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