Many Chinese scholars and followers of China's many religions resented the white Christian missionaries who had flocked to China in the mid-19th century, and to stir up the common people they frequently circulated rumors that the foreigners were sorcerers. The French Sisters of Charity at their orphanage in the city of Tientsin (Tianjin) used top give small cash rewards to people who brought in homeless or unwanted children, which gave rise to the rumor that children were being abused, kidnapped, and used for witchcraft. On June 21, 1870, and angry Chinese crowd led by a local magistrate stood outside the orphanage; the French consul ordered his guards to fire on the mob to disperse it. Enraged by this, the Chinese stormed and sacked the orphanage, killing in the process 18 foreigners, including the consul and 10 nuns. A storm of protest issued from both Paris and Rome, and Western naval ships sailed to Tientsin. France demanded severe punishment for those responsible; 16 Chinese were executed, and China officially apologized to France.