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Peter Parker

1804-1888. First medical missionary to China. Born in Framingham, Massachusetts, he studied both medicine and theology. The American Board sent him out in 1834, and in the following year he opened an eye hospital in Canton, the first Christian hospital in the Far East. In 1838 he helped organize the Medical Missionary Society in China and opened a hospital in Macao. After the first Opium War he was drawn more and more into diplomatic affairs, though continuing his medical missionary work. He helped negotiate the first treaty between China and the USA in 1844. The next year he left the mission and became secretary of the American legation. From 1855 to 1857 he was commissioner and minister plenipotentiary to China and helped revise the treaty. Ill-health forced him to spend his last thirty years in Washington, D.C., where he was elected regent of the Smithsonian Institution and interested himself in Christian enterprises such as the American Evangelical Alliance.