Arthur Henderson Smith
Excerpt from: Claremont Courier (September 2, 1932)
Dr. Arthur Henderson Smith, 87, Christian statesman and one of the most remarkable men in the history of missionary enterprise, reached the end of his earthly life at his home, 620 Plymouth road, in Pilgrim Place, Claremont, California, Wednesday evening, August 31, 1932. He had been in failing health for several months.
Dr. Smith was born in Vernon, Connecticut, July 18, 1845, the son of a Congregational minister. He enlisted as a volunteer in Company B, 40th infantry of Wisconsin, and served in the civil war in the year 1864.
Graduate of Beloit
He was graduated by Beloit College in 1867 and studied in Andover Theological Seminary, Union Theological Seminary in New York City, and the College of Physicians and Surgeons of New York, in preparation for the work to which he had dedicated himself upon the foreign field.
In 1871 he was married to Emma Jane Dickinson of Beloit, Wisconsin. Together they went to China under the American board of foreign missions in 1872, where he served continuously for 54 years. His remarkable abilities as scholar and as administrator began early to manifest themselves. Very few men have known Chinese life so intimately or have been able to interpret it so accurately and vividly.
Nine volumes have come from his pen, including Chinese Characteristics, which has been translated into French, German, Chinese and Japanese, and The Uplift of China, which has been translated into German, Danish, Norwegian and Swedish.
Suggested Indemnity Return
Dr. Smith has much to do in organizing and distributing Chinese relief during various famines which have devastated China. He was present at the siege of Peking during the Boxer raid in 1900; and when the Chinese government proposed to pay to the United States an indemnity, he made a trip to America to suggest to President Roosevelt the return of the indemnity with the idea that it be used to make possible education of promising Chinese youths in American colleges. President Roosevelt cordially approved and put into operation the suggestion of Dr. Smith.
In 1906 the American board asked that he be relieved of all local responsibilities that he might become missionary-at-large to interpret through his voice and his pen the meaning of the missionary movement in this rapidly changing world.
Came Here in 1926
In 1926 he came to live in Claremont at the home of his lifelong friends and relatives, Rev. and Mrs. W. C. Merritt. When Mr. Merritt died in 1927 and it was proposed to erect upon Pilgrim Place a memorial for him as the first secretary whose devotion had made possible development of that important enterprise, Dr. Smith volunteered the funds with which to erect, in memory of his brother-in-law, the building to be known as the Merritt Memorial home. The building was completed in February, 1930. It adjoins the Mary Porter memorial on the north and it is fitting that these two buildings stand side by side. Miss Mary Porter, in whose brain and heart was born a vision of the enterprise was known as Pilgrim Place, was for nearly half a century in China; and the Smith and Porter families were lifelong friends.
Dr. Smith, his sister-in-law, Mrs. Merritt, and his niece, Mrs. Edna Adams, have made their home in the Merritt Memorial cottage since its completion in February, 1930. In these last years he often expressed his satisfaction in the development of Pilgrim Place and his joy in the home that has been provided.
Dr. Smith was well known to most residents of Claremont, having spoken on China and its many problems, history and culture before numerous community groups. He was actively interested likewise in the community of which he was a part.
Examples of Archives Holdings:
The Archives holds scattered letters from throughout Smith's life, many books and articles by and about him, as well as his Civil War diary. For an in-depth finding aid of all archival materials, click here.