Historical data documented by Ly Phuoc Khoa Nam. It is very difficult to understand how Soc Trang Province is founded without, first of all, understand how the country of the present-day Vietnam is founded. Vietnam reaches its geographically current size around the year 1757. A narrow “S”-shaped land strip of 1,650 kilometers (1,025 stature miles) long, and it, perhaps, inevitably divides into three major regions – northern, central and southern. It is ruled by different kingdoms and rival factions over its long and complicate history – noticeably, the Vietnamese rule the northern region, the Champa Kingdom in the central, and the Khmers in the Mekong delta (southern region). In 1471, the armies of the Vietnamese Later Le Dynasty (1428-1788) conquer most of the kingdom of Champa in the central region, and this territorial expansion keeps pushing further to the south, which eventually leads to capturing the Khmer territory of Mekong delta. One of the most historically important and long separations in the history of Vietnam begins in the year 1620 when the noble Nguyen Family (1558-1778) ruling in the central and south, and the Trinh Family (1539-1787) ruling in the north, nurture feuding governments. Years of civil conflicts and unrests finally result in a relatively stable period of re-unification, beginning in 1802, when the military ruler Nguyen Anh (1762-1820) proclaims himself as emperor under the royal name of Gia Long (this name signifies the unification of the southern capital city Gia Dinh (today’s Sai Gon) and the northern capital city Thang Long (today’s Ha Noi). Nguyen Anh establishes his ruling control, and resides in Hue – the capital city of Viet Nam during this period of time. Hence, the Nguyen Dynasty (1802 – 1945), or also referred to as Hue Court, begins.
In 1658, it marks the beginning of transferring ruling power from the Chan Lap (Khmer) to the Vietnamese government under the Nguyen Family ruling era (Lord Nguyen Phuc Tan, or also known as Hien Vuong (1620-1687)), Vietnamese people from the central region migrate to the south to claim new lands in Moi Xoai (Ba Ria) and Dong Nai (Bien Hoa). Chan Lap King Ramma Thuppdey Chan (Nac Ong Chan), (the maternal grandson of Lord Nguyen Phuc Nguyen (1563-1635), or also known as the son of the Vietnamese Princess Nguyen Thi Ngoc Van and Chan Lap King Prea Chey Chetta II), is in submission (paying contribution for protection) to the Lord Nguyen Court, and has been appointed to protect the Vietnamese immigrants in his territorial jurisdiction. Ba Thac is the official name of the present-day Soc Trang during this period of time. “Ba Thac” is the name of a Khmer official, as phonetically pronounced in Chinese-transcribed Vietnamese language (the old official language of Vietnam as opposed to the present-day official Vietnamese which is an adapted version of the Latin alphabet with additional diacritics for tones). The Khmers phonetically pronounce his name as “Neak or Nea Basak”, and French calls him as “Bassac”. On the contradictory belief, he has been thought to be a prince of Laos. As of unknown reason(s) or cause(s), he happens to reside and later die in this area, and a memorial shrine has been built at this location in memory of him. This shrine is called “The Ba Thac Ancient Shrine” or phonetically pronounced in Khmer language as “Vat Luong Bassac”, and it is, in the present-day, physically located on the area along the road that leads to Tham Don of My Xuyen District. The shrine, in its original form, is built with woods in Khmer architectural style. In 1927, Mr. Le Van Quanh, a Chinese descent, and his fellow township men have donated money to re-build the shrine. It has been re-built in Chinese architectural style, with an implementation of the so-called form “half modern-half ancient”, which, in no doubt, has caused the loss of the historical authenticity or originality. Ba Thac, comprising of the present-day regions of Soc Trang and Bac Lieu, is one of the four provinces of the Chan Lap. Ba Thac is under the ruling power of a provincial governor or called “Snet Phubal” (as phonetically pronounced in Khmer language), and this high ranking official is appointed by the Highest Ministry of War of the Chan Lap government. Ba Thac comprises of five districts, and each district is controlled by a district chief or called “Krapea”. Following are the five districts of Ba Thac and their appointed chiefs: a) The first district chief, Oknha Thuk Sena, controls Tra Nho (phonetically pronounced in Khmer language as “Chui Nhua”), Tra Cuon (Prek Tra Cuon) and Bac Lieu (Po Leo) – which all these areas are known as the present-day Vinh Chau, Tra Cuon and Bac Lieu Metropolis. b) The second district chief, Oknha Thuk Sang Keam, controls Rach Goi (Prek Koi) and Bai Xau, which are known as today’s Long Phu and My Xuyen. c) The third district chief, Oknha Montrey Auchit, controls Xoai Ca Na (Sraiume or Swaichrume) and Beng Kok, which now are known as Dai Tam and Bung Coc. d) The fourth district chief, Oknha Montrey Sncha, controls Ksach, Peam Mosenn and Srok Khl’eang – which all now become the present-day Ke Sach, Dai Ngai and Soc Trang Metropolis. e) The fifth district chief, Oknha Vo Gsa Satroy, controls the areas of the Cai Giay Rivulet Mouth and Ca Mau River. In this region, there are two villages called Chau Hung and Chau Thoi, which are the present-day Thanh Tri and some vicinities of Bac Lieu. Snet Phubal controls all five districts of Ba Thac. At a later time, a Khmer king appoints a military leader called “Chauvai Srok” (phonetically pronounced in Khmer language), as an assistant to Snet Phubal, to be in charge of military personnel. Chauvai Srok is responsible for fighting against sea pirates from Malaysia and India, who repeatedly abduct Vietnamese fishermen along the coastal regions of Rach Goi, Tra Nho and Bac Lieu, and ship them out of the country. As time passing by, the appointed Chauvai Srok infringes upon the ruling authority of Snet Phubal. The Chauvai Srok, whose official name is Lam, is also known by popular every-day folks as Lim, controls the present-day Soc Trang region, and gives orders for excavating lands to make many irrigation canals – noticeably the present-day Bung Coc Canal in Phu My village and Ta Lim Canal. In 1827, Lim rebels against the ruling authority, and that stirs up a big civil instability in Bung Trop (presently located on the northwest area and about 6 kilometers (3.7 stature miles) from the Soc Trang Metropolis, or near the An Trach 3-way intersection and a little bit off to the west of the national highway connecting Soc Trang Province with Can Tho City). In April of 1840, there is a civil conflict between the Khmers and the Vietnamese. A military fort is built by the Vietnamese in Bai Xau (Srok Bai Chau), and they put up a fight against the Khmers in Mahatup (later known as Ma Toc), which belongs to Giong Hoa Duc. The Khmers get defeated in the conflict. In September of 1840, Vietnamese troops defeat the Khmers in Tra Vinh, and momentously push the cause to defeat Lim and his personnel in Soc Trang. Lim loses the fight, and then retreats to Chan Lap. The following year, in 1841, the bubonic epidemic breaks out, and that kills a lot of people in this region. In this period of time, a little child is traded for just a bucket of rice grain – measured roughly 30 kilograms (66 pounds) in mass.
In 1674, Nac Ong Non (Ang Non) inherits the heirloom from Nac Ong Chan, but his rival Prince Nac Ong Dai asks the Siamese (Thailand) Kingdom for military assistance to dethrone him from the Chan Lap Kingdom. Nac Ong Non abandons his post, and takes refuge in the palace of Thai Khanh (Khanh Hoa). He asks the Vietnamese Lord Nguyen Hien Vuong for military assistance to restore his ruling power in Chan Lap. Lord Nguyen appoints two of his military leaders, Nha Trang Renown Military Commander Nguyen Duong Lam and Nguyen Dinh Phat, independently in charge of two separate divisions that march to the south to take on Nac Ong Dai and his military personnel. This military expedition leads to the demolition of Fort Sai Gon, and then moves on to the citadel of Phnom Penh. Nac Ong Dai abandons his palace, and flees to the forest – only to die later. Nac Ong Thu surrenders to the Vietnamese authority. As determined by the royal genealogy, Nac Ong Thu is the son of the king’s first wife, so that makes him to inherit the highest office. He is selected to be the Highest King of Chan Lap, and rules in Long Uc (Long Vek). Nac Ong Non is selected to be the Second Highest King of Chan Lap, and rules in Sai Gon. Chan Lap kings are in submission to the Vietnamese Nguyen Court, and are due to pay contributions annually. From this period of time and on, as routinely and as frequently it happens in every so-many years, the Chan Lap Royal Families has been fighting among themselves for ruling power. The Nguyen Court in the central region, consequently, has been asked to intervene and to help in establishing laws and orders in the Chan Lap Kingdom. As results of such interventions and helps, the ruling Chan Lap kings are paying the Nguyen Court with lands for such favors.
In 1698, Lord Nguyen begins appointing his high ranking officials for an aggressive territorial expedition to the south, and establishes orderly local government systems that divide ruling controls into provinces, and then into districts. Gia Dinh (Sai Gon) is the most well-established city in the south, and considered densely populated, with roughly over 1,000 square miles of land for approximately 40,000 residential families. The vast majority of lands in the south are still desolate – sparsely populated.
In 1753, Chan Lap King Nac Nguyen conspires with Lord Trinh ruling in the northern region, in secretly working out a military plan to attack the Lord Nguyen ruling in the central region. The secreted plan becomes known to Vo Vuong, and he orders Dam Am Nguyen Cu Trinh to launch a pre-emptive strike. Nac Nguyen gets defeated, flees to Ha Tien, and asks Mac Thien Tu for help. In 1756, Nac Nguyen gives up his lands in Tam Bon (today’s Chau Doc) and Loi Lap (today’s region from Xoai Rap to Dong Thap Muoi) to the Nguyen Court as redemption, and also for buying ruling power.
In 1757, Nac Nguyen dies, and Nac Nhuan presumes the ruling power. He begins giving up his lands in Tra Vang (today’s Tra Vinh) and Ba Thac (today’s regions of Soc Trang and Bac Lieu) to the Nguyen Court in exchange for a “King” title and ruling control. As the result of many rounds of lands, the regions from Tra Vinh through Ba Thac and regions of Tam Phong Long, given up by Chan Lap kings to the Nguyen Court, over the period of more than half a century (1697 – 1757), the geographical shape of the then Vietnam becomes what it is today’s, and the Nguyen Court fully establishes its complete government system over the whole southern region.
In October of 1779, Nguyen Anh gives orders for drawing map of the south and dividing it into 3 regions; namely – Tran Bien (Bien Hoa), Phien Tran (Gia Dinh) and Long Ho (Vinh Long and An Giang); with good means of communication between them. Soc Trang, during this period of time, known as Ba Thac, belongs to the region of Long Ho.
In 1820, land of Ba Thac undergoes a new round of re-mapping. It belongs to the district of Vinh Dinh, and reports to the orderly higher-ups Dinh Vien and Vinh Thanh (comprises of Soc Trang Province and Can Tho City in present time). In this period of time, there are 37 villages under Dinh Vien, lands are sparsely occupied, and population is not reported.
In 1832, King Minh Mang gives new orders of re-mapping lands. A region of Ba Xuyen is created, which comprises of what known as today’s Long Xuyen, Can Tho, Soc Trang, Ha Tien, Rac Gia, Bac Lieu, Tra Vinh and Chau Doc. Hence, the land of Ba Thac has a new name as Ba Xuyen.
In 1840, according to Mr. Truong Vinh Ky – Ba Xuyen becomes a province, also known as Soc Trang by the popular every-day folks, has been formed, and comprises of 3 districts which are Phong Nhieu (Bai Xau), Phong Thanh (Nhu Gia) and Vinh Dinh (then Ba Xuyen Metropolis). The name “Soc Trang” has not been mentioned in historical data of the Nguyen Court or by many different sources of history before the year 1840. Based on the historical data provided by Mr. Truong Vinh Ky, the name “Soc Trang” has become known only since 1840.
In 1859, French troops take over Gia Dinh Citadel, and occupy this area. Hue Court (Nguyen Dynasty), under Emperor Tu Duc, signs a peace treaty that gives up 3 eastern provinces; namely – Bien Hoa, Gia Dinh and Dinh Tuong.
In 1867, French colonists violate the peace treaty by annexing 3 western provinces which are Vinh Long, An Giang and Ha Tien. They abolish existing ruling system, and go through a new round of re-mapping lands. According to the decree signed on January 5th, 1876, the French repudiate the old mapping system called “Six Provinces of the South”. They now divide the south into 4 regions with 19 districts. In this period of time, Sai Gon and Cho Lon are the two major cities, and Soc Trang is the 19th district of the south. In 1878, Soc Trang District has a population of 56,877 persons, 11 counties, 135 villages, 5 governmental institutes, 1 school and 3 markets.
In 1915, French revamp a new round of mapping of the south. They divide it into 20 provinces, 2 major cities, 1 military commanding post in Con Dao, 40 civil administrative districts, 227 counties and 2,000 villages. Hence through 1959, the district of Vinh Chau belongs to the province of Bac Lieu. Soc Trang Province, during this period of time, has its governmental system as follows: – Provincial governmental institutes locate in Soc Trang metropolitan area. – Metropolitan Population: 135,328 Vietnamese and 67 Europeans (included military personnel). – 10 counties and 92 villages combine for a population of 32,245 persons. – Local Civil Administrative Stations locate in Phu Loc, Bang Long, Dai Ngai, Bo Thao, Nhu Gia and Bai Xau.
In 1930, Soc Trang Province divides into 3 districts as listed: – Soc Trang Metropolis District supervises the counties of Nhieu Hoa, Nhieu Khanh, Nhieu My, Nhieu Phu, Thanh An and Thanh Loi. – Ke Sach District supervises the counties of Dinh Hoa, Dinh Khanh and Dinh Tuong. – Long Phu District supervises the counties of Dinh Chi, Dinh My and Dinh Phuoc.
In 1953, Soc Trang Province comprises of 5 districts which are Soc Trang Metropolis, Ke Sach, Long Phu, Lich Hoi Thuong and Thanh Tri. It combines a total population of 118,717 persons (43,674 Vietnamese, 65,565 Khmers, 9,425 Chinese, 49 Europeans and 5 Indians), and its agricultural land combines for 121,950 hectares (or roughly 301,344 acres). This temporarily concludes the historical research about my beloved hometown of Soc Trang of its major historical events from 1658 to 1953. The geopolitics of Vietnam has affected the name and the landscape of Soc Trang Province throughout these periods of time. The country of Vietnam undergoes many different ruling regimes, and has gone through a few periods of splits and re-unifications which make this historical research a difficult task. This piece of work is based on limited historical materials that I have gathered throughout the years, and by my utmost individual effort that I can garner to produce this writing in honoring my beloved hometown. Therefore, I would like to ask for your understanding for that there would certainly be any regrettable mistake(s). Please do me a favor by pointing out mistake(s) so that I can learn and to make this writing as accurate as possible. There are footnotes of references that I have used for this work, and they are listed in the Vietnamese version of this article. Editor’s Note This document is published unedited. KKF does not endorse this document. It is published with the intention of providing a different view of history. Source: http://www.soctrang-online.net/forum/index.php?act=ST&f=104&t=5422&st=0#entry29224 Vietnamese Version: http://www.soctrang-online.net/forum/index.php?showtopic=2436