The Legacy of W. A. P. Martin

By Covell, Ralph R. | International Bulletin of Mission Research, January 1993 | Go to article overview

The Legacy of W. A. P. Martin


Covell, Ralph R., International Bulletin of Mission Research


What is the most appropriate role for a missionary to take as he or she enters another culture in Christian witness? One that best fits the person's gifts? The one understood best by the receptor culture? A role that affords the best relationships with the country's leaders? A religious vocation? A secular position? These important questions and answers were debated long before the twentieth century. William Alexander Parsons Martin's life and ministry in China gave them special significance.

W. A. P. Martin, born in 1827 into the family of a pioneer Presbyterian preacher on the American frontier, graduated from the University of Indiana in 1846 and from New Albany Theological Seminary (later moved to Chicago and renamed McCormick Theological Seminary) in 1849. Caring for the "last preparatory measure," a quasi-requirement of the Board of Foreign Missions of the Presbyterian Church, he married Jan VanSant a mere ten days before sailing for China on November 23, 1849. Four sons were born to them in China: Pascal, Winfred, Newell, and Claude.

"Foremost American in China"

His first field of service was in Ningbo, one of the five treaty ports opened to foreign residence by the Treaty of Nanjing in 1842. During ten years of general missionary service in this South China port city, Martin involved himself in two major events of Chinese history. First, he went on public record to advocate to his government in four newspaper articles that it should support the Taiping Heavenly Kingdom, a large-scale revolt against the reigning Manchu government. Second, he participated actively in the American delegation that produced the Treaty of Tientsin, the second of the unequal treaties between China and the Western powers, which opened up the entire country to traders, diplomats, and missionaries.

After a short transition period of one year in Shanghai, Martin moved to Beijing in 1863 and, with an interruption of only three or four years, remained there until his death in 1916 at the age of eighty-nine. His work was complex and filled with many activities, both inside and outside of the institutional missionary enterprise, that related to religion, education, law, science, government, and reform.

During this period of sixty-six years in his adopted country, Martin earned the plaudits of both Chinese and American officials. The Chinese government granted him the rank of mandarin of the third class in 1885 and of the second class in 1898. He was a personal friend to the highest-ranking Chinese government officials. Three American universities awarded him honorary doctorates for his contribution to China-American relations. John W. Foster, secretary of state under President Benjamin Harrison, stated that either Martin or the Englishman Robert Hart deserved to be ranked "the most distinguished and useful foreigner in China" in the generation preceding the Boxer Rebellion.|1~ Charles Denby, U.S. minister to China in the early 1900s, called him the "foremost American in China."|2~ In a day of great missionaries in China, Martin stood out.

With such recognition among his contemporaries, why is Martin a "no-name missionary" in both Protestant and Catholic missionary circles today? He had hoped for exactly the opposite. In his will was a specific provision that Arthur Smith, a close friend, write his biography. Martin had amassed a large number of personal papers, published and unpublished writings, diaries, and other memorabilia to assist Smith in this task. At Martin's death, his third son, Newell, came to Beijing to settle his father's considerable business affairs. He picked up all of the materials that his father had prepared for Smith, and that is the last that anyone has heard about them! Apparently Smith, and later potential biographers, waited to no avail for these materials to be found. Only with these documents, they evidently reasoned, could an adequate biography be written of this significant missionary figure. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

The Legacy of W. A. P. Martin
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.