M. Sempad Gabrielian was a well-known intellectual in the Armenian American community at the turn of the twentieth century and also a pioneer of the Armenian press in this country.
Gabrielian was born on December 15, 1856, in Agn, in the province of Sepastia, the future birthplace of poets Siamanto and Misak Medzarentz. He received his education in his hometown and then in Kharpert. He later taught Armenian for two years at the Aintab College, where he studied medicine from 1878-1881. In the meantime, he published his first book, Armenian Restoration (1879). After working for a while as a doctor in Agn, he went to Paris, where he studied medicine at the Sorbonne from 1884-1885. After graduation, he settled in Aintab, teaching at Aintab College and working at a hospital.
However, his book of 1879 was prohibited by the Turkish authorities, and to avoid persecutions, in 1886 Gabrielian was forced to leave the Ottoman Empire and make his way to the United States, where he would spend the rest of his life. In 1888, however, he published his tract The Past and the Future of the Armenian Protestantism in Constantinople.
Gabrielian settled in New York, where he worked as a doctor, but also actively participated in Armenian public life. Two years after the publication of Haigag Eginian’s Arekag, the first Armenian newspaper in the United States, he launched the biweekly Haik (1891-1898), which became a monthly in 1896. This informative and political periodical published material about the Armenian Question, the echoes of the American and European press about the situation of the Armenians in the Ottoman Empire, and news about the Armenian-American community. In 1895 Gabrielian was elected president of the Armenian Patriotic Federation, a non-partisan organization with the goal of helping to liberate Western Armenian from the Turkish yoke. He also published books in Armenian, like Art of Rhetorics (1891), Khrimian Hayrig (1892), Armenian National Policy (1893), Christian Armenia and Christian Powers (1896), and English (Facts about Armenia, 1895, and Bleeding Armenia, 1897, in collaboration with A. W. Williams). From 1894-1897 he studied at Columbia University, where he followed courses of history, sociology, and political sciences.
Gabrielian continued his activities after the 1900s, writing for Gochnag and the Mekhitarist journal of Vienna, Handes Amsorya. He published some more books in Armenian, where he collected his lectures and speeches, like The Armenian Crisis and Rebirth (1905; 2nd edition, 1909), and The Armenian Race (1911). He also produced a book of linguistics (The Provincial Dialect of Agn and the Armenian Modern Language, 1912) and a medical tract, Sexual Health (1915). He left several unpublished books, of which one of them, The Art of Raising Children, was published posthumously in 1920.
This prolific author passed away on June 3, 1919, in Weehawken (New Jersey), at the age of sixty-three.