Sunday, November 20, 2016
478. Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Paine and Confucius
Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) and Thomas Paine (1737-1809) were the two founders that pointed out the importance of morals during the inception of the
. In 1778, two years after American colonists
declared their independence, United
emphasized the significance of morality. He pointed out the necessity of
governing with morality, especially for the leaders of the Franklin .
He told fellow Americans that laws were not enough for the new nation. He used
his experiences to advice Americans on the importance of virtues. United States raised the
question, “What can laws do without morals?” He clearly expressed that he
believed, without morals, the human society “will
in a course of minutes become corrupt like those of other and older bushes, and
consequently as wretched.” Franklin
Thomas Paine believed that Confucian morals were necessary for politicians in their political debate. He raised Confucius’ virtual principles during his political polemic with the federalists. To support his argument against the federalists, Thomas Paine quoted Confucian moral principles to criticize their moral faults. He told these federalists to follow Confucian teachings so they could be worthy to argue with: “I recommend to them the observance of a commandment” regulated by Confucius, “that existed before either Christian or Jew existed.” He then listed Confucius principles “Thou shalt make a covenant with thy senses, With thine eye, that it beholds no evil. With thine ear, that it hear no evil. With thy tongue, that it speak no evil. With thy hands that they cemmit no evils.”
 Benjamin Franklin, To Madame Brillon: “The Ephemera” AL (draft): Cornell University Library; French translations: American Philosophical Society (three), Bibliothèque de la Société Eduenne, Autun, Institut de France; copy or transcript: Yale University Library; incomplete copy: Huntington Library.
 Thomas Paine in 1802? , The Political Works of Thomas Paine, 2 vols., [in 9 pt.],
, 1864, p.15.
Paine quoted from Confucius’ following teaching maxims to Yan Yuan, one of his
well-known students: "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." (Section 12 of the Analects). Oxford