Confucius influenced America's founding fathers: scholar

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Confucius had great influence on the thinking of America's founding fathers, Professor Patrick Mendis, associate-in-research of the Fairbank Center of Chinese Studies at Harvard University, told the 8th World Confucian Conference held at the Shangri-la Hotel in Qufu, east China's Shandong Province.

Prof. Mendis delivers his keynote speech on the Confucian inspiration to the American founding fathers and their new republic. [Photo provided to] 

Over 300 scholars from more than 30 countries attended the three-day event. High-ranking officials from the central, provincial and local governments participated at the opening ceremony in the National Confucius Research Institute of China.

Prof. Mendis is a visiting researcher there, as well as a senior fellow of the Pangoal Institution in Beijing.

Author of more than 100 books, articles, and government reports, he published his most recent book "Peaceful War: How the Chinese Dream and the American Destiny Create a Pacific New World Order", also in Chinese.

"The confluence of Confucian heritage and Chinese culture had a remarkable influence on American founding fathers," he said in a keynote speech to the opening ceremony, drawing on research for two of his most noted books -- "Trade for Peace" and "Commercial Providence" -- on American history and political governance.

"Benjamin Franklin was America's Confucius. He and other founding leaders of the United States such as Thomas Paine and Charles Thompson wrote about Chinese culture, its civilized people, and Confucian ideas,” the Harvard scholar added.

After undergoing the American Revolution and the victorious 1812 War with their mother country of England, the founding generation of the United States looked to China for inspiration, Professor Mendis explained.

With the Louisiana Purchase from France, President Thomas Jefferson searched for a short-cut to China through the Columbia river-navigation to Seattle for "the purpose of commerce."

Professor Mendis also pointed to the public honoring of Confucius along with Moses and Solon as lawgivers on the US Supreme Court building in Washington, DC.

This is significant to the United States as a global nation, he added. While the Western philosophical traditions signify law and order, Confucian morality and human virtues are critically important for republican governance. The professor illustrated these points by the writings of Franklin, Paine, and Thompson.

Even today, a revival of Confucian ideals and Chinese culture is underway among many Americans, as there are more than 100 Confucius Institutes in universities and colleges in almost every state in the United States, he added.

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