Saturday, December 28, 2013
Europe was the main resource for the colonists to learn about China before the "China Fever", generated by the famous voyage of the Empress of China, the first American commercial ship that reached China in 1784. There was no direct contact between China and North America before then. All Chinese products were brought to North America through Europe.
For the same token, Americans’ knowledge about China was also derived largely from European literary sources. Ever since the 17th century, the reports of European missionaries in China had been “so filled with admiration that European intellectuals were seized with a mania for things Chinese." Chinese philosophical “impact on Western philosophy was of far greater and more lasting significance.
The admiration of Chinese culture had become the characteristic of the Age of Enlightenment in Europe. Some prominent European thinkers turned to Confucian philosophy for theory to support their arguments in their debates on moral, political or religious issues. European "admiration for things Chinese reached its climax in Valtair's Essai Sur les Maurs (1756), which presented Confucius (551-479 BC) as “an anticipation of the philosophies of the eighteenth century"
Monday, December 23, 2013
The founding fathers regarded China as a place where they could find important resources to promoting agricultural and industrial development in North America. They made their exertion to transplant valuable plants from China to North America. In 1770, Benjamin Franklin also sent soybean seeds from London to John Bartram in Philadelphia.
Two years later Franklin obtained rhubarb seeds and sent them to Bartram. George Washington made his own experiments to plant Chinese flowers in his garden on Mountain Vernon. Thomas Jefferson made long time commitment to transplant the dry rice to southern United States. In addition to Franklin, Benjamin Rush promoted the sericulture in North America. Franklin expressed his great interest in Chinese industrial technologies, such as heating house in the winter, ship building, paper making, candle and mill and other technologies.
Gouverneur Morris (1752-1816) was influenced by the literature on the Grand Canal of China. The Chinese canal construction technologies had an impact on the New Yorkers, who wanted to build the Erie Canal, which could help making New York one of the great cities in the United States. Jefferson borrowed elements from Chinese architecture in his effort to create a new style of building.
Sunday, December 15, 2013
It shouldn't be surprised us when we learn through reading of Franklin’s autobiography that Franklin gave “strict attention to each of the Virtues successfully.” In his Pennsylvania Gazette, Franklin quoted the following paragraph from the Morals of Confucius to guide himself and his readers;
He [Confucius-author] says we know the End to which must attain, it is necessary to determine, and incessantly to make towards the End, by walking in the Ways which lead thereunto, by daily confirming in his mind resolution fixt on for the attaining it, and by establishing it so well that nothing may in the least shake of it. When you have thus fixt your mind in this great Design, give up your self, adds he,to Meditation: Reason upon all things upon your self: Endeavour to have some clear Ideas thereof; Consider definitely what preventh it self to you. Pass, without prejudice, solid judgment thereon; Examine every thing, and weigh every thing with Care. After Examination and Reasonings you may easily arrive at the End where you must fix, at the End where you ought resolutely to stand, viz, at perfect conformity of all your Action, with what Reason suggests.
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.
Jefferson 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 De Geer 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.”
Saturday, August 17, 2013
China and the United States have an undeniably strong and deep-rooted trade relationship. In late 1783, the United States of America, which had just won its independence from Great Britain, was in dire economic straits partly because Britain had banned many trade hubs from dealing with the new country. (Dr. Dave Wang, Ginseng: the herb that helped the United States to enter international commerce.
World Huaren Federation website. Available at: www.huaren.org/members-contribution/ginseng--us-commerce. Accessed April 23, 2012.) In an effort to establish its own trade routes and rescue the country’s financial system, the United States sent a ship named the Empress of China from New York Harbor to Canton, China (now called Guangzhou) on February 22nd of 1784. It carried 30 tons of wild American ginseng, mostly gathered from southern Appalachia. Dave Wang, PhD — Manager of Queens Library in Laurelton — said the early Americans saw ginseng “as a valuable opportunity to break their economic blockage by Britain” (e-mail, April 23, 2012). Other sources document the Empress as an attempt to establish a new source of tea, which was becoming dearly missed after the United States was banned from trading with the British West Indies.
According to Dr. Wang, American ginseng “was the most important commercial good in the trade between China and the United States during the late 1700s leading into the early 1800s.” Not only was the Empress’s ginseng cargo an economic success, it also tied the countries together on another — and perhaps equally important — level. Instead of becoming competition for Asian ginseng, the American variety was viewed as being complementary, said Dr. Wang. “[The Chinese] discovered that Chinese ginseng is warm and good for people who have recovered from a serious illness and need to regain their strength; on the other hand, American ginseng has cooler properties and is normally used to cool down fevers or summer heat. The Chinese considered it good for people with deficient yin or excessive yang. Therefore, American Ginseng was welcomed all the time.”
Dr. Wang indicated that the Empress and early ginseng trade influenced America more than it did China. Dr. Wang noted that ginseng helped “Americanize” the new country. Among famous early Americans, George Washington, Daniel Boone, and John Jacob Astor were reportedly involved with the ginseng trade. “The search for ginseng, the most important and lucrative export to China, became an important driving force of the westward expansion,” said Dr. Wang. “From the Eastern coast areas all the way out west… searching for Ginseng became a fever.”
In return for ginseng and other goods aboard the Empress and early trading ships to China, the United States imported much tea, which Dr. Wang said helped popularize the beverage, especially for lower classes of society that previously were unable to afford such a luxury item. The United States exported hundreds of thousands of pounds of ginseng in the years after the Empress set sail, over-exploiting many of the country’s wild populations.
When the US Fish and Wildlife Services implemented the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species, or CITES, in 1977, the agency began controlling wild ginseng harvest and trade. The above is from Lindsay Stafford, “First US-China Trade Ship Carried 30 Tons of American Ginseng: Helped Establish American Identity and Roots of International Trade” In HerbalEGram: Volume 9, Number 5, May 2012, published by American Botanical Council
Sunday, August 4, 2013
The enlightenment of a society could be measured by the spread of material possession. Readers of Dr. Dave Wang’s papers on the Chinese cultural influence on the colonies in North America have realized the significance of Chinese products for the colonists. I am not going to talk about how the fight to win the right of drinking Chinese tea without inappropriate taxes triggered the War of Independence. Instead I will discuss the importance of Chinese porcelain.
It is indeed beyond your imagination about the importance of the product. To own a Chinese porcelain bowl or not was regarded as the standard to judge if a colonist is civilized or not. Did they drink out of china cups instead of wooden vessels? It was a sign of civilization.
According to Thomas Jefferson, to judge a society’s enlightenment, we must look into “their kettles, eat their bread.” Now you should understand better why Benjamin Franklin was so happy when his wife bought him a Chinese bowl. In his widely read autobiography, Franklin told his first experience of drinking out of a Chinese porcelain bowl vividly. (See Benjamin Franklin’s Autobiography)
Saturday, July 20, 2013
Filial piety is considered a key virtue in Chinese culture. In Confucian philosophy, filial piety (Chinese: 孝, xiào) is a virtue of respect for one's parents and ancestors. Benjamin Franklin regarded himself a filial son. We know this by the fact that Franklin had the following sentence inscribed in his parents’ marble stone monument. “Their youngest son, In filial regard to their memory, Places this stone.”
This inscription is very important for us to understand Franklin’s attitudes towards Confucian Moral philosophy. His use of the word filial in this way is surprising, given his attitude towards organized religion and worship. Franklin took Confucius traditional step in "Regard" to the "Memory" of his parents. This "Memory" here isn't just Franklin's personal memory of his parents and it is another hard evidence of showing Franklin’s following Confucian moral philosophy in cultivating his private virtue.
We may find some notion of filial piety in Western history. However, it is well-known that there is no concept of filial piety same as that of ancient Chinese in the western civilization, including the ancient Greek civilization represented by Socrates, Plato and Aristotle; the ancient Hebrew Judaism civilization, and the ancient Roman civilization.
Thursday, July 4, 2013
Confucius and the founding of the United States don’t look like a pair. Confucius, the Latinized name of Kongzi (c. 550-476 B.C.), was a great philosopher and educator who lived at the end of “the Spring and Autumn Period” (770-475 B.C.) in China. The founding of America was a period in which the founders of the United States waged their death-or-life struggle to overthrow the imperialist rule of the Great Britain. Though the two are seemingly unrelated, in actuality a close relationship existed between them.
The United States’ founders applied many values from Confucian moral philosophy during founding of the United States. The founders’ appreciation of Confucian ideas can be seen in the house of James Madison (1751-1836), father of the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights, who had a portrait of Confucius hanging in his Virginia home. In addition to Madison, Thomas Paine (1737-1809), author of Common Sense, considered the Chinese sage to be in the same category as Jesus and Socrates. Furthermore, Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790), the Creator of the American Spirit, made the solemn statement that Confucian moral philosophy was valuable to the human being in general. Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), the principal author of the Declaration of Independence, also promoted Confucius moral principles in his inaugural speech in 1801. In his personal scratch book, Jefferson placed a poem about an ideal Chinese prince that was recommended by Confucius.
Other founders such as John Adams (1735-1826) and Benjamin Rush (1746-1813) also regarded Confucius highly in their efforts to make a blueprint for the new nation. These founders urged the citizens of the new nation to adopt positive elements from Confucian moral philosophy and followed moral examples established by Confucius to cultivate and advance their own virtues.
Saturday, June 29, 2013
Some well-known professors and writers have quoted Dr. Dave Wang' research. With this post I introduce a famous book, Power and Restraint: A Shared Vision for the U.S.-China Relationship edited by Richard N. Rosecrance, Gu Guoliang, Hardcover: 272 pages Publisher: Public Affairs; (March 2, 2009). According to the introduction to this book we know that this book is the result of many year's research by some distinguished Chinese and American scholars. This project was sponsored by the China–U.S. Exchange Foundation (USEF).
The papers in this book include many subjects from politics, economics, international security, to environmental studies. The authors discussed some important issues, such as global warming, trade relations, Taiwan, democratization, WMDs and bilateral humanitarian intervention. About the Author Richard Rosecrance is Adjunct Professor in Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School, Research Professor of Political Science at the University of California, and Senior Fellow in the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs.
The author of The Rise of the Virtual State lives in Lexington, Massachusetts. Gu Guoliang is Senior Research Fellow and Deputy Director of the Institute of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. From 1990 to 1995, he worked as Counselor of the Chinese Delegation to the UN Conference on Disarmament in Geneva. He established the Center for Arms Control and Nonproliferation Studies in 1998 and has acted as the Director of the Center since. He is also the Council Member of the Chinese Association of Arms Control and Disarmament. A reader will find that the book quotes Dr. Dave Wang' paper, Benjamin Franklin and China in page 213.
Wednesday, June 19, 2013
In Benjamin Franklin's eyes, the Germans are "very ingenious in the management of fire." However, the Germans should learn from the Chinese in this area. On August 28, 1785, Franklin who was at the sea wrote a letter to Jan Ingenhousz, in the following please enjoy the quote from the letter: In Germany you are happy in the Use of Stoves which saves Fuel wonderfully: Your People are very ingenious in the Management of Fire; but they may still learn something in that Art from the Chinese, whose Country being greatly populous and fully cultivated, has little room left for the Growth of Wood, and having not much other Fuel that is good, have been forc’d upon many Inventions during a Course of Ages, for making a little Fire go as far as possible.
The above quote shows that Franklin realized that the Chinese made their efforts to protect the environment by preventing trees from being cut down. The above paragraph also reminds me of that We should deepen our understanding of Franklin Stove's significance.
We usually talk about the fact that Franklin invented his stove for the purpose of warming houses in the cold winters for the colonists in the Northeast of North America. However, Franklin had a more important agenda in his mind when he borrowed technologies from China to created his stove. Franklin wanted to save trees in order to preserve environment.
Sunday, June 2, 2013
One day in the mid-seventeenth century some Chinese soldiers of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) started to build a Willow Palisade along the entire south boundary of Northeast China. The Willow Palisade was built under the order of Emperor Shunzhi (1644-1661) to discourage Ginseng diggers from other parts of China to search for Ginseng in the region. Emperor Shunzhi and his soldiers never thought that their action had an impact on the effort of the United States to win a place in international trade.
After seven years of severe fighting against the British Empire, the colonists in the North America won their formal independence. In 1783 the British signed the Treaty of Pariswith the colonial representatives. The colonists celebrated and enjoyed their hard won victory. However, the hilarious feeling of victory was quickly shadowed by economic difficulties. The economy did not go along with the political victory, but marched towards the opposite direction.
Depression and inflation seemed to grab the happy feeling away from the founding fathers and the fighters of the Revolutionary War. Britain, which had just lost the war, was trying hard to win the colonists over through economic coercion. All old trade routes were forced to close to the Americans. Britain adopted the strategy of seeking to put enough economic pressure on individual states to force them, one by one, to “return to Mother England.” Please read Dr. Dave Wang's Paper, Ginseng: the Herb that Helped the United States to Enter International Commerce
Saturday, June 1, 2013
China brands have been popular in North America. However, I was surprised when I read David Brook’s article, The Romantic Advantage, in New York Times, May 31, 2013. According to David, 94 percent of Americans cannot name even a single brand from China, the world’s second-largest economy. David forgot the basic fact that Chinese brands were well-known in North America even before the United States was established.
It is difficult to figure out the percentage about the Americans who could name how many brands from China during the founding era of the United States. However, it is safe to say that Chinese products were very attractive to the Americans in the 18th century. The founders and the revolutionary veterans certainly knew products from China were widely welcomed when they sent to China the first commercial ship, The Empress of China, on February 22, 1784. The fact that the Chinese goods brought back by the ship were sold out quickly proves the above statement.
Monday, May 27, 2013
As an indicator demonstrating the influence of Dr. Dave Wang’s study of the founders’ efforts to draw nourishments from Chinese civilization on other writers and historians, some important works have quoted Dr. Wang’s publications. Ann Lee and Ian Bremmer, What the U.S. Can Learn from China: An Open-Minded Guide to Treating Our Greatest Competitor as Our Greatest Teacher (Berrett-Koehler Publisher, Inc. San Francisco, 2012) Quoted Dr. Wang's paper, “How China helped shape American culture" Virginia Review of Asian Studies.
Friday, May 17, 2013
I would like to quote the following statement from Mr. Jeffrey Bingham Mead, the President of History Education Council of Hawaii State, “We'd like to call to your attention the pioneering research and writings of History Education Hawaii director, Dr. Dave Wang. His research has opened fresh eyes to something long neglected in the founding of the United States of America: the influence of Chinese civilization on the American Founders.
From one of his blogs dated June 28, 2012: “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.” We invite you to visit his blog site The U. S .Founders and China today and everyday.
Friday, May 10, 2013
February 22, 1784 was an important day in United States history. On that day the Empress of China sailed off the New York Harbor for Canton, China. The owners of the ship who were also founding fathers of the United States were aboard for the run to Sandy Hook. The ship exchanged salutes with harbor batteries when she sailed down the bay.
The Empress of China served as a vivid symbol of the great cooperation in American history. This cooper-sheathed ship was built in Baltimore and financed in Philadelphia; the business manager was from Boston. The ship started her adventure at New York. The united efforts behind the great sail tell a great story of the United States, which waged its heroic struggle to rise above the economic blockage by the British. Clearly, without this great cooperation among the newly independent states, it was unthinkable for her great success.
Friday, May 3, 2013
This blog, US Founders and China, that introduces Dr. Dave Wang's research in the field of Chinese cultural influence on the early history of the United States, has attracted readers all over the world. We often find readers from a country people rarely heard of. However, most of the readers are from North America, including the United States and Canada, all countries in Europe and Asia, such as China, Japan South Korea, Singapore, Malaysia and others. We also find readers from courtiers in Africa and Latin America.
In the following you will find the top ten countries that main readers are from. You can also find the percentage of readers from a specific country.
01. United States (54.7%),
02. Germany (10.1%),
03. Poland (6.8%),
04. Russia (4.6%),
05. France (3.1%),
06. United Kingdom (2.0%),
07. Netherlands (1.5%),
08. China (1.2%),
09. Ukraine (1.1%)
All other countries account for (15%).
Wednesday, May 1, 2013
A reader of this weblog may wonder which posts attract more readers. In the following, I will show the ten most popular posts. However, I should point out that the result are accurate as of June 2013. The results could be vary with this weblog becomes more and more popular and attracts readers around the world. In the following, please find the top ten items that readers have read
01. 297. Ginseng, Tea and the American Revolution, Feb 7, 2013, 49 comments
02. 299. Benjamin Franklin and Ginseng, Feb 24, 2013, 50 comments
03. 215. Chinese Influence on American Culture, Mar 29, 2011, 12 comments
04. 100. George Washington and the Empress of China, Oct 22, 2008, 32 comments
05. 209. Benjamin Franklin and China Gets Momentum, Feb 19, 2011, 20 comments
06. 292, Rufus King on China’s Trade Theory, Jan 14, 2013, 29 comments
07. 241. Why Americans Don't Seek Aristocratic Titles, Oct 30, 2011, 15 comments
08. 224. The First Five Presidents and China, May 20, 2011, 1 comment
09. 222. Did the Founders Believe U.S.Will Decline?, May 7, 2011
10. 210. Restore Washington's Chinese Flower Garden, Feb 21, 2011, 7 comments
Sunday, April 28, 2013
It was in Philadelphia where Franklin had the opportunity to access his knowledge of Chinese civilization. Philadelphia was the center of Chinese culture in North America. In the 18th century, “things Chinese, or in the Chinese style, then began a steady infiltration of the homes of the American city-dwelling merchant.”
The Philadelphian inhabitants “had access to more reliable knowledge concerning this aspect of Chinese life than readers anywhere else in the West”. It was popular for the residents of Philadelphia to use Chinese wall paper to decorate their homes. Powel Room, located at 244 South Third Street in Philadelphia, was decorated with beautiful Chinese wall paper. Chinese products, including teas, silk, porcelain, and cloth “became part of the social milieu of colonial and post-Revolutionary Philadelphia.”
Friday, April 26, 2013
China Dream, the principal object of which was building a commercial relationship with China, “dominated Jefferson’s thinking about America.” Jefferson naturally wanted Lewis to learn what he could about the routes used by the British traders coming down from Canada to trade with the Missouri River tribes, and about the trading methods and practice. He also instructed Lewis to pay attention to how the fur trade, currently dominated by the British, could be taken over by Americans using the Missouri route.
From the report of Lewis to Jefferson we can tell that Jefferson’s concern about finding a possible commercial route for the United States. “In obedience to your orders we have penetrated the Continent of North America to the Pacific Ocean, and sufficiently explored the interior of the country to affirm with confidence that we have discovered the most practical rout with does exist across the continent by means of the navigable branches of the Missouri and Columbia Rivers.” We admire Jefferson’s great vision reflected in his China Dream. However, what really are impressive are Jefferson’s great efforts to realize his dream. As historian and scholar Jon Meacham has perceived that Thomas Jefferson “dreamed big but understood that dreams become reality only when their champions are strong enough and wily enough to bend history to their purpose.”
The influence of Thomas Jefferson’s China dream on American history was so great that it encouraged a contemporary scholar to state that the Lewis and Clark expedition initiated by Thomas Jefferson “Changed American history forever—in no small part thanks to the seed of a dream planed so many years earlier.”
Saturday, April 20, 2013
John Ledyard (1751-1789) was called “American Marco Polo” and arguably the first United States citizen to have visited “the most ancient Nation in History.” He was also the first American to design and promote a systematic plan for the United States’ trade with China. Amazed by Chinese economic power, Ledyard had worked on his plan when he was a crewmember on James Cook’s (1728-1779) third journey. He hoped that the United States would become a global trading center and would “like the Chinese command the commerce of all nations that find it their interests to visit her & not suffer by those who do or do not.”
In October 1780, Ledyard deserted the Royal Navy and found a safe place to write his experience in the third voyage with James Cook. In Uncle Thomas’ law office, Ledyard completed A Journal of Captain Cook’s Last Voyage in the winter of 1782 and the spring of 1783. Immediately after completion of his book, Ledyard started to implement his plan beginning in his native state, Connecticut. In his memorial to the Connecticut assembly, Ledyard said that his plan may be “essentially useful to America in general but particularly to the northern states by operating a most valuable trade across the North Pacific Ocean to China & the East Indies.” However, the governor of Connecticut, Jonathen Trumbull (1756-1843), was not impressed by Ledyard’s plan.
Ledyard attempted to win the support from the leaders of the United States. The leaders of the new nation, suffering from economic chaos, were working hard to find a way to lead the nation out of its distressed circumstances after their victory in the Revolutionary War. Ledyard convinced whoever interested in his plan by predicting such a trip to China “could save our country from bankruptcy on profit of the fur trade.” It could also, “give our United States a place in the commercial world.” He went to Philadelphia, the new nation’s economical center, where his “revolutionary new plan for China trade” attracted Robert Morris (1734-1806), one of the founding fathers. Morris, the Financier of the American Revolution, was the Superintendent of Finance of the United States when Ledyard met him.
In June 1783, Ledyard had a conference with Morris. He described his sailing route from the United States to China. In accordance with the route, a ship would sail around Cape Horn to the Pacific West, where the ship could buy furs pelts from the local Indians. Then the ship would sail to China with the furs, where those things would be “sold at fabulous prices.” Probably, Ledyard’s plan was too gigantic for the fledgling new nation due to the fact that a journey to China was unchartered and full of unknown to American sailors.
Robert Morris and his partners scaled back the ambitious plan recommended by Ledyard and decided to send the Empress of China from New York directly to Canton. Instead of furs from Northwest American Coast area, they decided to gather ginseng from Northeast and Virginian Mountain areas. The trading goods carried by the Empress of China and shipped to China consisted of entirely of ginseng roots.
Thursday, April 18, 2013
With this post I don’t intend to dig the roots of the Pacific Dream. However, if present is from the past, we should understand that the Pacific Dream has its origin like everything else. It is no secrecy that Thomas Jefferson, the first United States Secretary of State, had a China Dream. The fact that he made his efforts to find a safe and convenient trade route with China constitutes main content of his China Dream. On April 14, 2013 John Kerry, the 68th United States Secretary of State, raised the notion of the Pacific Dream.
I have noticed that before he gave out the notion of the Pacific Dream, he told his audience Thomas Jefferson’s memorial in Washington DC was covered with beautiful ribbon of color at the moment when he made the following speech; “Now you have all heard, I know – and I say this without presumption that we're proud of it – you’ve all heard of the American Dream. It is embodied by no one more than by Barack Obama. Now Beijing’s new leader has introduced what he calls a “China Dream.” Today I’d like to speak with you about our opportunity in this increasingly global age to design and define our dream for the Pacific region, one in which nations and people forge a partnership that shapes our shared future.”
It is clear enough that John Kerry's statement demonstrates to the world that the tradition of drawing positive elements from other cultures to advance American culture started by the founders of the United States has has been preserved and developed into new stage of history. Mr. John Kerry’s Pacific Dream is the echo of Thomas Jefferson’s China Dream. One of the most important features of history is continuity. Yes, no one can cut the history from present. A nation without its history is not a nation. What is the Pacific Dream? We should hear John Kerry’s explanation. “Our Pacific Dream is to translate our strongest values into an unprecedented security, economic, and social cooperation.”
Tuesday, April 9, 2013
The culture gap across the Pacific Here is summary of my observations on the differences between Americans (USA) and Chinese. There are of course major trends in the two peoples.
Feeling of time: Perception is shaped by history and present. A 100 year old house or church is considered old by Americans. For a Chinese, ancient refers to the history before Qin Dynast BC 221, when the first emperor unified China. For Americans, 200 years was ‘ancient.”
Cars: Most of Chinese have are with manual gears, while most Americans like automatic ones.
Measure System: Chinese use the metric system (meters, grams) Americans use the old English imperial system (yards, mile, pounds, Fahrenheit, etc)
Date and time system: Chinese write the date in the format, Year, Month, Day., whereas Americans use “Month, Day, Year.
Public Holidays: May 1 is Labor Day for Chinese, whereas American Labor Day is first Monday of September.
Names: Chinese given names are after their family names, whereas Americans are the opposite. Their family names are after their give names.
Food: Chinese eat more varied and balanced meals and less fast food than American. Chinese probably drink more alcohol and American drink more wine. Americans eat more cheese and yogurt. Americans drink more coffees and Chinese more teas.
Sunday, March 31, 2013
I don't have to explain why Thomas Jefferson put Chinese style railing on the top of his main building in Monticello. Jefferson stated clearly, “We must contrive a building in such a manner that the finest and most notable parts of it be the most exposed to public view, and the less agreeable disposed in by the places, and removed from sight as much as possible.” (Henry Wieneck, Master of Monticello, Smithsonian, October 2012, p.42.)
In this blog you can find my post on Dr. Wang's study of Thomas Jefferson and Chinese Architecture. Jefferson used his building as an example to show his fellow Americans that the United States is a new country different from others. The United States was based in a new culture that composed of the best elements from cultures created from other parts of the world in addition to the European cultures the colonists brought over the Atlantic.
Friday, March 15, 2013
Readers of my blog should find in Post 200 the titles of Dr. Dave Wang's published works from 2005 to 2010. In those papers, Dr. Dave Wang has examined the US founding fathers' efforts to borrow from Chinese civilization in their attempts to create a new nation in North America.
In this post I will give you the titles of Dr. Dave Wang's papers published since 2010. Below is the list of his publications ( continuous from Post 200 of this blog):
30. Thomas Jefferson’s China Dream, Huaren E-Magazine (Australia) May, 2013
29. Thomas Jefferson’s Incorporating Positive Chinese Elements from Chinese Civilization, Virginia Review of Asian Studies 2012, Fall, pp.143-157.
28. Chinese Wisdom and American Victories, Huaren E-Magazine (Australia) September, 2012, 27. American Ginseng and Its Effect on Americanization, Virginia Review of Asian Studies 2012, Spring, pp.131-135.
26. The US Founders and China: The Origins of Chinese Cultural Influence on the United States, Education about Asia, Fall 2011: Volume 16, No. 2.
25. Chinese Civilization and the United States: Tea, Ginseng, Porcelain Ware and Silk in Colonial America, Virginia Review of Asian Studies 2011, pp.113-131.
24. The U.S. Founding Fathers and Confucius, Huaren E-Magazine (Australia) January, 2011.
23. From Confucius to the Great Wall: Chinese Cultural Influence on Colonial North America, Kokushikan University (Japan) has published this paper since 2010.
Sunday, February 24, 2013
On August 28, 1784, the Empress of China, the first United States commercial ship, in which the main goods were American Ginseng, reached Canton, China. We know that Benjamin Franklin was not among the founders who initiated the pioneering sail that started the direct connection between China and the United States.
However, Franklin made great contribution to make available Ginseng, the main goods, long time ago. 46 years before the great sail, Franklin had told the colonists in North America, “We have the Pleasure of acquainting the World, that the famous Chinese or Tartarian Plant, called Gin seng, is now discovered in this Province, near Sasquehannah: From whence several whole Plants with a Quantity of the Root, have been lately sent to Town, and it appears to agree most exactly with the Description given of it in Chambers’s Dictionary, and Pere du Halde’s Account of China. The Virtues ascrib’d to this Plant are wonderful.”
Knowing the Ginseng’s great value to the commercial value in the trade with China, Franklin worked to promote Ginseng in North America. From the letter to Josiah and Abiah Franklin, on September 1744, we can tell that Franklin successfully spread the information concerning Ginseng to Boston, “I will enquire after the Herb you mention: We have a botanist here, an intimate Friend of mine, who knows all the plants in the Country. He would be glad of a Correspondence with some Gentlemen of the same Taste with you; and has twice thro’ my Hands sent Specimens of the famous Chinese Ginseng, found here, to Persons who desired it in Boston neither of whom have had the Civility to write him a Word in Answer, even to acknowledge the Receipt of it; of which please to give a Hint to Br. John.”
Friday, February 15, 2013
As soon as the Empress of China returned to New York, American founder Richard Henry Lee wrote to Thomas Jefferson, Samuel Adams, and James Madison about the event. In his letter to Jefferson, Lee stated: The enterprise of America is well marked by a successful Voyage made by a ship from this City—A ship has gone to, and returned from Canton in fourteen months with a valuable Eastern cargo and met with the most friendly treatment from the Chinese—Other Vessels are gone and are expected back in the continuation.
Later, Lee informed Samuel Adams that the success of the sail was “a proof of American enterprise, and will probably mortify, as much as it will injure our old oppressor, the British.”
Thursday, February 7, 2013
The Ginseng drive also helped popularize the tea drinking from upper class to the rest of the society. Tea drinking in the colonies had been very popular before the huge amount of teas shipped directly by the citizens of the United States. The British carried the habit from England to North America, and the colonists quickly adopted their tastes for tea. Tea houses following London models became powerful social catalysts, providing an excellent forum for the exchange of ideas and the distribution of news.
Indeed, the taxes that the British imposed on the colonists’ tea spurred their demands for independence in the American Revolution. However, before 1784, tea was mainly a luxury reserved for affluent colonists due to its high price. However, large amounts of tea carried over oceans from China to North America by the Empress of China and other American ships after 1784 popularized the drink by making more affordable to ordinary Americans.
Saturday, February 2, 2013
A very important principle of Confucian moral philosophy is to educate the leaders to rule according to the belief--governing according to morality and promotion according to talents. In 1778, two years after the colonists declared their independence; Franklin addressed the significance of the morality’s role. He pointed out the necessity of introducing the notion of governing with morals, especially for the leaders of the United States.
Franklin told his fellow Americans, laws were not enough for the new nation; What the political struggle I have been engag’d in for the good of my compatriots, inhabitants of this bush; or my philosophical studies for the benefits of our race in general! For in politics, what can laws do without morals? Our present race of ephemeras will in a course of minutes become corrupt like those of other and older bushes, and consequently as wretched.
Thursday, January 31, 2013
The Empress of China was by no means a purely commercial activity. Its political symbol is significant: her sail to China made it clear to the world that the United States was no longer the British colonies and was now an independent country.
In celebration of the sail of the Empress of China, Philip Freneau (1752-1832), an iconic poet of the American Revolution, well known for his patriotism, explained the nature of the sail in his widely circulated poem, “With clearance from BELLONA won/ She spreads her wings to meet the Sun/ Those golden regions to explore/ Where George forbade to sail before….To that old track no more confin’d/ By Britain’s jealous court assign’d/ She round the STORMY CAPE shall sail/ And eastward, catch the odorous gale.”
On May 19, 1785, as soon as the Empress of China returned, John Jay, the secretary of foreign affairs of the Congress, expressed “a peculiar satisfaction in the successful issue of this effort of the citizens of America to establish a direct trade with China, which does so much honor to its undertakers and conductors.”
Saturday, January 26, 2013
Realizing that it would be a great source for its national revenue, in the 1760s, the British government began to impose a tax on tea, first through the Stamp Act of 1765 and later with the Townshend Act of 1767. Given the monopoly of the tea business, the British East Indian Company profited greatly. Benjamin Franklin reported that “in the five Years which have run on since the Act passed, would have paid 2,500,000 Guineas, for Tea alone, into the Coffers of the Company.”
The acts created serious dissatisfaction of colonists. They tried to boycott the acts by not drinking tea and drinking herbal infusions Benjamin Franklin tried to find some alternatives to Chinese tea. Peter Kalm had an interesting conversation with Franklin. According to him, “Benjamin Franklin, a man now famous in the political world, told me that at different times he had drunk tea cooked from the leaves of the hickory with the bitter nuts. The leaves are collected early in the spring when they have just come out but have not yet had time to become large. They are then dried and used as tea. Mr. Franklin said that of all the species used for tea in North America, next to the real tea from China, he had in his estimation not found any as palatable and agreeable as this.”
Two weeks before the event in Boston Harbor, Benjamin Franklin, then the representative from North American colonies, found that the colonist’s “steady refusal to take tea from hence for several years past has made its impressions” in the British parliament. Franklin worked hard to make the parliament to issue “a temporary licence from the treasury to export tea to America free of duty.” They could gain nothing through peaceful negotiation. Smuggling tea couldn’t meet the demand of the consumers. Outraged colonists, including merchants, shippers and general masses started demonstrations, culminating in the famous Boston Tea Party of December 1773.
Just a year and a half after the colonial patriots dumped the tea in Boston Harbor, Paul Revere's ride and the first shots fired at Lexington. The conflict caused by the justified right to drink tea without extra economic burden led to political hostilities, which were in due course led to the American war for independence.
Thursday, January 17, 2013
Thomas Jefferson had substantial interest in US-China trade. While serving as American representative in France in 1785, Jefferson obtained a complete report concerning the Empress of China. As Washington’s secretary of state, Jefferson suggested exploration to find a shorter trade route to East Asia. Later, shortly after the Louisiana Purchase, President Jefferson sent the famed explorers Louis and Clark west in hopes of finding a quicker route to China.
During Jefferson’s administration (1801–1809), US-China trade reached new heights, with the number of involved American ships having increased from two in 1785 to forty-two in 1806. US-foreign trade was severely limited in the brief period after President Jefferson signed the 1807 Embargo Act, supposedly prohibiting all American exports, in his attempt to keep the US out of the war between Great Britain and France. Even though only eight American ships sailed to China between 1808 and the first months of 1809, Jefferson realized China’s significance to the new nation and viewed strengthening US-China trade as a strategy to coerce European countries to recognize American interests.
In 1808, a specific event occurred during the second year of Jefferson’s Embargo Act that afforded the president the opportunity to opine on China and the US. With Jefferson’s permission, New York-based merchant John Jacob Astor succeeded in getting one of his vessels to China despite the current trade embargo. Jefferson firmly believed that Astor’s deed provided the United States an opportunity, and he expressed his opinion in a letter to Secretary of the Treasury Albert Gallatin: The opportunity hoped from that, of making known through one of its own characters of note, our nation, our circumstances and character, and of letting that [Chinese] government understand at length the difference between us and the English, and separate us in its policy, rendered that measure a diplomatic one in my view, and likely to bring lasting advantage to our merchants and commerce with that country. Jefferson’s pronouncement remained fundamental in American dealings with China long into the future. At least one authority on US-East Asian relations acclaimed the statement as “the nearest to an official opinion on American policy.”
Monday, January 14, 2013
For Rufus King (1755-1827), one of the founding fathers of the United States, China's commercial system was a passive system "resting solely on the theory of selling dear and buying cheap." (Charles R. King ed. The Life and Correspondence of Rufus King, Comprising His Letters, Private and Official, His Public Documents and His Speeches. New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1898, p.562). You may be impressed by King's analysis of China's trade theory.
However, you may also feel surprised by King's following statement that China's economic thoery "has at all times had its advacates among us." King's statement reveals how US founders held China's economic theory in high regard. King's quotation further proves Dr. Dave Wang's conclusion in his paper, "US Founders and China," that the US-China trade was opened by the founders of the United States.
Sunday, January 13, 2013
In order to obtain first hand knowledge of the materials on the China trade and its influence in the US , Washington visited Captain John O'Donnell (died c 1805) in August 1785, when the owner and master of the Pallas sailed to Baltimore with a cargo from China and bought about 2,000 acres on the Baltimore waterfront east of Fell's Point where he built a mansion and named it "Canton". Washington planned to expand the China trade from New England to Virginia.
In 1787, he instructed David Stuart to inspect the Potomac River and to find a place where a warehouse for the objects needed in trade with China could be constructed. In order to observe the advancement of the America trade with China, he requested his subordinates to provide with him the previous year's list of the ships that were in Canton, China in July 1789. In 1789, when Washington was elected as the first president of the US , he fully stated the significance of the trade to his still-young country.
Washington told the Marquis de Lafayette that the national revenues had been considerably more productive than had been imagined they would be because of the China trade. Since 1784, the value of American trade with China increased greatly. In 1790, it was estimated that trade with China accounted for about one seventh of US imported goods. By 1792, the value of the American trade with China had surpassed that of Holland, France and Denmark, and was second only to Great Britain, which had had established commercial relations with China for over 100 years.
In 1840, American business with China amounted to nearly US$75 million, a sum greater than the total debt of the American Revolution. Trade with China helped revitalize the US and port cities like Salem, New York and Boston hugely benefited from it. The trade brought back hard money that capitalized new industry. Factory towns sprang up, and Americans began to experiment with the techniques of mass production. Soon the groundwork had been laid for the greatest industrial expansion the world had seen.
Thursday, January 10, 2013
Jefferson studied Chinese garden styles when he started to build his own garden in his estates. He spent his free time on making plans for his garden. During the year when he finally decided upon his construction plan, Jefferson planned to build a garden "where objects are intended only to adorn,' the Chinese style." Jefferson loved the Chinese railing--particular Chinese design found from Thomas Chippendale (1718-1779) and William Chambers (1723-1796).
Jefferson also used the railings below the dome of his main building and surrounding the walkways. Jefferson loved the Chinese railing so much that he used the style all over his estates from 1756, such as in the Woodford, Schuyler, Timothy Orne, and Roger Morris houses. He continued using the style after the American Revolution.
Tuesday, January 1, 2013
Five Stages of Benjamin Franklin’s Efforts to Promote Virtual Cultivation, 1722 -1790 Confucius 孔子 pointed out the following steps for an elite gentleman to follow: 修身 To cultivate the moral self, 齐家 advance the family’s virtue, 治国 promote the good virtue in your state and 平天下 illuminate the good virtue to the universe. Surprisingly enough, you will find that Benjamin Franklin exactly followed Confucius above procedure in virtual cultivation for an elite gentleman.
State One: To Cultivate Moral Self Franklin’s Efforts to Cultivate His Own Virtue according to Confucius Moral Philosophy, 1726-1736 In 1726 Franklin expressed the notion that the rulers should show love to their subjects in Journal of Occurrences in My Voyage to Philadelphia from London, July 1726. Franklin revealed that he had focused on moral cultivation in his Letter to His Sister Jane Mecom in January 1727. He put moral issues in the discussing agenda of JUNTO. In 1728 Franklin started his virtual cultivation campaign and listed thirteen virtues he would focus on. He stated that there was never yet a truly Great Man that was not at the same time truly Virtuous.
Stage Two: To Advance the family well according to your own virtue Franklin managed his family business so well that he could retire at the age of forty. He tried to run his printing business in good virtue. One of the reasons was that he maintained good virtue in business. He told us a story in his autobiography, “My brother-in-law, Holmes, being now at Philadelphia, advised my return to my business; and Keimer tempted me, with an offer of large wages by the year, to come and take the management of his printing-house, that he might better attend his stationer's shop. I had heard a bad character of him in London from his wife and her friends, and was not fond of having any more to do with him.”
Stage Three: To Promote the good virtue in your State Franklin’s Efforts to Promote the Youth in North America to Cultivate Their Virtue, 1737-1783. Franklin organized most of his ingenious acquaintance into a club of mutual improvement, which was called the JUNTO. They met on Friday evenings. Franklin drew up the rules required that every member, in his turn, “ should produce one or more queries on any point of Morals”
In March 1737, Franklin published some chapters from the “Morals of Confucius” in the Philadelphia Gazette, his weekly newspaper circulated widely in the colonies. Next year, Franklin promoted virtual cultivation in his widely read Poor Richard Almanack. Six years later, Franklin told his readers that all knowledge should be usable in A Proposal for Promoting Useful Knowledge Among the British Plantations in America. In 1748 Franklin told the young trademen that industry and frugality were the two most important virtue in The Advice to a Trademan. In 1749, Franklin made his solemn statement that Confucius was good example in his Letter to George Whitefield.
In 1753 Franklin told the North American people that “Virtue and Trade are a Child’s best Portion in Poor Richard Almanck. In 1757 Franklin told the youth that industry and frugality were the means of procuring wealth in The Way to Wealth. In 1758 Franklin emphasized frugality’s importance. In 1760, Franklin explained in his Letter to Load Kamas the Art of Virtue and told the youth how to cultivate their virtue. In 1775 Franklin articulated his happiness seeing that frugality had become the fashion of the American people. Frugality would make sure that Americans were able to pay off the war expenditure. In 1778 Franklin concentrated on moral’s important role in the new nation. He raised the question, “what can laws do without morals?” In 1780 Franklin told his grandson, a person with virtue would live a happy life. In 1783 he expressed the notion that America’s new leaders should lead by example and be role models.
Stage Four: To illuminate good morals in the universe Franklin’s Efforts to Encourage Humankind to Cultivate their Morals, 1784-1790 In 1784 Franklin wrote the virtual cultivation section of his autobiography. In his letter, To Those Who Would Remove to America, Franklin told the people who planned to move to the United States that success in the New Nation rested in if one had a good virtue. In 1790 Franklin extolled industry and diligence above all virtues. He also expressed his happy life because he cultivated his virtue.