Saturday, April 4, 2015
384. Benjamin Franklin was America's first Confucian
In his book, The Life of Benjamin Franklin, Volume 3: Soldier, Scientist, and Politician, 1748-1757, Volume 3 (Google eBook), the late Professor, J. A. Leo Lemay stated, "Just as, from his knowledge of Chinese history and culture, and especially from his publication of the Morals of Confucius in the
Pennsylvania Gazette of 7 and 21 March 1737/8, one could argue that Franklin was America's first Confucian and Sinologist. " (p. 586)
I think that his argument is reasonable based on Franklin's efforts to enhance his and others' virtue through Confucian moral philosophy. I want to point out here is that other founders, including Thomas Paine and Thomas Jefferson, also quoted Confucian principles in their papers.
Jefferson included in his own personal book a poem of Prince Wei, recommended by Confucius as an example for leaders of a nation. For more information, one can read Dr. Dave Wang's paper, "Confucius in American Founding, " Virginia Review of Asian Studies. Volume 16, 2014.