Reverend Issachar Jacox Roberts was, as far as is known, the only Western teacher ever to instruct Hung Hsiu-ch'üan, the leader of the Taiping Rebellion. Aware of his special relationship with Hung, Roberts was for many years enthusiastic about Hung's undertakings. This article is concerned mainly with an account of the dealings between the two men.

Born in Tennessee in 1802, Roberts studied at the Furman Theological Institution of South Carolina, and was ordained to the ministry in 1828. He preached for some time in Mississippi, where he owned property said to be worth $30,000. Using this property as a financial base, he organized the Roberts Fund and the China Mission Society. Upon arrival in China in 1837, Roberts took the Chinese name of Lo Hsiao-ch'üan (or Lo Heáou-tseuen). For his first five years in China, the missionary worked among the lepers at Macao. When his income became insufficient for his work there, he labored for a time as a saddler, joined the Baptist Mission in 1841, and in 1846 transferred to the Southern Baptist Convention. In 1844 Roberts, who was the first foreigner to live outside the restricted “factory” area, opened a mission in the city of Canton, which he used as a home base for the following twenty-two years of his missionary work. During this period, he returned to the United States only twice. His connection with the Southern Baptist Convention was dissolved in 1852, and thereafter he worked independently. He finally left China in 1866, and died of leprosy in 1871 at Upper Alton, Illinois.

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