Tang Peisong (汤佩松) was born in 1903 in Xishui County, Hubei Province, an important town for southern China’s commerce, to a well-to-do family that had generations of businessmen and literati. His father, Tang Hualong (汤化龙), was an influential reformer and official, rising to the posts of education minister and interior minister of the Republic of China in the 1910s. Unfortunately, Tang Hualong was assassinated in Victoria, Canada in 1918.
In 1917, Tang entered the polytechnic Qinghua University, which was established with funds from the Boxer Indemnity. Tang not only excelled in academic work there, but also became a well-known athlete for the university. Parts of the Boxer Indemnity were also mandated to send Chinese men and women, selected by competitive examination, to the United States for higher education. In 1925, Tang was selected to take advantage of the Boxer Funds to study at the University of Minnesota. When Tang was departing for the US, his father’s close friend, the prominent reformist Liang Qichao (梁启超) wrote a poem in the traditional form of ci to express his hope that Tang would carry out his father’s dream of reviving China through his own passion: science.