Saturday, December 7, 2013
Franklin’s recommendation of the Great Wall reveals the fact that Franklin regarded the Great Wall of China to be valuable to safeguard the American Revolution. The above history of Franklin’s efforts to build forts in frontier tells that Franklin’s recommendation was based on his personal experiences in the fighting fields. He had built a line of forts before he made the recommendation. Franklin’s recommendation demonstrates that Franklin used his knowledge of Chinese civilization to solve problems existing in North America’s colonies. Most importantly, Franklin’s recommendation has served as another example of how Franklin constantly and tirelessly used the positive elements from Chinese civilization to help his efforts to make North American colonies a flourishing society. You can find more information on the formation of Franklin's notion on the Great Wall of China from the paper, Chinese Yu Yunwen in North America Huaren E-Magazine, September 2013
Saturday, November 9, 2013
Benjamin Franklin was deeply impressed by China. Due to the lack of direct communication between China and North American and later the fledgling United States, Franklin made his extra efforts to collect information on China wherever it was available. Unsatisfied with the books he read, he tried to contact people who had been to China. In order to obtain knowledge on Chinese life and customs, he contacted the “sailors on the Packet who had previously made the trip to the China seas.” Franklin obtained “his knowledge of Chinese navigation from Captain Truxtun who in the following year himself made the voyage to China.” He even tried to visit China personally, and told his friend, “If he were a young man he should like to go to China.”
Saturday, October 19, 2013
In 1161, Yu Yunwen 虞允文 (1110-1174), a civilian official of Southern Song Dynasty China (1127-1279), was ordered to defend the southern China and prevent the Jin (Jurchen)’s military forces from across the Yangtze River. With a small force of 18,000 soldiers Yu successfully defeated the Jin (Jurchen)’s huge military forces composed of 170,000 men. Since the victory, Yu became a well-known civilian official who took the commanding position in a critical time and defeated the enemy’s powerful forces and successfully protected the country in Chinese history. Interestingly enough, it seems that history repeated itself in North America in 1756. Similar to Yu Yunwen, Benjamin Franklin, a civilian official, was appointed to be in charge of defending the colonies in the French Indian War. In 1754, the French and Indian War started in the Ohio River Valley. In the later part of 1755, Pennsylvania was threatened by the French Indians. Facing the threat, the leaders of Pennsylvania were reckoning different opinions on how to protect the colonies. In the arguments, the two approaches gained conspicuous attention. Some leaders considered the best way to keep the colonies safe was to bring the fight into the French Indian’s territory. The others maintained that the frontier could be safeguarded by a “Chain of forts.”
Thursday, October 10, 2013
The process that Thomas Jefferson transported Chinese porcelain from Europe to North America served as an indicator of demonstrating the value of the Chinese porcelain ware. Interestingly enough, in order to protect Chinese porcelain ware from being broken in the process of transportation, Jefferson bought creamware made by English potters. He clearly stated out that the purchase was to protect the Chinese porcelain ware from harm. Then he put them outside of the Chinese porcelain ware as protective layer. Jefferson's action led to the conclusion from an author that the role of English creamware was changing and its "aesthetic and qualitative value was waning." Later, in 1789, Jefferson ordered more Chinese porcelain from Edward Dowse, a Boston merchant engaging in Chinese trade. In April 1790, Dowse sent the porcelain ordered by Jefferson to New York where Jefferson was serving as the first secretary of state. In the interim, the porcelain wares he ordered in France arrived, including 120 porcelain plates, 58 cups, 39 saucers, 4 tureens, saltcellars, and various platters. He used these in New York and Philadelphia, and what remained was eventually shipped to Monticello. In 1793, Jefferson had all his Chinese porcelain transported to Monticello. With this link you can find more information on Jefferson's Chinese porcelain ware.Thomas Jefferson circa 1790’s China Acquired by The Raleigh DeGeer Amyx Collection.
Saturday, October 5, 2013
It seems a historical irony that China, the ancient and far away empire, had an impact on the founding of the United States. Military support from France was one of the key factors in the colonists’ victory of the Revolutionary War. One reason the French royal court fought the British in North America was to prevent the British from monopoly of trade with China. The French court understood that the French needed a victory in order to “destroy British hegemony, not only in North America but in the sugar-rich West Indies and the even richer market of India and China” During the formative age of the United States, China was not unknown to the North American colonies. Knowledge about China "was almost as widespread and as readily available there as in Europe." During the 18th century only two Chinese literary works of importance were translated into Western languages; "both were available in North America." Certain Chinese products, such as tea, had become deeply involved in the colonies and became an indispensable element of colonists’ daily life. The British control of tea and the colonists’ struggle against this control changed the historical course of the colonies. The tax on tea and the resentment with the tea monopoly by the East India Company was one of the factors that led the colonists to rebel.
Sunday, September 29, 2013
No other figure has had such a clear vision concerning the future of American civilization and how American civilization could grow out of European civilization. In the long process of “the breaking of the old world,” Benjamin Franklin wanted to turn himself from being a European “to be American.” Franklin’s efforts to draw positive elements from Chinese civilization in the course of building an American civilization carried much weight in Franklin’s contribution to the formation of American civilization. His correspondence and miscellaneous papers throughout his life indicate that he was amazed in Chinese culture. He explored almost every aspect of Chinese civilization, from spiritual to material. He believed that China was “the most ancient, and from long Experience the wisest of Nations”.
Tuesday, September 10, 2013
Benjamin Franklin showed a great interest in Chinese economic theory and practice. At some point between 1765 and 1774, he studied Chinese economic theory. He wrote the following to convey a pamphlet on economic theories by George Whatley, his English friend; It was an excellent saying of a certain Chinese Emperor, I wil, if possible, have no Idles in my Dominions’ for if there be one Man idle, some other Man must suffer Cold and Hunger. We take this Emperor’s Meaning to be, that the Labor due to the Public, by each Individual, not being perform’d by the Indolent, and necessary to furnish his Subsistence, must naturally fal to the share of others, who must thereby sufer.” From his autobiography we learn that Franklin practiced the Chinese emperor’s theory at his home. In his own home he “kept no idle Servants” In October 1786, Franklin expressed his position against “accumulation of debts as a practice adverse to the economy and cited the high interest in China as a salutary means of discouraging borrowing.” He stated that interest was three percent per month, for 10 months in China, or 30 per cent per ann., which promoted industry, kept down the price of land, & made freehold more common.” Franklin tried to gather economic theory from China as detailed as he could. He recorded in his notebook, a silversmith’s and his apprentice’s salary in a month, and a medical doctor’s income for his visit to his patients. Interestingly enough, Franklin even examined the “Fee paid on a Gift from the King.” His study of silk economy also gives readers a very deep impression. After examining the silk economy in China, Franklin pointed out the perspective for silk economy in Pennsylvania. “That Part of the Imperial Revenue in China paid in Silk, amounts to above 955,000Ib. Troy, and perhaps this is not the twentieth Part of the Produce of that Empire. One Million of Trees disposed into Mulberry Walks, in Pennsylvania, would in a few Years, enable a yearly Remittance to Great-Britain of a Million Sterling, and no Ways interfere with the other necessary Branches of Labour in the Community.”