March 3rd - On this day in 1857, Britain and France declare war on China, beginning the second Opium War that would last until 1860.
The War began when the Qing Dynasty court rejected the demands from Britain, France, and the US, which included the opening all of China to British merchants, legalising the opium trade, exempting foreign imports from internal transit duties, suppression of piracy, permission for a British ambassador to reside in Beijing and for the English-language version of all treaties to take precedence over the Chinese.
Britain declared war primarliy because of the Arrow Incident; Chinese authorities arrested the crew of the Arrow, a Chinese ship that flew the British flag, on suspicion of smuggling. The British authorities demanded their release, stating that the crew were protected under the Treaty of Nanking. The Chinese refused.
The British House of Commons on 3 March 1857 passed a resolution by 263 to 249 against the Chinese Government.
Yeah, turned out after the fact that the crew wasn’t protected under the treaty anyway, seeing as the ship’s registration had expired earlier - the Brits for the war didn’t care though, obviously.