealth to rescue the innocent women. He wrote down their names and addresses, and saw to it that all of them were escorted back to their homes.
Farewell to His People
The supply of salt was strictly rationed, and each family had to pay a tax based on the amount of salt they received. Song asked the imperial court to allow taxes collected from salt produced in Guangdong to offset taxes collected from salt produced along the Huai River. This was a huge relief for local residents and merchants.
However, the imperial court was not happy about the reduced tax revenue generated from sales of salt from Guangdong, which was of inferior quality, and dismissed Song from office.
As the Ningdu residents saw him off with tears in their eyes, they presented him with gifts in appreciation for what he had done for them over the years. He declined to take anything.
Returning the Favor
Song headed for Nanchang, in today's Jiangxi Province, through a less traveled route. He was captured by a group of gangsters, who forced him to join them. He refused and was held in captivity.
Scores of armed men climbed over the wall one night, yelling, “Where is Lord Song? We are from Ningdu!” They rescued him. They from the county he had formerly governed. They had put their lives on the line to come to his rescue in return for his good governance.
After he passed away, Song was remembered by the people of Ningdu year-after-year.
Adapted from Documents of History of Qing Dynasty, Volume No. 476, Biography No. 263