Friday, May 20, 2011
224. The First Five Presidents and China
I have found the very interesting historical fact between the United States and China. The first five presidents of the United States from George Washington (1789-1797) to John Adams (1797-1801), Thomas Jefferson (1801-1809), James Madison (1809-1817) and James Monroe (1817-1825) were all interested in using Chinese cultural elements in their efforts to build the new nation.
From Dr. Wang's paper,"With China We Trade," we have learned that George Washington strongly supported the fledgling United States to establish direct economic relationship with China. Dr. Wang's paper, "All Posterity Would Remember My Legacy: Thomas Jefferson and a Legendary Chinese Prince" tells its readers that Thomas Jefferson, who enormously concerned about his reputation and honor, regarded the well-loved and respected Chinese Prince WEI, featured in the Great Learning, one of the canons of Confucianism as an exemplary role model for other leaders.
James Madison, the father of the US Constitution and the Bill of Rights, hung a portrait of Confucius at his home. He also owned a copy of the Great Learning, one of the four classics of Confucianism.
James Monroe became the first president that started direct communication between a president of the United States and a Chinese emperor. In 1822 he wrote a letter to Chinese emperor. Interestingly enough, Monroe’s 179 year old letter was bought by an absentee bidder at a New York Auction in 2001. The bidder paid about $20,000. It will be great if the bidder can release the content of the letter to researchers, students and general readers. This letter will no doubt deepen our knowledge on the founders who were interested in building relations with China.