Stories from History: You Cannot Compare With Xiao He

Yi Dou

PureInsight | July 30, 2007

[] The success
of the reign of Emperor Liu Bang in the Han Dynasty was because his
subordinates gave great contributions. Xiao He was one of the most
outstanding ones.

When the emperor of Qin lost the support of the people, many warlords
emerged. Liu Bang attacked and took the capital city Xian Yang first.
While other people were rushing into the treasuries for gold and silk,
only Xiao He collected legal documents, geographical and household
records. Later on, when Liu Bang and Xiang Yu were fighting for the
throne, Liu Bang learned the arrangements of gates, populations,
strengths and weaknesses of different places, which were all gleaned
from the documents kept by Xiao He.

Han Xin, who was born in Huan Yin, was a rare talent. However, he was
not put in an important position by Liu Bang. He decided to seek a
greener pasture. When Xiao He heard that Han Xin left, he went to chase
Han immediately. With Xiao He's recommendation and advice, Liu Ban
promoted Han Xin to General of the Army. Since then Liu Bang won
continuously and eventually defeated Xiang Yu.

When the country was united, Liu Bang granted rewards to his
subordinates accordingly. Since Xiao He got the most awards, some
officials were complaining: "We had been wearing armor and carrying
weapons and fighting with enemies despite the danger to our lives. Xiao
He has never been to the front line and just played on words. Why did
he get more rewards than us?" Liu Bang said: "In hunting, the hunting
dogs are rewarded because they chase the targets. But the one who knows
where the targets are contributes more, so you can not compare with
Xiao He."

(From Shi Ji or The Records of the Grand Historian)

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