Sunday, August 8, 2010

195. Influences from the East

Dr. Dave Wang made his presentation in the topic of Influences from the East: Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson and Chinese Civilization at the 21st Conference of the International Association of Historians of Asia, 22-25 June 2010 in Singapore. You can find the photo on line taken by the conference reporter.

According to Dr. Wang, during the formative era of American culture, the founding fathers of the United States, including Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson, borrowed with the wisdom of learning from foreign cultures, positive elements from Chinese civilization. Franklin regarded Confucius moral philosophy as his guideline in his efforts to cultivate his virtue. Jefferson borrowed certain Chinese architectural designs, such as the railings below the dome and surrounding the walkways. The virtual consensus among the founding generation of American statesmen was to "pursue a political destiny separate from Europe." Jefferson, who believed a building was not merely a walled structure, but a metaphor for American ideology, and the process of construction was equal to the task of building a nation, incorporated Chinese architectural style in his creation of a new style-Jeffersonian Style, which is still popular today. The founding fathers' endeavor attested the American desire to build a new culture.

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