Ruism in Early America

Confucius, the latinized version of the name Kongzi (“Master Kong”) was one of the first and most important teachers of Ruism. The term Confucianism was coined by early Christian missionaries to refer to the Ruism.

Some people in the West still refer to Ruism as Confucianism, but this is slowly changing.

Some of America’s Founding Fathers–including Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison–expressed admiration for Confucius’ teachings. Although Ruist teachings were popular in colonial America, most 21st century Americans know very little about Ruism. What little we do know tends to be corrupted by myths, exaggerations, and stereotypes. It’s time to change that.

Confucius (left) is portrayed on the East Portico of the U.S. Supreme Court Building, alongside Moses and Solon.

To learn more about the influence of Confucius in Colonial America, check out the excellent historical blog, The U. S .Founders and China.

About the Author

Ben Butina, Ph.D.
Ben is the President and co-founder of the Ruist Association of America, Inc. and Friends from Afar, an English-speaking Ruist discussion group on Facebook. He's also the creator of, a modern English adaptation of the Analects of Confucius.