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He entered Ohio Wesleyan University but left in 1861 to serve in the Civil War. He was business agent at Constantinople of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions (1867–72). From 1875 to 1892 he was the correspondent in Constantinople of the New York Tribune.
He was ordained a minister in 1880, and returned to the United States after resigning his commission as a missionary in 1901. He edited Report of the Ecumenical Conference on Foreign Missions (1900) and the Encyclopedia of Missions (1904). He wrote:
- Turkish Life in War Time (1881)
- Treaty Rights of American Missionaries in Turkey (1893)
- Constantinople and its Problems (1901)
- Blue Book of Missions (1905; second edition, 1907)
- A Moslem Sir Galahad (1913; second edition, 1914)