Thursday, January 31, 2013

295. John Jay on the First Effort to Establish Trade Relationsip with China

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

294. Why Benjamin Franklin Stopped Drinking Chinese Tea

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

293. Thomas Jefferson and American Policy Toward China

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

292, Rufus King on China' s Trade Theory

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

291. George Washington and US Trade with China

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

290. Thomas Jefferson and the Chinese Garden Styles

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

289. Benjamin Franklin’s Efforts to Promote Virtual Cultivation

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.