Thursday, June 28, 2012

266. China and the Founding of the United States

It seems a historical irony that China, the ancient and far away empire, also had an impact on the founding of the United States. Military support from France was one of the key factors in the colonists’ victory in the American Revolutionary War. One reason the French royal court fought the British in North America was to prevent a 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 With the accession of King Louis XVI, Charles Gravier Comte de Vergennes (1717-1787) became foreign minister. He believed that the power of the states on the periphery of Europe, namely Great Britain and Russia, was increasing and should be checked. His rivalry with the British and his desire to avenge the failure of the Seven Years’ War led to his support of the Americans in their war for independence. In 1777 he told the Thirteen Colonies’ commissioners that France acknowledged the United States and was willing to form an offensive and defensive alliance with the new nation. It was also due to his encouragement that King Louis sent expeditions to Indochina. Thomas Fleming, The Perishes of Peace: America’s Struggle for Survival After Yorktown, New York: Smithsonian Books, 2007, p.57.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

265. The Main Weavers of the Fiber of American Civilization

As a reader of this blog, you have realiezed through Dr. Dave Wang's reserach the influenc of Chinese culture on the development of the United States. The founding fathers of the United States were among the main weavers of the fiber of United States Civilization. Benjamin Franklin, George Washington and Thomas Jefferson had positive attitudes towards Chinese civilization and worked hard to borrow from it in their efforts to make a new and flourishing society in North America.

Benjamin Franklin studied and promoted Confucian Moral philosophy in his effort to cultivate his own morals as well as to encourage Americans to do the same. George Washington personally conducted an experiment to grow Chinese flowers in his garden. Thomas Jefferson incorporated Chinese architectural elements into his own buildings in Monticello.

Thanks to Dr. Wang's study of the subject, we can learn the relations between Chinese culture and the United States. Enjoy the poster of Dr. Wang's Speech in Rome in 2006

Friday, June 15, 2012

264. Benjamin Franklin and Chinese Heating Technology

There is a long and cold winter in the northern section of North America. During colonial times, most people warmed their homes by building a fire in a fireplace, even though it was dangerous and much wood was needed. Franklin figured that there had to be a better way. By the 1740s the growing population of the Colonies resulted in noticeable inroads on the great forests, which supplied fuel. The heating of houses was growing more expensive, while the wood used was very inefficient, much of the heat - five sixth, Franklin estimated in many cases - being lost up the chimney. In the process of working on a new and efficient heating system, Franklin studied Chinese heating technology. He examined the “ingenious” heating technology used by “the northern Chinese.”

As in other cases, Franklin did not just copy the Chinese technology. He examined it first, and then adopted the most suitable part from the technology. He noticed that the Chinese heating technology had some minor flaws. For instance, “as the underside of the floor must grow foul with soot, and a thick coat of soot prevents much of the direct application of the hot air to the tiles.” Franklin found the cause of this problem. Franklin was not satisfied with finding the problem; he continued to work to find the solution. For the purpose of making the Chinese heating system more efficient in the United States, Franklin built “the funnel close to the grate, so as to have only an iron plate between the fire and the funnel, through which plate, the air in the funnel being heated, it will be sure to draw well, and force the smoke to descend.”

On the basis of his assimilation of the Chinese heating technology, Franklin invented a fire place, which was called the Pennsylvania Fire Place. He dealt with the problem by incorporating a number of passages and vents so that the apparatus drew in cold fresh air from outside the building and, after warming the air in a passage kept hot by the escaping gases of the fire, finally discharged it into the room. The main advantage, Franklin maintained, was that “whole room is equally warmed, so that people need not crowd so close round the fire, but many sit near the window, and have the benefit of the light for reading, writing, needle-work, &c

From Benjamin Franklin and Chinese Civilization, published by Reset Dialogue of Civilization. The paper can be accessed from this link.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

263. Chinese Wisdom and American Victories

Former President Bill Clinton has tirelessly and earnestly exhorted Americans that “success in the twenty‐first century world requires Americans to be curious enough to learn from other countries.” Clinton’s admonition is of particular significance now that the United States is once again facing tremendous, unprecedented challenges both domestically and abroad. It has been a great tradition of the United States to learn from other countries.

Readers will learn how political and military leaders, including the founding fathers of the United States, have used Chinese wisdoms to overcome obstacles on their roads to victories. In fact, some eminent leaders of the North American colonies paid attention to Chinese culture long before this country was founded. Traditional Chinese civilization has served as a priceless treasure from which the American leaders constantly draw wisdom. Numerous American political leaders, from the US founders to contemporary presidents, have sought enlightenment from traditional Chinese culture.

This is the opening paragraph of Dr. Dave Wang’s paper, Chinese Wisdom and American Victories, in Huaren E-Magazine, January 2012.