Friday, July 21, 2017

505 The US Dosn't Understand Chinese Thought, Really?




Mr. Jeffrey Bingham Mead, the President of History Education Council of Hawaii State, sent me an article yesterday, Why the US Doesn’t Understand Chinese Thought – and Must..The writer of this article says, as a scholar of Chinese philosophy, he believes it’s at least as important to understand how China thinks. I totally agree with him. More importantly, the main founders of the United States agreed with him when this country was established.

Its author is Bryan W. Van Norden. According to him that universities in the United States should teach Chinese civilization. Clearly, it is well understood that Americans need to understand Chinese ideas. However, readers of this blog and Dr. Dave Wang's publications have been fully aware of Chinese cultural influence on the founding of the United States. During the formative age of this nation, the founders, such as Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson and others worked hard to borrow from Confucius moral principles in their efforts to start new virtue of the new nation.

Friday, July 7, 2017

503. The United States Develops out of West and East Civilizations


I have written this blog for over ten years. Readers of it are from all over the world. From Dr. Dave Wang's pioneering reseach they have learned historical fact that the founders of this nation draw positive elements from Chinese civilization and used the elements tireless in their efforts to create the new nation in north America.
I have to point out that it is impossible for anyone to ignore influence and contributions of Chinese civilzation on the development of the United States. It is a hard fact that the United States came into being not only because of West but also Chinese civilization. For exmaple, it was the Chinese merit system in selecting public civil servants that helped lifting the United States out from the century of corruption.


The acceptance of the Confucian merit system changed the history of the United States. To assume the merit system “is not merely a mode of procedure and an economy, but has become a vital question of principle and public morality, involving the counterpoise and in no small degree the stability of the government itself.”[1] The merit system elevated the United States up to “a new and higher standard in official life.”[2] It has been recognized that the adoption of the Pendleton Act “amounted to nothing less than [a] recasting of the foundations of national institutional power.”[3]
It was impossible to build a democratic society on the foundations of the Spoils System. When applied to American politics, the Spoils System caused tremendous turnover of federal employees with every new presidency in the White House. Public employees were chosen based on party affiliation rather than on their knowledge and dedication to their positions. As President Theodore Roosevelt aptly said, the spoils system “was more fruitful of degradation in our political life than any other that could have possibly been invented. The spoils monger, the man who peddled patronage, inevitably bred the vote-buyer, the vote-seller, and the man guilty of misfeasance in office."[4]
It took a great, combined effort to eliminate the Spoils System and return the United States to the democratic roots that Benjamin Franklin had originally envisioned. During America’s Century of Corruption, many presidents struggled with the inefficiencies of the system as well as disgruntled supporters who were denied government positions. Thomas Jefferson suffered a permanent blow to his reputation when he denied James Callender; James Garfield lost his life when he rejected Charles Guiteau. The civil service reform movement elevated the status of president beyond that of a “petty job broker” and restored faith in the nation’s founding principles by allowing any qualified person to serve his or her country.




[1] Dorman B. Eaton, Civil Service in Great Britain: A History of Abuse and Reforms and Their Bearing Upon American Politics, New York, Harper & Brothers Publishers, 1880, p.438.
[2] Ibid.,  p.VI.
[3] Stephen Skowronek, Building a New American State: The Expansion of National Administrative
Capacities, 1877-1920,  New York: Cambridge University Press, 1982, p.67.
[4] Theodore Roosevelt, U.S. Civil Service Commissioner, in a letter dated February 8, 1895.
[5] Thomas Jenckes, The Civil Service Report, p.124

 

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

502. Dr. Dave Wang's Gift for Celebration of the Independence Day


I was a little bit busier yesterday, July 4, 2017. Therefore I post it this post today to celebrate the 241st anniversary of the founding of the United States. Please don't feel surprised at reading Dr. Wang's paper of examining the founders' efforts to introduce Confucius moral principles in the time of unfolding the history of the United States. In the following please find the open paragraph of his paper:

Confucius and the founding of the United States don’t seem to be related. Confucius, the Latinized name of Kongzi (孔子) (c. 550-476 B.C.), was a great philosopher and educator who lived at the end of “the Spring and Autumn Period” (771-476 B.C.) in China. The founding of America in the 1770s was a period in which the founders of the United States waged their death-or-life struggle to overthrow the imperialist rule of the Great Britain.  However, despite their differences, a close relationship actually existed between them. The United States’ founders applied many values from Confucian moral philosophy while founding of the United States.[1] Their recognition of Confucian ideas can be seen in places such as the house of James Madison (1751-1836), the father of the Constitution and the Bill ofRights, which had a portrait of Confucius. In addition, Thomas Paine (1737-1809), author of Common Sense, considered the Chinese sage to be in the same category as Jesus and Socrates.[2] Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790), the Creator of the American Spirit, made the solemn statement that Confucian moral philosophy was valuable to the human being in general.[3] Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), the principal author of the Declaration of Independence, also promoted Confucian moral principles in his inaugural speech in 1801. In his personal scratch-book, Jefferson placed a poem about an ideal Chinese prince that was recommended by Confucius. Other founders such as John Adams (1735-1826) and Benjamin Rush (1746-1813) also regarded Confucius highly in their efforts to make a blueprint for the new nation. These founders urged the citizens of the United States to adopt positive elements from Confucian moral philosophy and follow these moral examples to cultivate and advance their own virtues
 



[1] Dave Wang, The US Founders and China: The Origins of Chinese Cultural Influence on the United States, Education About Asia, Fall, 2011, pp.5-11.
[3] Benjamin Franklin, Letter to George Whitefield, July 6, 1749. It is available on line at  http://www.historycarper.com/1749/07/06/the-example-of-confucius