His Majesty King Chulalongkorn the Great or Rama V was born at the Chakri dynasty's Bangkok Grand Palace in 1853. The Phra Phuttha Chao Luang or the Royal Buddha ascended to the throne after the death of King Mongkut during a military expedition against the Malay sultanates. The young King traveled around Asia to see how the works of Dutch and British colonization might improve the lot of the Thai people, a third of whom were slaves under the elite classes of the corrupt Front Palace. The feudal aristocracy refused to relinquish their power, but the young king deftly stripped them of tax-collecting duties and without money the old system gave way to the new.
The Great Beloved King refrained from being drawn into the various wars of foreign occupation besetting Indochina, although the French invaded Siam in the 1880s to extend their hegemony over Cambodia and Laos. Their naval forces didn't withdraw from the Kingdom until 1905, which was the same year Rama V freed the slaves and ended the practice of corvee or enforced labor.
Freeing the Tad or slaves was not done overnight. The young were liberated first, then those with families, and finally to old to prevent chaos. Still King Chulalongkorn was a saint to his people and traveled amongst them in disguise to better understand the plight of common men.
Rama V died in 1910 highly revered by this people and they still celebrate his passing with King Chulalongkorn Day.
A great man and father to his nation.
May his memory live forever.