Joseph Gallieni: Pacifying Tonkin and Providing the Base for Imperial Success in French Indochina
French presence in Indochina can be traced back as far as the 16th century when European missionaries first traveled to South East Asia. The formal colonization effort began with the protectorate of Cambodia in 1863 and came to completion with the pacification of Tonkin in 1894. The path to achieving colonial rule was characterized by constant opposition from competing Chinese forces who had cultural and economic advantages over the foreign European power. This thesis examines the pivotal role of the French colonel Joseph Gallieni in Tonkin from his arrival in 1892 to his departure in 1896 by studying his accounts in both the French Sudan and French Indochina. To complement Gallieni’s experience, I will also utilize travel and geography journal publications that aid in understanding the wealth of the colony as well as political publications describing the benefits and concerns with colonization. Through this research I attempt to establish that Gallieni’s previous experience in other French colonies and his strategic incorporation of native populations allowed for his success in acquiring a region rich in political and economic significance. It was with this victory that France established a foundation firm enough to continue expansion in Indochina.