(1863) Seventh-day Adventists and the Civil War in the United States

Even before the first shots of the Civil War were fired, Ellen White, at Parkville, Michigan, on January 12, 1861, had been given a view of the coming conflict and its ferocity. The philosophy behind the war, and its ultimate outcome, had been opened up to her in the vision at Roosevelt, New York, on August 3, 1861. In Testimony No. 7 she opened her statement with words that threw light on the whole situation: 

God is punishing this nation for the high crime of slavery. He has the destiny of the nation in His hands. He will punish the South for the sin of slavery, and the North for so long suffering its overreaching and overbearing influence.—1T, p. 264. 

Making reference to the vision of August 3, she declared that she was “shown the sin of slavery, which has so long been a curse to this nation.” She referred to the unconscionable law of the land, the “fugitive slave law” that required the return to their masters of any slaves who escaped to the North. This, she said, was “calculated to crush out of man every noble, generous feeling of sympathy that should rise in his heart for the oppressed and suffering slave.” Months earlier she had written: 

The law of our land requiring us to deliver a slave to his master, we are not to obey; and we must abide the consequences of violating this law. The slave is not the property of any man. God is his rightful master, and man has no right to take God's workmanship into his hands, and claim him as his own.—Ibid., p. 202. 

When the laws of men conflict with the Word and law of God, we are to obey the latter, whatever the consequences may be.—Ibid., pp. 201, 202. 

As to slavery, she declared: 

God's scourge is now upon the North, because they have so long submitted to the advances of the slave power. The sin of Northern proslavery men is great. They have strengthened the South in their sin by sanctioning the extension of slavery; they have acted a prominent part in bringing the nation into its present distressed condition.—Ibid., p. 264. 

She provided the following insight into the situation: 

I was shown that many do not realize the extent of the evil which has come upon us. They have flattered themselves that the national difficulties would soon be settled and confusion and war end, but all will be convinced that there is more reality in the matter than was anticipated. . . . 

The North and South were presented before me. The North have been deceived in regard to the South. They are better prepared for war than has been represented. Most of their men are well skilled in the use of arms, some of them from experience in battle, others from habitual sporting. They have the advantage of the North in this respect, but have not, as a general thing, the valor and the power of endurance that Northern men have.—Ibid., pp. 264-266. 

The Battle of Manassas 

Ellen White was in vision taken to the scene of the Battle of Manassas; she was shown God's hand in what took place there:   

I had a view of the disastrous battle at Manassas, Virginia. It was a most exciting, distressing scene. The Southern army had everything in their favor and were prepared for a dreadful contest. The Northern army was moving on with triumph, not doubting but that they would be victorious. Many were reckless and marched forward boastingly, as though victory were already theirs.   

As they neared the battlefield, many were almost fainting through weariness and want of refreshment. They did not expect so fierce an encounter. They rushed into battle and fought bravely, desperately. The dead and dying were on every side. Both the North and the South suffered severely. The Southern men felt the battle, and in a little while would have been driven back still further. The Northern men were rushing on, although their destruction was very great.   

Just then an angel descended and waved his hand backward. Instantly there was confusion in the ranks. It appeared to the Northern men that their troops were retreating, when it was not so in reality, and a precipitate retreat commenced. This seemed wonderful to me.   

Then it was explained that God had this nation in His own hand, and would not suffer victories to be gained faster than He ordained, and would permit no more losses to the Northern men than in His wisdom He saw fit, to punish them for their sins. And had the Northern army at this time pushed the battle still further in their fainting, exhausted condition, the far greater struggle and destruction which awaited them would have caused great triumph in the South.   

God would not permit this, and sent an angel to interfere. The sudden falling back of the Northern troops is a mystery to all. They know not that God's hand was in the matter.—Ibid., pp. 266,267.   

Thus was revealed God's guiding hand in the affairs of the war.        

The Battle as Seen by a Southern Lieutenant Colonel W. W. Blackford, a lieutenant colonel in the Southern Army, in his book War Years With Jeb Stuart, gave a stirring account of what happened at Manassas in the battle of July 21, 1861:   

It was now about four o'clock and the battle raged with unabated fury. The lines of blue were unbroken and their fire vigorous as ever while they surged against the solid walls of gray, standing immovable in their front. It was on that ridge earlier in the day Jackson won the name of Stonewall.   

But now the most extraordinary spectacle I have ever witnessed took place. I had been gazing at the numerous well-formed lines as they moved forward to the attack, some fifteen or twenty thousand strong in full view, and for some reason had turned my head in another direction for a moment, when someone exclaimed, pointing to the battlefield, “Look! Look!”   

I looked, and what a change had taken place in an instant. Where those well-dressed, well-defined lines, with clear spaces between, had been steadily pressing forward, the whole field was a confused swarm of men, like bees, running away as fast as their legs could carry them, with all order and organization abandoned. In a moment more the whole valley was filled with them as far as the eye could reach.   

They plunged through Bull Run wherever they came to it, regardless of fords or bridges, and there many were drowned. Muskets, cartridge boxes, belts, knapsacks, haversacks, and blankets were thrown away in their mad race, that nothing might impede their flight. In the reckless haste, the artillery drove over everyone who did not get out of their way. Ambulance and wagon drivers cut the traces and dashed off on the mules. In [their] crossing Cub Run, a shell exploded in a team and blocked the way and twenty-eight pieces of artillery fell into our hands. 

Blackford's description of the disorderly and unaccounted-for retreat is vivid: 

By stepping or jumping from one thing to another of what had been thrown away in the stampede, I could have gone long distances without ever letting my foot touch the ground, and this over a belt forty or fifty yards wide on each side of the road. Numbers of gay members of Congress had come out from Washington to witness the battle from the adjacent hills, provided with baskets of champagne and lunches. So there was a regular chariot race when the rout began, with the chariots well in the lead, as was most graphically described by the prisoners I captured and by citizens afterwards. . . . Some of their troops, north of Bull Run, did not participate in the panic, and some did not throw away their arms, but the greater part must have done 

so, from the quantities we found.—W. W. Blackford, War Years With Jeb Stuart, pp. 34, 35 (see also DF 956). 

Years later a Mr. Johnson, who had been among the Confederate forces, told J. N. Loughborough: 

“I stood not four rods from General Beauregard when that stampede began. Beauregard had their cannons loaded with chain shot, and was about to fire. He looked toward the advancing host, and cried out: ‘The Yanks are all retreating. Don't fire the guns.”’ Brother Johnson said, “Had they fired that charge, they would have mowed everything down before them to the earth.”—PUR, March 21, 1912. 

What was unclear and puzzling to the Southern generals, and in fact to almost everyone, was clearly opened up in early 1862 to members of the remnant church in Testimony No. 7. 

The Church Given a Preview 

The Union and the Confederate forces, having gained a glimpse of the involvements and proportions of the struggle ahead, began to dig in for a long and bitter conflict. Near the close of the year the government appointed a day for the nation to unite in fasting and prayer. On Sabbath, January 4, 1862, God disclosed to Ellen White in vision many elements relating to the war, its prosecution, the philosophy behind it, the protracted struggle ahead, and the futility of national fasts, under the circumstances. 

It seems impossible to have the war conducted successfully, for many in our own ranks are continually working to favor the South, and our armies have been repulsed and unmercifully slaughtered on account of the management of these proslavery men. Some of our leading men in Congress also are constantly working to favor the South. 

In this state of things, proclamations are issued for national fasts, for prayer that God will bring this war to a speedy and favorable termination. I was then directed to Isaiah 58:5-7: . .. “Is not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke?” . . . I saw that these national fasts were an insult to Jehovah. He accepts no such fasts.—1T, pp. 256, 257.  

This put Seventh-day Adventists in a vantage position with an understanding of what to expect. In the lead article in Testimony No. 7, Ellen White declared: 

Thousands have been induced to enlist with the understanding that this war was to exterminate slavery; but now that they are fixed, they find that they have been deceived, that the object of this war is not to abolish slavery, but to preserve it as it is. . . . 

In view of all this, they inquire: If we succeed in quelling this rebellion, what has been gained? They can only answer discouragingly: Nothing. That which caused the rebellion is not removed. The system of slavery, which has ruined our nation, is left to live and stir up another rebellion. The feelings of thousands of our soldiers are bitter.—Ibid., pp. 254, 255. 

Referring to the treachery of Congressmen and of Union Army officers who were sympathetic with the South, she declared, “As this war was shown to me, it looked like the most singular and uncertain that has ever occurred.”—Ibid., p. 256. As to international repercussions she stated: 

I was shown that if the object of this war had been to exterminate slavery, then, if desired, England would have helped the North. But England fully understands the existing feelings in the Government, and that the war is not to do away slavery, but merely to preserve the Union; and it is not for her interest to have it preserved.—Ibid., p. 258. 

Bounties to Encourage Enlistment 

For a time to those in Battle Creek, the war seemed far away. Little was happening on the battlefields, and James and Ellen White were involved in the various church interests. 

But as the war progressed, the President issued calls for more soldiers. Each State was required to furnish a certain quota of men for each call, and this in turn was apportioned to each county, city, and ward. If the number of those who freely volunteered failed to 

reach the required quota, it would become necessary to institute a draft. To avoid this, ways had to be found to encourage the enlistment of men to make up the required number. To promote enlistment, citizens’ committees were formed in many municipalities; they arranged to offer bounties to be paid to recruits. Beginning at $25, they were soon raised to as high as $100 as more and more men were called to the front. 

Because Seventh-day Adventists were particularly anxious to avoid the threatened draft, which would involve Sabbathkeepers, James White heartily participated in the matter of raising funds to pay attractive bonuses to volunteers. Seventh-day Adventists as a rule were conscientiously opposed to the bearing of arms, yet they felt it to be their duty to join to raise money for the payment of the bonuses offered to volunteers who had no religious scruples against Army service. 

James White, J. P. Kellogg, and other leading Adventists attended and took part in a number of mass meetings of Battle Creek citizens. In these meetings there was free discussion of the activities of the war, but particularly the problem of furnishing the quota of men, if possible, without the necessity of the draft. White made it clear that Sabbathkeeping young men had not refrained from volunteering because they were cowards or ease-loving. Though they were generally poor, they would willingly contribute as freely as the well-to-do. 

W. C. White recounts: 

James White would relate to his wife some of his experiences in these mass meetings. Several of his associates would appoint him as their representative to offer their pledges to the fund at the most opportune time. So he would say in the meeting, “In behalf of my friend, A. B., who is subject to the draft, I am authorized to subscribe_____dollars. Also in behalf of my friend, C. D., who is not subject to the draft, but who is willing to share the burden of the bonus fund, I am authorized to subscribe _____dollars.”—DF 320, “The Spirit of Prophecy and Military Service,” p. 6. 

With no end of the war in sight, the church faced the certain threat of a national draft of able-bodied men. As the summer wore on, excitement ran high in the Northern communities; Seventh-day Adventists asked themselves what they would do in such a situation. From their ranks none, or almost none, had enlisted. They had maintained a low profile, but now they were being watched. Writing of this in early 1863, Ellen White explained: 

The attention of many was turned to Sabbathkeepers because they manifested no greater interest in the war and did not volunteer. In some places they were looked upon as sympathizing with the Rebellion. The time had come for our true sentiments in relation to slavery and the Rebellion to be made known. There was need of moving with wisdom to turn away the suspicions excited against Sabbathkeepers.—1T, p. 356. 

James White's Article “The Nation” 

By August, 1862, it seemed to James White that something must be said. He placed an editorial in the Review and Herald of August 12 titled “The Nation.” In this article he expressed his own opinion of the responsibility for the acts of the drafted soldiers. This was to cause considerable controversy. He wrote: 

For the past ten years the Review has taught that the United States of America were a subject of prophecy, and that slavery is pointed out in the prophetic word as the darkest and most damning sin upon this nation. It has taught that Heaven has wrath in store for the nation which it would drink to the very dregs, as due punishment for the sin of slavery. And the anti-slavery teachings of several of our publications based upon certain prophecies have been such that their circulation has been positively forbidden in the slave States. Those of our people who voted at all in the last Presidential election, to a man voted for Abraham Lincoln. We know of not one man among Seventh-day Adventists who has the least sympathy for secession. 

But for reasons which we will here state, our people have not taken that part in the present struggle that others have. . . . 

The position which our people have taken relative to the perpetuity and sacredness of the law of God contained in the Ten Commandments is not in harmony with all the requirements of war. The fourth precept of that law says, “Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy”: the sixth says, “Thou shalt not kill.” But in the case of drafting, the government assumes the responsibility of the violation of the law of God, and it would be madness to resist. He who would resist until, in the administration of military law, he was shot down, goes too far, we think, in taking the responsibility of suicide.—RH, Aug. 12, 1862. (Italics supplied.) 

In words of commendation and praise he referred to the United States, its government, and its laws: 

We are at present enjoying the protection of our civil and religious rights, by the best government under heaven. With the exception of those enactments pressed upon it by the slave power, its laws are good. . . . Whatever we may say of our amiable President, his cabinet, or of military officers, it is Christlike to honor every good law of our land. Said Jesus, “Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's; and unto God the things that are God's” (Matthew 22:21). Those who despise civil law should at once pack up and be off for some spot on God's footstool where there is no civil law.—Ibid. 

He then declared that “for us to attempt to resist the laws of the best government under heaven, which is now struggling to put down the most hellish rebellion since that of Satan and his angels, . . . would be madness.” He added: 

Those who are loyal to the government of Heaven, true to the constitution and laws of the Ruler of the universe, are the last men to “sneak” off to Canada, or to Europe, or to stand trembling in their shoes for fear of a military draft. Is God their Father? He is a mighty God. “Behold, the nations are as a drop of a bucket, and are counted as the small dust of the balance: behold, he taketh up the isles as a very little thing” (Isaiah 40:15).—Ibid. 

In explanation and defense of James White's position ventured on the draft—when it should come—a few weeks later Ellen White, in the heat of a very earnest discussion with various ones who were divided on the matter of the responsibility for actions of soldiers drafted into military service, declared: 

I was shown the excitement created among our people by the article in the Review headed, “The Nation.” Some understood it in one way, and some another. The plain statements were distorted, and made to mean what the writer did not intend. He gave the best light that he then had. It was necessary that something be said.—1T, p. 356. 

She wrote a statement that bridged several months of history: 

I was shown that some moved very indiscreetly in regard to the article mentioned. It did not in all respects accord with their views, and instead of calmly weighing the matter, and viewing it in all its bearings, they became agitated, excited, and some seized the pen and jumped hastily at conclusions which would not bear investigation. Some were inconsistent and unreasonable. They did that which Satan is ever hurrying them to do, namely, acted out their own rebellious feelings.—Ibid. 

James White's editorial was broad, covering many points in the relation that he suggested Seventh-day Adventists should take toward the issues and the government. But most readers focused attention on his opinion that in regard to the draft, it was the government, not the draftee, that was fully responsible for any violations of God's laws. 

The Review of August 26 carried his appeal for “any well-written articles, calculated to shed light upon our duty as a people in reference to the present war.” Mrs. T. M. Steward of Wisconsin had written to Ellen White inquiring on some points relating to the war, and the draft that seemed imminent. Ellen answered this August 19, 1862, just a week after the editorial had appeared. Without special light on the matter, a fact that she clearly acknowledged, she advocated a moderate stance: 

I am not fully settled in regard to taking up arms, but this looks consistent to me. I think it would please the enemy for us to obstinately refuse to obey the law of our country (when this law is not against our religious faith) and sacrifice our lives. It looks to me that Satan would exult to see us shot down so cheaply, for our influence could not have a salutary influence upon beholders, as the death of the martyrs. No, all would think we were served just right, because we would not come to the help of our imperiled country. Were our religious faith at stake, we should cheerfully lay down our lives and suffer for Christ. 

Now is the time we are to be tested, and the genuineness of our faith proved. Those who have merely professed the faith, without an experience, will be brought into a trying place. Young and old should now seek for an experience in the things of God. A superficial work will not avail now. We must have the principles of truth wrought deep in the soul, and practice it in our life, and then we shall be girded with strength in the day of trouble and conflict before us. We must trust in God now. His arm will sustain us.—Letter 7, 1862. 

And God did sustain the believers, and He provided a way of escape when the crisis finally came months later. 

The War and the Work of the Church 

The perplexities incident to the war increased as the rate of bounty was raised, necessitating still heavier calls for means from Seventh-day Adventists. Workers in the field reported difficulties in connection with attempts in evangelism. William Ingraham reported the Illinois tent was laid up because it was useless to pitch the tent in new fields during the war excitement (RH, Aug. 19, 1862). In Iowa J. H. Waggoner and B. F. Snook were arrested under martial law and detained till they secured a certificate from the county judge “setting forth their place of residence, their present occupation and calling.” The judge advised them to repair immediately to their homes, as they would be daily more and more liable to troubles and difficulties (ibid., Aug. 26, 1862). 

From Rochester, New York, M. E. Cornell reported: 

The war excitement was so great we had to adjourn for two nights. Our tent was used for the war meetings. I never saw such an excitement as there is here in Rochester. The streets are blocked up with the tents of recruiting officers. The stores are all closed up 3:00 to 6:00 P.M., and all are trying to induce men to enlist. War meetings every night.—Ibid.

Yet the difficulties that attended the holding of public efforts created compensating conditions. The troubles and perplexities sobered the hearts of ministers and laity. They sought the Lord more earnestly, they were more zealous in missionary activity in the communities where they lived, and the Lord blessed them with the salvation of many souls. 

Then in January, 1863, relief came to the ranks of Seventh-day Adventists in a comprehensive message penned by Ellen White in Testimony No. 9. The advertisement for the pamphlet appeared in the first issue of the Review published in the new year. It read: 

Testimony for the Church, No. 9, will be ready in a few days. It will be sent by mail, postpaid, for 12 cents a copy. Subjects—The war, and our duty in relation to it—Duty of parents and children—Danger of our ministers, et cetera.—Ibid., Jan. 6, 1863. 

It was again advertised three issues later, as follows: “Subjects— The war—Our duty in relation to it—Spirits lead our army, et cetera, et cetera” (ibid., Jan. 27, 1863). Believers had been reaching out for guidance. It was promised in this little forty-eight-page pamphlet. 

The content of this intriguing testimony will await discussion till the issues of the military draft are dealt with in chapter 4. 

Slavery and War Issues 

At this time a series of articles was running through the Review under the title “The Bible No Refuge for Slavery.” Wrote James White, “The subject of slavery naturally enough is being agitated more or less throughout the country. Believers in present truth are often met by opponents with the assertion that slavery is upheld by the Bible; and requests have been sent in that something be given on the subject through the Review.”—Ibid., Feb. 3, 1863. In accordance with the request, extracts from a book authored by Luther Lee were begun in the February 3 issue and were run as first-page articles for a period of three months. 

 (1863) Meeting Two Major Problems

The announcement on January 6, 1863, that in a few days there would be available to Seventh-day Adventists Testimony No. 9, with the lead article being on the war and Adventists’ duty in relation to it, brought assurance to the hearts of many, especially men of draft age and their families. Whether the article was based on a single vision or on several, we do not know, but Ellen White's repeated reference to what she was shown or what she saw makes it clear that a vision or visions formed the immediate background. The visions at Parkville, Michigan, January 12, 1861; at Roosevelt, New York, August 3, 1861; and at Battle Creek, January 4, 1862, put Adventists in the unique position of knowing, first, of the coming war and its ferocity and long duration, and then, its philosophy, with the assurance that God had a controlling hand in the affairs of the nation. They had an inside view of victories and losses and the potential of its becoming an international conflict. 

Now, a year later, there was further light for the church whose members regarded as binding the claims of the Ten Commandments, and who now faced the prospects of a national military draft. The counsel filled a good portion of the original Testimony pamphlet, and may be found in volume 1 of the current Testimonies, under the chapter title “The Rebellion,” pages 355-368. True to its advance notice, it contained counsel as to how Seventh-day Adventists should relate to the war. There was as yet no national draft. The men in the Army had volunteered for military service, thus surrendering all claims they might have to positions of conscience. It was on this 

basis that Ellen White wrote as she did. Conscription, although a real threat, was yet months away. 

Forecasts of the War's Outcome 

Again Ellen White presents to the church insights given her as to the final outcome of the conflict, and one reason that it was so protracted. 

God is punishing the North, that they have so long suffered the accursed sin of slavery to exist; for in the sight of heaven it is a sin of the darkest dye. God is not with the South, and He will punish them dreadfully in the end.—1T, p. 359. 

In the heart of the article there is further assurance, given at a time when the outlook was particularly dark: 

I saw that God would not give the Northern army wholly into the hands of a rebellious people, to be utterly destroyed by their enemies. I was referred to Deuteronomy 32:26-30.—Ibid.,p. 365. 

She quoted the scripture referred to, which points out that were it not for the manner in which enemies would look upon God's just dealing with His wayward people, blaming God for an appropriate retribution for a rebellious course of action, He would rally to their deliverance. Ellen White's remarks closed with the repetition of the view of the outcome: 

I saw that both the South and the North were being punished. In regard to the South, I was referred to Deuteronomy 32:35-37: “To me belongeth vengeance, and recompence; their foot shall slide in due time: for the day of their calamity is at hand, and the things that shall come upon them make haste. For the Lord shall judge his people, and repent himself for his servants, when he seeth that their power is gone, and there is none shut up, or left. And he shall say, Where are their gods, their rock in whom they trusted?”—Ibid., p. 368. 

Strange Factors at Work 

Separated from the full context of the chapter, the above statements concerning God's relation to those involved in the conflict may seem severe. However, her portrayal of conditions, no doubt based on both special insights and reports of what was going on, sets the stage. There were, among statesmen and generals, disloyalties, treachery, greed, and determination to use the war for personal advancement and supremacy. These elements removed from the Union forces the singleness of purpose necessary to reach a quick victory, and the crime of slavery prevented success to attend the South. In addition, Ellen White brings to view in this chapter another factor—that of the spiritualistic influence of evil angels guiding some of the generals in their decisions and strategies: 

Very many men in authority, generals and officers, act in conformity with instructions communicated by spirits. The spirits of devils, professing to be dead warriors and skillful generals, communicate with men in authority and control many of their movements. One general has directions from these spirits to make special moves and is flattered with the hope of success. Another receives directions which differ widely from those given to the first. Sometimes those who follow the directions given obtain a victory, but more frequently they meet with defeat.—Ibid., pp. 363, 364. 

She contrasted the guidance God would give with that of the great adversary, Satan himself: 

The great leading rebel general, Satan, is acquainted with the transactions of this war, and he directs his angels to assume the form of dead generals, to imitate their manners, and exhibit their peculiar traits of character. The leaders in the army really believe that the spirits of their friends and of dead warriors, the fathers of the Revolutionary War, are guiding them.  

If they were not under the strongest fascinating deception, they would begin to think that the warriors [supposedly] in heaven (?) did not manifest good and successful generalship, or had forgotten their famed earthly skill. 

Instead of the leading men in this war trusting in the God of Israel, and directing their armies to trust in the only One who can deliver them from their enemies, the majority inquire of the prince of devils and trust in him. Deuteronomy 32:16-22. Said the angel: “How can God prosper such a people? If they would look to and trust in Him; if they would only come where He could help them, according to His own glory, He would readily do it.”—Ibid., pp. 364, 365. 

Counsel to Seventh-Day Adventists 

Ellen White set forth principles that should guide Seventh-day Adventists in their relation to the war. 

I was shown that God's people, who are His peculiar treasure, cannot engage in this perplexing war, for it is opposed to every principle of their faith. In the army they cannot obey the truth and at the same time obey the requirements of their officers. There would be continual violation of conscience. Worldly men are governed by worldly principles. . . . But God's people cannot be governed by these motives. . . . 

Those who love God's commandments will conform to every good law of the land. But if the requirements of the rulers are such as conflict with the laws of God, the only question to be settled is: Shall we obey God, or man?—Ibid., pp. 361, 362. (Italics supplied.) 

When this statement was published in January, 1863, there was not yet a draft. Military service in the Union forces was on an enlistment basis. 

In connection with the attitude Seventh-day Adventists should take to the war, Ellen White wrote on what their relation should be to the government of the nation: 

I saw that it is our duty in every case to obey the laws of  our land, unless they conflict with the higher law which God spoke with an audible voice from Sinai, and afterward engraved on stone with His own finger. “I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people.” 

He who has God's law written in the heart will obey God rather than man, and will sooner disobey all men than deviate in the least from the commandment of God. God's people, taught by the inspiration of truth, and led by a good conscience to live by every word of God, will take His law, written in their hearts, as the only authority which they can acknowledge or consent to obey. The wisdom and authority of the divine law are supreme.—Ibid.,p. 361. 

Instruction Concerning the Imminent Draft 

During the months of civil war, Adventists had been counseled to take a low profile, to say as little as possible but make it clear they had no sympathy with slavery. As the possibility of a national military draft loomed, some in Iowa, in the ministry and among the laity of the church, rushed ahead in making bold and boastful statements. They even petitioned the State legislature for exemption. Wrote Ellen White: 

In Iowa they carried things to quite a length, and ran into fanaticism. They mistook zeal and fanaticism for conscientiousness. Instead of being guided by reason and sound judgment, they allowed their feelings to take the lead. They were ready to become martyrs for their faith.—Ibid., pp. 356, 357. 

Asking if this led them to God or greater humility, she answered herself, “Oh, no! Instead of making their petitions to the God of heaven and relying solely upon His power, they petitioned the legislature and were refused.” She pointed out that this served only to bring Sabbath-keepers into special unfavorable notice, adding: 

I saw that those who have been forward to talk so decidedly about refusing to obey a draft do not understand what they are talking about. Should they really be drafted and, refusing to obey, be threatened with imprisonment, torture, or death, they would shrink and then find that they had not prepared themselves for such an emergency. They would not endure the trial of their faith. What they thought to be faith was only fanatical presumption.—Ibid., p. 357. 

Then she set forth the position that should be taken at that time, and later if there was a draft: 

Those who would be best prepared to sacrifice even life, if required, rather than place themselves in a position where they could not obey God, would have the least to say. They would make no boast. They would feel deeply and meditate much, and their earnest prayers would go up to heaven for wisdom to act and grace to endure. 

Those who feel that in the fear of God they cannot conscientiously engage in this war will be very quiet, and when interrogated will simply state what they are obliged to say in order to answer the inquirer, and then let it be understood that they have no sympathy with the Rebellion. . . . 

I was shown that as a people we cannot be too careful what influence we exert; we should watch every word. When we by word or act place ourselves upon the enemy's battleground, we drive holy angels from us, and encourage and attract evil angels in crowds around us.—Ibid., pp. 357-360. 

The records available regarding the impact of the war on Seventh-day Adventists in the various Northern States are meager. [THE WORK OF THE CHURCH HAD NOT YET ENTERED THE SOUTHERN STATES, HENCE THE PROBLEMS BROUGHT BY THE WAR WERE CONFINED TO THE NORTH.] It would seem that there was some diversity on how the States raised their quota of men in answer to President Lincoln's call to supply the ranks. A very few Seventh-day Adventists were drafted quite early. The Review of October 21, 1862, carries a letter from Martin Kittle, written from Camp Mansfield, Ohio. It opens: 

Brother White: I have been drafted into the United States service. As far as I know, I am the only one in Ohio. I feel anxious to know if any other Sabbath-keepers have been drafted from any other place.—RH, Oct. 21, 1862. 

Two weeks later, a letter to the editor contained this postscript: 

Brethren S. Babcock and H. Burdick of Clymer, Pennsylvania, received notice of their being drafted last Sabbath, and left Tuesday for Wellsborough, and from there to Harrisburg. 

Brother Babcock is anxious to have his Review continued, so that his wife may forward it to him as often as she can. He was in haste for the church in his place to be organized, but knew not why, but now rejoices that it was done in season for him to leave his companion and dear children under the watch-care of a body so constituted that when one member suffers, all suffer with it.—Ibid., Nov. 4, 1862. 

On March 3, 1863, the Congress of the United States passed a law calling for the enrollment of all men between the ages of 20 and 45; this would form the basis of a national draft. It now looked as if one man in three would be called to military service. Certain provisions of this act brought a sigh of relief to Seventh-day Adventists: 

That members of religious denominations, who shall by oath or affirmation declare that they are conscientiously opposed to the bearing of arms, and who are prohibited from doing so by the rules and articles of faith and practice of such religious denomination, shall, when drafted into the military service, be considered noncombatants, and shall be assigned by the Secretary of War to duty in the hospitals, or to the care of freedmen, or shall pay the sum of $300, to such person as the Secretary of War shall designate to receive it, to be applied to the benefit of the sick and wounded soldiers: 

Provided, That no person shall be entitled to the benefit of the provisions of this section, unless his declaration of conscientious scruples against bearing arms shall be supported by satisfactory evidence that his deportment has been uniformly consistent with such declaration.—"The Views of Seventh-day Adventists Relative to Bearing Arms,” pp. 3, 4. 

The Tide Begins to Turn 

With President Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation, effective January 1, 1863, the tide in the war began to turn. When a national fast was appointed for April 30, 1863, Seventh-day Adventists felt they could join in its observance, for the government was lining up more in harmony with the testimony of Isaiah 58. In early July a decisive battle was fought at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, with the Union forces gaining the victory. 

There were still many difficult days ahead, but the provision that by paying $300 a drafted Seventh-day Adventist could gain freedom from military service brought relief till well into 1864. The newly organized church had a breathing spell. Yet such a payment was equivalent to somewhat more than the wages for a year of employment, and James White saw the provision, as beneficial as it was, a threat to denominational income. He warned in an editorial in the Review, November 24, 1863, that many good causes could be found for the use of the Systematic Benevolence funds being gathered by the churches for the support of the ministry, as providing for the worthy poor, the care of war orphans, et cetera. He added:   

The advancement of the third message is the highest object on earth for which we can labor. Whatever suffering there may be elsewhere, this cause should be the last to suffer for want of means.   

Should our brethren be drafted, they should if necessary mortgage their property to raise the $300, rather than to accept means that should go into the Lord's treasury. We would say this even of our ministers. The draft will probably come closer and closer.     

We pay into the S. B. fund annually $40. Let that be used as designed. We have $40 more to help drafted ministers if needed. We say then let the plan of systematic benevolence be carried out sacredly, and let it accomplish its designed object, namely, to send forth the last merciful message to the world.—RH, Nov. 24, 1863. 

2BIO 34-53