William Ambrose Shedd

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William A. Shedd

William Ambrose Shedd (1865–1918) was a US Presbyterian missionary who served in Persia and tried to protect the Assyrian people from the genocide.

He was born January 24, 1865, in the little mountain village of Seir, overlooking the Urmia plain, from missionary parents who had come to devote their lives helping the Assyrian community. Upon the completion of his education at Princeton University, he spent the rest of his life among the Assyrian Christians of northwestern Iran. In 1904 he published a book called Islam and the Oriental Churches: Their historical relations.

In 1918 it became necessary for Dr. Shedd to disassociate himself from missionary work and to apply himself to consular work, as the US Consul in Urmia. He tried to reconcile the Assyrians and the Muslim Persians but without success.

In July 1918 after the Ottoman army advanced toward Urmia, the mass flight of Assyrian Christians from Urmia towards safety in British-occupied Iraq started. The flight that began in Urmia, ended in the Baquba camp north-east of Baghdad. Dr. Shedd and his wife, Mary Lewis Shedd, were with the Assyrians in this flight, and when they had reached Sain Ghala, Dr. Shedd died of cholera and was buried somewhere there. His body was later recovered by his wife and buried in the Christian cemetery in Tabriz.

Russian writer Viktor Shklovsky who was in Urmia in late 1917 mentioned Shedd's activities in his memoirs Sentimental'noe puteshestvie, vospominaniia (A Sentimental Journey) as one of the encouraging examples of humanism amidst the violence Shklovsky witnessed in Persia and Russia in 1917–20.

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