Sunday, July 26, 2015
In his history class, China's Relations with the United States, the Chair of the History Department of the well-known Loomis Chaffee School at Windsor, Connecticut, Robert Andrian used as teaching text book Dr. Dave Wang's works on the Chinese cultural influence on the early development of the United States.
"It should be pointed out that both before and after the American Revolution, the Founding Fathers were attracted to Chinese philosophy, technology and trade. Confucian moral ideals, for example, were respected at a time when leaders in the U.S. were interested in not blindly following in Europe's footsteps. Thomas Jefferson expressed "the desirability of Chinese isolation and of the need to place an ocean of fire between us and the old world." (Dr. Dave Wang, The US Founders and China: The Origins of Chinese Cultural Influence on the United States Education about Asia, Fall, 2011, p.11)
Chinese heating technology influenced Benjamin Franklin and led to the more efficient Pennsylvania Fireplace and ultimately the Franklin stove. Cold winters became less harsh for many. Chinese porcelain was very popular among American well-heeled families, and Benjamin Rush among others, believed that domestic Chinese porcelain manufacturing was a key to national economic self-reliance and overcoming the colonists' dependence on British imports. According to St. John's Professor David Wang, "the American China Manufactory in Philadelphia became noted for its quality, and more importantly, succeeded in cultivating patriotism as it challenged Britain's monopoly of the product and indirectly contributed to the struggle for independence." (Dr. Dave Wang, The US Founders and China: The Origins of Chinese Cultural Influence on the United States Education about Asia, Fall, 2011, p.8.)
When Franklin found Chinese soybeans, rhubarb seeds and tallow trees in England, he sent them along to the colonies. The tallow trees were useful in making soap and candles among other things. And, as can be seen in the accompanying photo of Monticello, Jefferson incorporated Chinese railings in his architectural design.
The new nation needed to cultivate new trading partners to help propel economic growth. European countries were willing to export to but not import from the U.S. The Empress of China maiden voyage to Canton in 1784 inaugurated a vigorous U.S.-China maritime trade, and was, as Richard Henry Lee put it, "proof of American enterprise, and will probably mortify, as much as it will injure our old oppressor, the British." (Dr. Dave Wang, The US Founders and China: The Origins of Chinese Cultural Influence on the United States Education about Asia, Fall, 2011, p.9)
Jefferson believed that the China trade could separate the U.S. from Britain. In 1785 two American ships went to China; in 1806, 42 made the voyage. By 1795, the U.S. was ahead of all its European rivals except Britain in terms of volume of trade with China. New York and New England commercial and financial elites began to prosper."
Monday, July 20, 2015
Cragfont Frontier Mansion is a state historical house museum in Summer County, Tennessee. The Cragfont house was built between 1798 and 1802 by James Winchester. The Center for Historic Preservation worked to restore the museum. Ms. Rachel McCreery and Ms. Savannah Grandey from Middle Tennessee State University were entrusted to make a furnishing plan for the house. Their contributions continue the work of Dr. Carroll Van West’s American Architecture Seminar, which completed a historic structure report. In their report, Ms. Grandey and Ms. McCreery used Dr. Dave Wang's academic paper to formulate their plan. In the following I will quote the paragraph from their widely acclaimed plan:
“ While not original to the house, it was possible that the Winchesters owned items from China such as the pair of vases found in the dining room. Throughout the colonial era, Chinese goods such as tea, silk, and porcelain were made available to colonists’ through trade with Europe. After independence, dealings with China helped the young nation initiate international trade and ensured a steady flow of Chinese goods into America. Chinaware was held in high esteem by George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Benjamin Franklin. Owning Chinaware implied refined taste, a quality that Winchester brought to the Tennessee backcountry. (Dave Wang, “Chinese Civilization and the United States: Tea, Ginseng, Porcelain Ware and Silk in Colonial America,” Virginia Review of Asian Studies (2012): 114, 121-4.)”
Saturday, July 18, 2015
Dr.Dave Wang's Paper, Benjamin Franklin and Chinese Civilization has been translated into Italian.
Scholarship on the study of Benjamin Franklin for the past two centuries shows that Franklin’s “legacy had a distinctive place in American culture.” He is a figure we want to understand if we want to understand the American character. We owe much to him for the formation of the civilization we call American civilization today. No other figure has had such a clear vision concerning the future of American civilization and how American civilization could grow out of European civilization. In the long process of “the breaking of the old world,” Franklin wanted to turn himself from being a European “to be American.” How to be an American? Or put it in another way, how to build an American civilization? I believe that Franklin’s efforts to draw positive elements from Chinese civilization in the course of building an American civilization carried much weight in Franklin’s contribution to the formation of American civilization. With the great vision in the “narrow eighteenth-century ideas about other cultures,” Franklin “kept his eyes open to a “world that went far beyond the wharves jutting out into Boston Harbor and far beyond the canons of Puritanism.” Franklin told us that he “was very fond of reading about China.” His statement was very true. His correspondence and miscellaneous papers throughout his life indicate that he was amazed in Chinese culture. He explored almost every aspect of Chinese civilization, from spiritual to material.
Friday, July 10, 2015
In his work of over several years, Dr. Dave Wang has explored Chinese culture and the early development of the United States, particularly the efforts of eminent colonists, including the founding fathers, who worked hard to draw nourishments from traditional Chinese Civilization. Dr. Wang has written recently an excellent article titled "The US Founders and China: TheOrigins of Chinese Cultural Influence on the United States," useful forthe Chinese-American community and teachers and students interested in their roots in early America. It is a must-have resource for education about Asia. ( Permission to use has been granted by: Peggy Creswell, Managing Editor, EducationAbout Asia. 302 Pfeiffer Hall, Dept. 2222 University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, TN 37403. Phone (423)425-2118, Fax (423)425-5441. Website: http://www.asian-studies.org/EAA/
Saturday, July 4, 2015
It is time to celebrate this year's Fourth of July by remembering something forgotten in the fireworks. That was the founders used Confucian moral philosophy to start a new virtue for the new nation.
The victory of the revolution brought freedom to the British colonists in North America. But with this freedom also came greater opportunities to misbehave. During the late 18th century, moral issues caused by a culture of pleasure and freedom blossomed in American cities. According to some existing historical records, one could find a public place to engage in illicit activities in nearly every block in every 18th-century American city. Alarmed by those problems and other social issues, the founders reached a consensus that moral construction was not only a necessity in order to make the fruit of the revolution sustainable, but should be considered a priority. The founders believed that only virtuous people could live in a free society. Almost every founding father testified to the link between liberty and virtue. George Washington (1732-1799) told Americans: “It is essentially true that virtue or morality is a main and necessary spring of popular or republican governments.” Benjamin Rush stated, "Without virtue there can be no liberty." Benjamin Franklinwarned, “[O]nly a virtuous people are capable of freedom. As nations become corrupt and vicious, they have more need of masters.” Thomas Jefferson told his fellow Americans, "A nation as a society forms a moral person, and every member of it is personally responsible for his society." John Adams told the Americans that while the success of the revolution made the colonies free, “they will not obtain a lasting Liberty” without good virtues. He continued, "If Virtue & Knowledge are diffused among the People, they will never be enslav'd. This will be their great Security.” It was because of the above understanding the significance of new virtue that Confucius moral philosophy became important to the founders. For more information on how the founders introduced and promoted Confucian moral philosophy, please read Dr. Dave Wang's article, "CONFUCIUS IN THE AMERICAN FOUNDING: THE FOUNDERS’ EFFORTS TO USE CONFUCIAN MORAL PHILOSOPHY IN THEIR ENDEAVOR TO CREATE NEW VIRTUE FOR THE NEW NATION, " Virginia Review of Asian Studies, Vol. 16, 2014.