Saturday, April 12, 2014
346. Thomas Jefferson and Confucius
Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826) admired Voltaire (1694-1778), the French leader of the Age of Enlightenment. Voltaire regarded Confucianism as a high system of morals, and Confucius as the greatest of all sages. From Jefferson’s speech, it is evident that Jefferson accepted the Confucian concept of the true gentleman, and the belief that a good moral foundation was the foundation of a good government.
Jefferson’s vision for a better United States was largely based in a benign religion and a wise government. The morals Jefferson listed in his inauguration speech were the same moral principles that Confucius maintained. Jefferson also enshrined the Confucian moral principle that a ruler loses his mandate if the people don't approve in the Declaration of Independence: "We hold these truths to be self-evident . . . That whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it.