- Martin, William Alexander Parsons
- ( 182 7 - 1916 )longtime American missionary in ChinaDominating the second generation of American missionaries in China, W. A. P Martin's career of over 60 years set him apart as a missionary extraordinaire. Martin was born in rural indiana, the son of a Presbyterian minister. Following his graduation from New Albany Theological Seminary in 1849, he was ordained and married to Jan VanSant. In 1850, the couple moved to Ningpo, China, one of five treaty ports opened to Westerners in 1842 following the Opium War.As an active Chinese-speaking minister he was strategically placed to comment on the Tai P'ing Rebellion of 1850, led by the messianic pretender Hung Hsuin-Chuan (or Hong Xiûquân). He urged the United States to back the revolt. Later, he helped write the Treaty of Tientsin; he was responsible for the clause, "Any person, whether citizen of the United States or Chinese convert, who, according to these tenets, peaceably teach and practice the principles of Christianity, shall in no case be interfered with or molested." The treaty also opened up new parts of China to Christian missionaries.In 1862, Martin moved to Shanghai and the following year to Beijing. He taught at Tong Wen Kuan (interpreters' school) at the Imperial University. He edited the Peking Magazine, calling for reforms in Chinese society. He wrote articles for the New York Times interpreting China, as well as a number of books in both Chinese and English. In Chinese, his most important texts were the Evidences of Christianity, a comparative study of Christianity and other faiths, and a seven-volume set on natural philosophy. In English, he authored a number of lighter works on the history and culture of China. Historians have come to see his major contributions as opening China to missionary activity and interpreting China to the West.Further reading:■ Ralph R. Covell, W. A. P. Martin: Pioneer of Progress in China (Washington, D.C.: Christian University Press, 1978); , "W. A. P. Martin (1827-1916): Promoting the Gospel through Education and Science," in Gerald H. Anderson, et al., eds. Mission Legacies: Biographical Studies of the Modern Missionary Movement (Maryknoll, N.Y.: Orbis Books, 1998): 183-89■ William A. P. Martin, A Cycle of Cathay (New York: Fleming H. Revell, 1897); , Siege in Peking (New York: Fleming H. Revell, 1900); , The Lore of Cathay (New York: Fleming H. Revell, 1912).
Encyclopedia of Protestantism. Gordon Melton. 2005.