Saturday, April 30, 2016

445. ‧Educated American Colonials and Founders

In the following I provide you with paragraph from National Taiwan University Professor Kirll O. Thompson's convincing article, in which he elaborated Dr. Dave Wang's pioneer research on American founding fathers' borrowing from Chinese civilization in the process of the American founding.

Professor Thompson has realized that , "Many Western intellectual historians of the 17th and 18th centuries only register classical Western sources and discount East Asian sources as too far afield." However in this academic milieu, Dr. Dave Wang opened the new field in the study of the founding of the United States and the founder's efforts to use positive elements from Chinese civilization to build a new nation in North America.

"In several studies, Dave Wang has shown that 18th century American colonials and founders admired Confucius and consciously adopted Confucian values and virtues.[3] The positive reception of Confucius' ideas can be observed vividly in the house of James Madison (1751-1836), where hangs an honored portrait of Confucius. Thomas Paine (1737-1809) saw Confucius as of the same caliber and stature as Jesus and Socrates. Interestingly, Madison and Paine represented two poles in early American politics. To Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790), Confucius' ethics was valuable to the human being in general. And, Thomas Jefferson promoted Confucius' moral principles in his inaugural speech in 1801. In his personal notebook, Jefferson included a poem about an ideal Chinese prince that was selected by Confucius (Great Learning; Daxue 大學, ch. 3). John Adams (1735-1826) and Benjamin Rush (1746-1813) also honored Confucius in their making a blueprint for the new nation.
  Certainly, the founders were concerned about such bottom line issues as taxation without representation, civil liberties, and economic freedom, but they also focused on concerns of public and private morality. For them, the Revolutionary War was as much a fight against the corruption of British high society as it was for politico-economic reasons. The founders wanted new virtues for the new nation to unfold as a healthy democracy, and drew on moral resources from around the world in devising new virtues, including notably Confucian ideals, virtues, and ethical precepts."

Sunday, April 24, 2016

444. Confucius, Thomas Paine and the Three Wise Monkeys

Several weeks ago, Mr. Jeffrey Bingham Mead, the President of History Education Council of Hawaii State, mentioned to me that he found a statue of three wise monkeys at a store in Manhattan. I was interested in it. I know that Dr. Dave Wang has mentioned the three moral principles of Confucius symbolized by the statue in his paper, Confucius in American Founding. According to Dr. Wang, Thomas Paine, the author of Common Sense, quoted the three moral principles in his argument with the federalists. Today, Jeffrey sent me the photo he took yesterday when he had a business lunch with some friends. Thank you Jeffrey, for the great picture. Please enjoy the photo.

In the meantime, I feel I should also show you the translation of the Confucius moral principles below:

 非禮 勿 視, 非禮 勿 聽, 非禮 勿 言, 非禮 勿 動.」

論 語

Confucian Analects


Book XII: Yen Yûan

Chapter 1

How to attain to perfect virtue:-- a conversation with Yen Yüan.
1. Yen Yüan asked about perfect virtue. The Master said, "To subdue one's self and return to propriety, is perfect virtue. If a man can for one day subdue himself and return to propriety, all under heaven will ascribe perfect virtue to him. Is the practice of perfect virtue from a man himself, or is it from others?"
2. Yen Yüan said, "I beg to ask the steps of that process." The Master replied, "Look not at what is contrary to propriety; listen not to what is contrary to propriety; speak not what is contrary to propriety; make no movement which is contrary to propriety." Yen Yüan then said, "Though I am deficient in intelligence and vigor, I will make it my business to practice this lesson."

Saturday, April 16, 2016

443. Dr. Dave Wang's Paper Discussed by American Creation Blog

The following is from the blog, American Creation,---A group blog to promote discussion, debate and insight into the history, particularly religious, of America's founding.

"Well, the understanding of Eastern philosophies was fairly shallow in the 18th century. Even 19th century Transcendentalists like Emerson had only the vaguest acquaintance with Buddhism, for instance. It's not the depth of the founder's understanding of Confucianism I find commendable, but the breadth of their spiritual interest and their curiosity in seeking out non-Western traditions as sources of possible religious insight.

In citing Franklin as one of the founders who expressed interest in Confucius, I am not understating or minimizing the depth of his theological thought. Obviously, he was an intensely moral man, and David Wang on the faculty of St. John's College has written a paper on Franklin's debt to Confucius for the program of ethical self-improvement that he lays out in the Autobiography. Franklin was intensely devout in the sense of being scrupulous, principled and contemplative--but also unorthodox in his opinions, embracing a freethinking attitude toward revelation that could consider Confucius, along with the Bible, in his personal canon."  (by Revolutionary Spirit )

Sunday, April 10, 2016

442. Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and Chinese Civilization

                It is well-known that "for much of their history, Americans defined their society in opposition to Europe."[1] "America, it was argued, was a distinct civilization."[2] George Washington had believed that the new nation would develop a unique American character.[3] Thomas Jefferson alleged American civilization was the part of a form of civilization higher than the polished societies of Europe.[4] US cultures have evolved and absorbed elements from other cultures in the historic process of the formation of American civilization. American civilization drew positive elements from other major civilizations of the world, including Chinese civilization. In contemporary society, American political leaders have also clearly realized the influence of Chinese civilization on the development of American civilization. Bill Clinton pointed out that China as a stronghold of creativity, knowledge and wealth had an impact on American life long before the United States was even born. He told Americans that From the printing China invented to the poetry it produced, from medicine and mathematics to the magnetic compass and humanistic philosophies, many of Chinas earliest gifts still enrich our lives today.[5]

            The founding fathers of the United States were among the main weavers of the fiber of American civilization. Benjamin Franklin, George Washington and Thomas Jefferson had positive attitudes towards Chinese civilization and worked hard to borrow from it in their efforts to make a new and flourishing society in North America.[6] Benjamin Franklin studied and promoted Confucian Moral philosophy in his effort to cultivate his own morals as well as to encourage Americans to do the same. George Washington personally conducted an experiment to grow Chinese flowers in his garden. Thomas Jefferson incorporated Chinese architectural elements into his own buildings in Monticello. 

[1]  Samuel P. Huntington, The Clash of Civilizations and Remaking of World Order, Simon & Schuster, Rockfeller Center, New York, 1996, P.46.
[2]  Ibid.
[3]  A. J. Langguth, Union 1812: The Americans Who Fought the Second War of Independence, New York, Simon & Schuster, 2006, p.4.
[4]  Robert W. Tuck and David C. Hendrickson, “Thomas Jefferson and American Foreign Policy,” in Foreign Affairs, Spring 1990, Vol. 69, Issue 2, p.135.
[5]  Bill Clinton, Remarks at a state dinner Honoring President Jiang, October 29, 1997, Executive Office of the President, Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents, Weekly Ending Friday, October 21, 1997 (Washington, D.C: US. Government Printing Office, 1997), 33: 1685-1686.
[6]  As for more information on the founding fathers connection with Chinese civilization, see Dave Wang, The Founding Fathers of the United States and Chinese Porcelain Ware, in Huaren-E Magazine, January 2008; Benjamin Franklin and Chinese Civilization, U.S China Relation Series, No. 2, New York, Outer Sky Press, August 2006; Benjamin Franklins Attitude toward Chinese Civilization, Social Science Journal of Harbin Institute of Technology, Issue 4, 2006; Benjamin Franklin and China: A Survey of Benjamin Franklins Efforts at Drawing Positive Elements from Chinese Civilization during the Formative Age of the United States, published since 2005 by the Official Website of the Tercentenary Commission. The paper is available at

Saturday, April 2, 2016

441. Northwest Times Reported Dr. Dave Wang's Presentation

I would like to present my readers the news report by Northwest Times on Dr. Dave Wang's speech at Valparaiso University in November, 2009. The forum was to increase understanding of the link between cultures in East Asia and the United States. The organizer of the forum told the reporter, "We hope to bring more depth of understanding to the kinds of cultural exchanges that happen in our societies and also build a better understanding of the relationship that currently exists between the United States and China,".
Dave Wang, a renowned scholar of China's influence on America's founding fathers, will speak about his personal experiences with East-West connections.

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