The Defense of Elder James White and Wife- Contents
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“PLEASE REGARD THIS
“Some time since, Eld. M. E. Cornell wrote to this Office a statement of a very wicked slander against Sr. White, uttered by a woman in Vermont, the wife of an Episcopal minister. It was not deemed worthy of any notice at that time; but the use since made of it, by some persons, seems to demand our attention. We therefore request of Eld. C. a definite statement of this case, that we may give it proper attention. And we will add to this, an urgent request that all persons who know any evil of Sr. W., or who have, as they think, good authority from others for believing evil of her, to write a definite statement of such things to this Office. Such statements shall receive proper attention. Will all concerned regard this reasonable request, and write me, at this Office?DJWW 103.2
“The report, as nearly as I can recollect, was about as follows: That before her marriage Sr. White had two children; the elder of which she named Jesus. This is the substance of what Mrs. Morgan reported in Addison, Vt.”DJWW 104.1
Eld. Cornell called on Mr. Morgan, located at that time in Chelsea, Mass.; but he declined to make any statement beyond giving his authorities in Portland, Maine, the place of Sr. White’s former residence. These were Peter Johnson, and Mrs. Currier, formerly a near neighbor to Sr. White’s father. Not being able to visit Portland himself, Eld. Cornell wrote to S. B. Gowell, a merchant of that city, and a personal friend, asking him to visit the parties and obtain their statements. He gives the following statement of Peter Johnson, under date of Portland, Dec. 15, 1869:DJWW 104.2
“Mrs. White did not appear to be very bright before she was married. Could not say anything against her moral character. She run the ministers, but they did not take much notice of her, as it came from a woman.”DJWW 104.3
“I have been acquainted with Mrs. White and the whole family since her childhood. Mrs. White was as nice a girl as ever I saw. She had no child before her marriage. Such stories as Eld. Morgan’s wife is telling are an abominable shame. I never told her any such thing. Mrs. White came from a very nice family. Her father and mother were godly people.”DJWW 104.5
Such are the statements of the very persons who are referred to as the witnesses to substantiate this most monstrous story, and it will be noticed from the tenor of their testimony, that they have no sympathy with the position Sr. White occupies, or the faith she holds. But they speak as candid people who are acquainted with the facts. Such testimony cannot fail to be satisfactory to every candid mind. Were this story true, a multitude of witnesses could be furnished to sustain it. But we are referred to just two persons to sustain the story, and they wholly deny it. So the vile slander falls back upon the persons who have given it publicity in Vermont.DJWW 104.8
“Whereas, evil-disposed persons have spread abroad the statement that Sr. White was the mother of one or more children before she became a wife, this is to certify that we have been intimately acquainted with her since the fall of 1844; that is, from the seventeenth year of her age; and that we declare this statement a most wanton and malicious falsehood, having no foundation in truth, and having no excuse whatever for its existence. We have the utmost confidence in the integrity, virtue, and purity of character, of Sr. E. G. White.DJWW 105.2
“I was a resident of Portland, Me., from 1836 till 1865. I have had an intimate acquaintance with Sr. White, and with her father’s family since 1843. I bear cheerful and explicit testimony to the fact that the statement reported by Mrs. Morgan to the effect that Sr. White was the mother of one or more children before her marriage, is a wicked falsehood; there being no foundation for it whatever. I have never doubted the purity of her life during the entire period of my acquaintance with her.DJWW 105.4
“Mound City, Jan. 18, 1870. “In answer to your request in Review, No. 3, Vol. 35, I would state that a report against Sr. White has found its way to this part of Kansas, and has been circulated quite extensively, and generally believed, except by Adventists. Eld. Tapley, formerly from Michigan, a Wesleyan Methodist minister, says: Sr. White had a vision showing that Bro. White and Bro. King should exchange wives. He says that Bro. White was at that time very poor, but Bro. King was very rich; intimating that the difference in their circumstances was the cause of Sr. White’s desiring the exchange. And that she seizes the vision as a means of accomplishing it. He also says Bro. King came very near leaving the church on account of it; but they had finally got it settled. He says this happened at Bro. King’s, near the Orleans church, before Bro. White built his house in Montcalm; he thinks about the first trip that Bro. and Sr. White made after Bro. White’s recovery from his long sickness. I asked him if he believed Bro. King to be a truthful man; he said he did. Query again: If Bro. King denies this report, will you believe it to be false; and if he denies it, will you take the trouble to publicly correct this report wherever you have given it currency? To both of which he replied in the affirmative.DJWW 106.3
“Whereas, we have learned from Bro. J. H. Cook, of Mound City, Kansas, that one Eld. Tapley, formerly of this State, has reported in Kansas that Sr. White some time since had a vision in which she saw that Bro. S. H. King, elder of this church, should exchange wives with her husband, Eld. James White; this is to certify that the statement is unqualifiedly false, there being not one particle of truth in the report, nor any circumstance of the kind on which to base it.DJWW 107.2
S. H. KING.
NELSON R. STAINES.
SARAH M. HAMILTON.
I. A. OLMSTEAD.
E. H. OLMSTEAD.
A. W. MAYNARD.
RACHEL C. FARGO.
M. B. CYPHERS.
MARTHA C. CYPHERS.
H. M. GRAVEL.
“The statements said to be made by Eld. Tapley are false. Sr. White never had a vision at this place, nor in these parts, to my knowledge. Mr. Tapley has been in this neighborhood quite a good deal, and has some acquaintance with me, and he must know these statements to be false.”DJWW 107.6
Whether or not Mr. Tapley knew he was stating a falsehood, one thing is certain: he was circulating an evil report which was false, and that, no Christian man should consent to do. For the sake of the name of Christianity we regret that “ministers” are so frequently found circulating these base slanders.DJWW 108.1
In the winter of 1868-9 Eld. J. B. Goodrich held some meetings in Plymouth, Maine, and several were convicted of the truth and almost persuaded to obey God. But a woman — as mentioned in his letter — came from Corinna, and circulated reports against Sr. White somewhat of the nature of those told by Mrs. Morgan. She asserted them so confidently, giving the names of persons in Corinna by whom she said they could be proved, that she succeeded in raising such a prejudice against Bro. G. and all that he preached, that his meetings proved a failure. By request he went to Corinna to inquire into them, and he states the result as follows. His letter is dated Hartland, Me., Feb. 3, 1870:DJWW 108.2
“I have just returned from Corinna. In regard to the story I heard last winter at Plymouth, I was directed to Bro. Benjamin Moore, of Corinna. I was told he could tell me all about it. I have seen him, and he and his wife say they do not believe Sr. White to be any such a woman. They also said her visions did not lead them into the ‘shut door,’ as was reported, but they thought her visions were mesmerism. They said they heard she had been mesmerized for her health, and it had not properly been taken off. The woman that told me the story was not at home; she was at Dexter at work and I could not see her. I cannot find one of the old Adventists that will say he thinks Sr. White is such a woman.DJWW 108.3
“To-day I have been over to Samuel C. Spaulding’s. I was told he had reported that Eld. James White came to his father’s, in Palmyra, in 1842 or ‘43, with two girls which he call his spiritual wives; and that the brothers of one of them followed him to Augusta, and carried her back. Her name was Catharine Daggett. The name of the other, he never heard. He said it was the common talk at that time, but it was all hearsay. I asked him if he could prove it. He said he could not; he told it as a hearsay; he did not know that there was any truth in it; they had got many reports about the Adventists which were false.DJWW 108.4
“I called on Eld. Damman and wife, and had a talk with them. Eld. Damman has an old grudge against Bro. White for a letter he wrote him in 1845 or ‘46. He says he censured him to the wrath of God, and he thinks he had no reason to do so. And he said the next letter he received from him he said, Dear Bro. Damman; and he did not know how he could do it after writing him such a letter. That still remains in his mind. He says the most he ever saw in Eld. White and wife was, that when they were down there after the passing of the time (that was before they were married), they made a little more of each other than he thought they ought to; it might give the world a chance to talk, but they did not think anything of it at the time.DJWW 109.1
“So I hear reports, and go to those that I am referred to, and they prove to be nothing. It is strange that people cannot tell the truth. I have traced these stories but cannot find any proof.DJWW 109.2
The following is from Eld. Charles Stratton, of Cornville, Me., addressed to Eld. Goodrich. It is under date of March 7, 1870, from Palmyra, Maine. It appears that an Eld. B. P. Reed, a Christian minister (a minister, again!) reported as follows — we copy from Eld. Stratton:DJWW 109.3
“That Sr. Abigail C. Judkins, then of Palmyra, said that James White and Ellen Harmon came to their house in the night and wished to stop; that they sat up nights and lay abed days; and that their conduct was such that she would not have them in her house; and that they said the reason they traveled in the night was, they were afraid of the authorities, etc. But on visiting Bro. and Sr. Judkins, we found them to be very good, candid people. And this is the run of their statement: That Bro. James White and Ellen Harmon, in company with other brethren and sisters, went to their house, in Palmyra, and wished to hold a meeting, and did so; which was very good. They stayed two days and then went to his father’s. We saw nothing in their conduct that was wrong, nor have we ever made such report. We have always known him from a boy, and we do not know, nor ever have known, anything against his moral character.”DJWW 109.4
These people were residents of Palmyra, the town in which Eld. White was born, and were members of the same church with him in his younger years, and this testimonial is worthy of careful consideration, as it fully shows the falsity and maliciousness of the report circulated against him.DJWW 110.1
Many have supposed that these reports must be true, as they came from Maine, the native State of Sr. White, and where her early life was spent. But we have gone to the State of Maine to trace them out, with what success you have seen.DJWW 110.2
Some have referred to Eld. Damman as one who could authenticate these reports, having traveled with Bro. and Sr. White, and been well acquainted with their early labors. So he was. If there were any immoralities to expose, he could expose them. But he frankly says that he saw or knew nothing that they thought anything of at the time. The evil of these things was an after thought, brought in by evil-disposed persons. While those who have known both Bro. and Sr. White from their childhood say they never knew anything against their moral character.DJWW 110.3
In regard to the feelings of Eld. Damman, we only need to say, that Bro. White felt that his first letter to him was too severe; and in his second letter, apologized for it. And therefore he did not think there was any inconsistency in addressing him, “Dear Bro. Damman,” as the same letter contained his apology. We are sorry that Eld. Damman did not receive this second letter in the same spirit in which it was written.DJWW 111.1
Another minister in Maine, of some standing (at least in his own estimation), has ever been ready to throw out insinuations and raise prejudice against the character of both Bro. and Sr. White. But when asked to tell what he knew against them, replied that he had no confidence in their religion!! We do not object to this. Indeed, we can return the compliment by saying we have no confidence in his religion; and this we can say in truth. But we should never think of denouncing him as a thief or murderer on this account.DJWW 111.2
A writer from Marion, Iowa, states that Sr. White has acted a false and hypocritical part relative to dress reform, in that she denied at one time all purpose to enter into any reform of this kind, when it is evident that she had such purpose formed in her mind. We think the utmost that can be claimed in support of this alleged contradiction, is the use of language not sufficiently guarded before those who would make one an offender for a word; and that words spoken against a certain ultra style of short dress have been used to show that she condemned all efforts at dress reform.DJWW 111.3
And now we ask, What can be the object of these slanders? Why are men and women who make a pretense to honesty and piety, so assiduous in circulating such vile stories, in which there is not one particle of truth? Who is it that instigates them in this base work? Whom do they serve in this iniquity? Have they questioned with themselves how God regards their malicious tale-bearing?DJWW 111.4
We have given the call issued for evidence against Bro. White, if any may exist, and a large number of responses favorable to him, none against him having been offered; also responses to a similar call made in 1863.DJWW 112.4
We have also examined into the origin of certain shameful slanders which have been used by ministers and others to destroy the reputation of Sr. White. We have gone to the State and place of her birth, and traced these vile stories from one to another till the fact of their falsity has been fully established.DJWW 112.6
The reports which have been circulated against these devoted servants of God are of such a nature that all candid and truth-loving people will readily justify us in taking hold of them; while the evidence we have presented is so full and clear that we think all will admit that nothing but prejudice or ill-will can resist its force. It is in our hearts to do strict and impartial justice to all; and we commend this, the result of our inquiries and labors, to all lovers of truth and justice, with the consciousness that we have done only our duty in the matter.DJWW 112.7