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History 101.18

The below article was written by Dr. Eugene Murphey and was published in The Tower newsletter of August 2006.

The last, but certainly not the least important, missionary figure in the center stained glass lancet window is the chancel area of the church sanctuary is that of  John Leighton Stuart, which is seen just below Christ and the oxen yoke symbol.

Stuart was born in China in 1876 to American parents and was educated in the United States but returned to China as an educational missionary; he first served as a teacher at the University of Nanking, then a small Christian missionary institution.  His successful work there as an educator and administrator led him to be selected in 1919 as the first president of Yenching University, previously known as the University of Peking.

In 1946 Stuart was named United States Ambassador to China, but the Communist take over of China three years later was undeservedly blamed on him and, he was in political circles lampooned and satirized by the Communist leader Mao Zetong.  As a result of these adversities, his many great contributions to education and Christian missionary work have been suppressed and would have been forgotten had it not been for Stuart’s friendship and collaborations with William Bacen Pettus, a Mobile, Alabama native and boyhood friend of Stuart.  A 1905 graduate of Columbia University in Missouri, Pettus and his wife went to Shanghai, China in 19056, and he soon began an intensive study of Chinese language and culture, receiving his Mater’s Degree at the University of Nanking in 1910.  Because of his intense interest in the Chinese language, literature, and culture, the Foreign Mission Board appointed him president of the College of Chinese Studies in 1916.  He later developed this small college into a world center for Chinese studies for foreign nationals in China.

Through their respective institutions, the collaboration of Stuart and Pettus, in educating the Chinese about modern Western education, religion, and culture, and Westers in Chinese language and civilization resulted in the production of numerous outstanding diplomats, journalists, scholars, and professors in both worlds.  We have Claremont College in California to thank for preserving in their archival collection and publicizing the tremendous works and contributions of these two important men in our church and secular histories.

-Eugene M. Murphey, M.D.