The Encyclopedia Americana (1920)/Parker, Peter

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PARKER, Peter, American Congregationalist clergyman, physician and diplomat: b. Framingham, Mass., 18 June 1804; d. Washington, D. C, 10 Jan. 1888. He was graduated at Yale in 1831, took his M.D. there in 1834, and, having taken the theological course as well, was ordained in the ministry in that year and sent to China as a missionary. He established a hospital for diseases of the eye at Canton immediately after his arrival, but found other needs for medical attention so urgent that he admitted a wide variety of cases, 2,000 patients being cared for in the first year. He gained fame as a surgeon, acted in the capacity of a preacher, and also trained a number of natives in medicine and surgery. He closed his hospital during the war between China and England in 1840 and revisited the United States, but returned to China in 1842 and reopened the hospital, increasing its staff and capacity. He severed his connection with the American Board of Missions in 1845, and while retaining charge of the hospital acted as interpreter for the United States embassy, serving as chargé d'affaires when the minister was absent. He returned to the United States for the benefit of his health in 1855, but in the same year accepted an appointment of the United States government as a commissioner to China, with power to revise the treaty of 1844. He remained in China in connection with this work in 1855-57 and then resigned. He was a regent of the Smithsonian Institute from 1868. Author of ‘Journal of an Expedition from Singapore to Japan’ (1838); ‘A Statement Respecting Hospitals in China’ (1841); ‘Notes of Surgical Practice Among the Chinese’ (1846), etc.