According to the Ssu-ma Ch’ien, Records of the Historian, Kao-tsu was the founder of the Han dynasty. Before his death he was known as Liu Chi and was only given the name Kao-tsu after his death. Kao-tsu is famous for being one of the only emperors in China to have hailed from a humble beginning making his way to the position of an emperor. It is recorded that he spent part of his life as a youth being a peasant, however his position as a peasant did not deter him from acquiring some significant education and perhaps this contributed much to the decisions he made as the emperor. Afterwards he was able to manage the position of a low-ranking official under the Chi’in dynasty. Kao-tsu was loved a lot and was able to command following due his ability to relate to the common people with respect to his childhood and his ability to be forgiving and considerate. Mostly such a leader gains following due to love which ensures a much stronger rule than following characterized by fear.
Before founding the Han dynasty Kao-tsu’s path may be characterized as one of fate but the decisions he made also became materialistic in ensuring that he had a significant following. For instance his decision of becoming a bandit after being abandoned by labors that he was responsible for got him backing because at this time most laborers were discontent of the Chi’in’s dynasty that they considered ruthless. Having such backing enabled him to form alliance with Hsiang YÃ¼ who hailed from a family famously known for producing one of the best military commanders. Historically it was important for a person wanting to establish dynasty to have significant backing from the masses. Although Kao-tsu might have been oblivious of the opportunities that may present themselves in future, it was apparent that the decisions he made were prudent. Kao-tsu became a man of people. During his quest for power his major hurdle came in the form of Hsiang YÃ¼, who apparently had the same aspirations. One major aspect that enabled Kao-tsu to achieve his dreams was that he was mindful of the common people and as such he was able to appeal to the masses. He could be compared to a leader such as Adolf Hitler who was loved by people so much because of the fact that they were able to identify with him. Previous leaders including Chi’in and Hsiang YÃ¼, ruled by an iron fist and they were able to wield so much power because they used fear. Although fear was used historically by leaders to ensure that people paid them allegiance it was a strategy that easily turns against the ruler in case of an uprising especially if the same ruler was considered ruthless. Kao-tsu was also forgiving and considerate; therefore he was able to gather significant following from people who loved him genuinely. Kao-tsu eventually was able to conquer Chi’in’s dynasty after he took over his capital and it is recorded that his rule began in 207 after his army occupied the capital.
The next challenge that faced Kao-tsu was consolidating his rule and ensuring that he did not lose favor with the people like the previous emperor. He was particularly aware of the cruelty and insensitivity that contributed to fall down of Chi’in. His first move was to do away with the rules that were hated by people. However, he did this wisely and carefully to avoid the people considering him as weak. Although some of the laws he placed like for instance the one that required that were to be killed and thieves punished in accordance to their offense were not particularly soft at least the people could discern the logic behind the laws. Kao-tsu was also able to surround himself with people who were sincerely loyal to him .therefore ensuring that there was no possibility of opposition arising from within. Furthermore he knew people in an amazing way and knew which people to place at what positions to ensure that their output was optimized and that they remained faithful to him. His advisers and generals not only loved him but also felt comfortable undertaking their respective duties. Kao-tsu was also able to consolidate his rule by avoiding direct dispute with the generals who by the time of his conquest had taken advantage of the feudal system and considered themselves kings of the areas under their jurisdiction. These Kings could have been particularly dangerous if they felt that Kao-tsu was trying to do away with them. This is because they would have formed an alliance against him. On the contrary Kao-tsu took his time to gain allegiance from these Kings after that he started eliminating them one by one to ensure that no suspicions were directed to him. These earlier systems of rule placed the emperor at a precarious position because they were responsible for almost half of the empire. Kao-tsu was also very careful not to do away with the feudal system because he knew it was always the source of fall out between emperors and the people. He was however able to ensure that the Kings would always pay allegiance to the King by passing the rule that only members of the royal family could be kings.
Kao-tsu consolidated his dynasty due to his considerate nature as a person to the welfare and his ability to prevent opposition both from within and without his government prudently.