Saturday, August 8, 2015

406. The Dry Rice and Jefferson's Efforts to Improve Slave's Life

In his paper, Asian Dry Rice and the Slave's Living Environment: Thomas Jefferson's Efforts to Transplant the Rice to the United States, Dr. Dave Wang examined the efforts that Thomas Jefferson made aiming to improve slave's working and living condition.
While summarizing what he considered to be his greatest contribution to the world, Thomas Jefferson ranked his effort to introduce dry rice from East Asia into South Carolina in as high regard as his drafting of the Declaration of Independence. One author pointed out that Thomas Jefferson‘s interests in introducing Asian plants ―tied up with the agricultural and horticultural needs of the United States.  This is partially true because the author failed in realizing or ignored the more important reasons of Thomas Jefferson‘s efforts to bring Asian dry rice into North America. Indeed, Jefferson was an agriculturalist. However, Dr. Dave Wang’s recent research on Jefferson and Asian plants has revealed the fact that the introduction of dry rice reflected an important message: Jefferson had social value in his mind when he made his commitment to introduce the Asian plants into the United States.

Jefferson‘s efforts to transplant the dry rice revealed his determination to have it succeeded in the new nation, similar to how the other founding fathers, worked tirelessly to draw nourishments from Chinese civilization. However, Dr. Dave Wang’s examination of Jefferson‘s efforts to introduce Asian dry rice to the United States had led to his  finding of new reasons why the founding father worked hard to borrow from Asian cultures. There was an important agenda in Jefferson‘s mind to uplift the life quality of slaves. He had stated that one of his intentions of obtaining dry rice was ―for the purpose of improving the living conditions of the slaves and saving them from the ravages of disease that swept the Low Countries.

Jefferson‘s long term effort was driven by his following thinking: if the wet rice was replaced by dry rice, ―it would be a great happiness, as it would enable us to get rid of those ponds of stagnant water, so fatal to human health and life. In the meantime, Jefferson‘s connecting the transplanting Asian plants with his effort for bettering slaves working condition reveals another function of Asian civilization in the United States--help improve slave's life quality.

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