Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
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OSCANYAN, Hatchik, author, born in Constantinople, Turkey, 23 April, 1818. His parents, who were Armenians, christened him Hatehik, which in after-years he changed to Christopher. He learned from private tutors the Armenian, Turkish, and modern Greek languages; to these he soon added Italian and French, and, having heard English spoken, he conceived a desire to acquire it also. To this end he made the acquaintance of the American missionaries that had then lately arrived in Turkey. One of these, Reverend Harrison G. O. Dwight, took an interest in him, and after the death of Oscanyan's mother enabled him to come to this country to obtain a liberal education. He arrived in New York in 1835 and was at once matriculated at the university in that city. Failing health compelled him to leave college in his junior year, and he joined the staff of civil engineers engaged in the construction of the Charleston and Cincinnati railroad. Returning to Constantinople in 1841, he established the first newspaper that was published there in Armenian, the "Astarar Ptizantian" (" Byzantine Advertiser"). But the authorities would not tolerate the expression of liberal opinions, and he was soon compelled to abandon the undertaking. In 1843 he became the private secretary of Fethi Pasha, son-in-law of the sultan, and minister of ordnance. While he was thus engaged he was appointed special agent to purchase the trousseau of Adile Sultana, who was about to be married to Mehmed Aali Pasha, and in this capacity he frequently visited the palace. After the ceremony he acted as correspondent for several American and European newspapers. In 1849 he wrote a satirical romance in Armeno-Turkish, or Turkish written in the Armenian character, entitled "Acaby." This was followed in 1851 by "Veronica," another work of fiction, and by " Bedig," a book for children. The same year he published an Armenian translation of " The Mysteries of Paris." In 1853, with the assistance of others, he opened an Oriental museum in London, but the enterprise was not successful and he returned to New York. Here he wrote and published " The Sultan and His People" (New York, 1857), 16,000 copies of which were sold in four months. In 1868 Mr. Oscanyan was made Turkish consul-general in New York city, and he held the office until 1874. Having occasion to visit Constantinople in 1872, he was assigned by the porte as the representative of the sultan in entertaining General William T. Sherman during his visit to Turkey. On resigning his consulship he again busied himself in literary pursuits in New York city, in which he is still (1"888) engaged. He has lately written another work on his native land and the libretto of a comic opera.
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