Guide to the Papers of Charles D. Tenney, circa 1919 - 1986Manuscript MS-794

Biography

Dr. Charles Daniel Tenney was born at Boston, Massachusetts, on June 29, 1857. He was educated at Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire, receiving his B.A. and M.A. degrees in 1878 and 1879, respectively, and an honorary degree of LL.D. in 1900.

Tenney's connection with Tientsin, China dated from 1886 when he became the tutor to the sons of Viceroy Li Hung-chang. He also organized the Anglo-Chinese School and was its principal from 1886 to 1895.

In 1895 Dr. Tenney was selected by the Chinese Government as first President of Peiyang University, holding the post for eleven years. Educational work in North China was interrupted by the Boxer Rebellion of 1900. Tientsin was occupied by foreign troops and a provisional government for the district was set up by them. Dr. Tenney served as Chinese Secretary of the Tientsin Provisional Government from 1900 to 1902.

In 1902 he made a trip to Berlin to take up with the German Government the question of compensation for the incorporation in the German Concession at Tientsin of the original site of Peiyang University. He was successful in obtaining an indemnity for the seized property, thereby enabling the University to erect new buildings at Hsiku in the north suburbs.

In 1906 Dr. Tenney retired as President of Peiyang University and was appointed Director of Chinese Government students in the United States, in which capacity he remained until 1908, making his headquarters at Cambridge, Massachusetts. He brought with him to the United States for further study about thirty members of the Senior Class of Peiyang University. Among their number were: Dr. Chao T'ien-lin, who later was President of the University; Liu Jui-heng, who became Minister of Health and a leader in the medical profession; Chung Shih-ming, who became Minister of Finance in the military government of Chang Tso-lin at Peking; Ch'ien Fang-shin, who served as Chief Inspector of Salt Revenue; and Liu Ching-shan, who became Chief of the Department of Railway Administration of the Ministry of Communications. The other members of the group all had careers in the fields of engineering, communications and finance.

In 1908 Dr. Tenney left the service of the Chinese Government and entered that of the United States in the position of Chinese Secretary of the American Legation at Peking. In 1909, while serving as Chinese Secretary, he was appointed an American Delegate to the Joint International Opium Commission at Shanghai.

In 1912, Nanking having become the capital of the Revolutionary Government set up in that year by Dr. Sun Yat-sen, Dr. Tenney was sent there as Consul.

He was advanced to Secretary of Legation, Class I, and Counselor of Legation in 1919 and from September of that year to July, 1920, he was United States Charge d'Affaires at Peking.

Dr. Tenney returned to America in October, 1920, and retired from the Service on March 1, 1921, making his home at Palo Alto, California.

In 1923 he revisited China and, while at Peking, he suffered a stroke from which he never recovered. He died at Palo Alto on March 14, 1930.

Dr. Tenney was the recipient during his lifetime of the following decorations of the Chinese Government:

Chinese Double Dragon, Third Class, No. 1, 1895 Chinese Double Dragon, Second Class, No. 3, 1903 Chiaho, Second Class, 1921.

He was the author of the following textbooks;

"Tenney's English Lessons," 1890"Tenney's English Grammar," 1892"Geography of Asia," 1898.

- adapted from an account of Raymond Parker Tenney, third son of Dr. Tenney.

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