||This dissertation provides new insight into how the Chinese literati approach the issue of adapting Confucian classical scholarship for the purpose of governance and statesmanship in a time of social and political transformation. I do so by a close investigation of the political thoughts of Zeng Guofan, Luo Zenan, Liu Rong and Guo Songtao, all of whom were Hunan scholar officials as well as key players in the Xiang Army. I set my discussion of the key concepts and their implementation in concrete historical situations against the background of the ideal of Jingshi (ordering the world) among the mid-19th century intellectuals in particular and the Confucianism tradition in general. My study reveals that both Liu and Luo resorted to Neo-Confucianism to prepare their political careers. Zeng, on the other hand, advocated the learning of Li (institution and ritual), a synthesis of Neo-Confucianism and Han Learning as well as canonical scholarship and historical study, to fully mobilize traditional resources of Jingshi. Guo later applied Zeng's ideas to the sphere of foreign affairs. His promotion of equal-based diplomacy had its classical basis in Zhu Xi and Wang Fuzhi's interpretation of 'cherishing man fiom afar.' And he viewed the international law as current manifestation of the Guest Li of the three dynasties. Generally, the rise of Hunan Neo-Confucians saw an integration of moral leadership stressed by Neo-Confucianism with good command of classics and the empirical approach towards secular matters by Han Learning. Therefore they not only upheld the intrinsic values of Confucianism, but also explored the instrumental rationality to solve the urgent problems. Their achievements suggest that to overcome the hardship from both within and without, a fine balance must be maintained between moral idealism and political pragmatism. In this process, traditional values can be selected and transformed to serve political activism. Being the first monograph on this subject, this dissertation makes use of many source materials that have never been systematically studied before, including rare collections. On the methodological level, my approach is multi-disciplinary incorporating institutional, social cultural, and diplomatic historical analyses.