Saturday, April 19, 2014

347. Benjamin Franklin Wished to Visit China

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) was deeply impressed by China. Due to the lack of direct communication between China and North America in Benjamin Franklin era, Franklin was forced to make his extra efforts to collect information on China. When in Europe, Franklin tried every means to find books on China and read them. Although it is difficult to find out how many books on China Franklin read, we can tell from his determinnation to follow Confucius' moral teachings to cultivate his virture and from his great efforts to borrow Chinese technologies Franklin's reading list was very inclusive, including subjects such as literature, economic and natural sciences.

Unsatisfied with the books he read, he tried to approach people who had been to China in person. In order to obtain information on Chinese life and customs, he contacted the “sailors on the Packet who had previously made the trip to the China seas.” Later in his life, Franklin obtained “his knowledge of Chinese navigation from Captain Truxtun who in the following year himself made the voyage to China.” Franklin even tried to visit China personally, and told one of his friends, “If he were a young man he should like to go to China.”

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