Saturday, October 5, 2013

322. China and the founding of the United States

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.

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