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The Prophetic Faith of Our Fathers, vol. 4

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    CHAPTER TWENTY-NINE: Unrivaled Battery of Millerite Periodicals

    I. Remarkable Range of Periodicals and Editors

    Periodical literature played a tremendous part in the Millerite movement. From first to last the power of the press, in this particular form, was one of the foremost factors in the success of this now vigorous, expanding movement. Apart from books, pamphlets, and tracts, the establishment of this amazing battery of periodicals for the propagation of their faith comprises one of the most outstanding achievements in religious journalism in proportion to size.PFF4 621.1


    The mere number and scope of these Millerite periodicals published between 1840 and 1844, and their geographical distribution and total circulation, is truly astonishing, as can best be visualized from the diagrammatic accompanying chart, on pages 624, 625. This graphic display is worthy of careful scrutiny and provides a view of the Millerite movement not obtained in any other way. As to frequency of publication, these journals included weeklies, biweeklies, monthlies, a quarterly, and—most amazing of all—as already noted, even a daily paper for a time. They went so far as to have a special paper for women, edited by two women preachers.PFF4 621.2

    These periodicals ranged in size from 4—page tabloids up to a scholarly 148—page quarterly. And their places of issuance were spread all the way from Montreal and Nova Scotia in the north, down to Washington, D.C., and Baltimore on the southern border; and they were scattered from Maine, Massachusetts, and New York in the east, out to Cleveland and Cincinnati in the west. The parent Signs of the Times of Boston—continuing as the Advent Herald—was edited by J. V. Himes, Sylvester Bliss, and Apollos Hale. The daily paper, Midnight Cry of New York City, was edited by Nathaniel Southard. The Western Midnight Cry in Cincinnati was directed by Enoch Jacobs, and a Southern Midnight Cry at Washington, B.C., and then at Baltimore, Maryland, was under the care of J. V. Himes.PFF4 621.3

    The signs of the times, the parent journal, started by himes in boston; the New York midnight cry, at first a daily; the trumpet of alarm, published by litch in Philadelphia; the voice of truth, issued by Joseph Marsh at albany, New York; the voice of Elijah, Canadian journal with inset of editor, Dr. Richard Hutchinson; and the Advent message to the daughters of zion, a paper for women edited by women. From Mainy? to the mississippi, and From Quebec to Washington, D.C., the Land Was Blanketed by Millerite Journals
    Page 623
    PFF4 623

    The paper for women—The Advent Message to the Daughters of Zion—was edited by Mrs. Clorinda S. Minor, of Philadelphia, and Miss Emily C. Clemens, of Rochester. 1Miss Clemens, Presbyterian, and teacher in the Rochester Collegiate Institute, had had charge of the “Female Department.” And the scholarly quarterly, Advent Shield, also published in Boston, bore the now familiar names of Himes, Bliss, and Hale on its editorial card. There were some five papers in Canada, one of which was quite prominent. And two overseas Millerite periodicals—the Second Advent Harbinger of Bristol, England, with Robert Winter and Frederick Gunner as editors, and the British Midnight Cry of Liverpool, edited by Charles Dealtry—rounded out the list.PFF4 623.1


    The dominant advent emphasis of the movement, and the approaching world climax, was portrayed in practically all the periodical names chosen. The very titles themselves gave the distinct impression of bearing a vital message, and created a sense of urgency. Note some of the characteristic names employed. In addition to the Signs of the Times, and Advent Herald, and the Midnight Cry, which were the leading journals of the movement, the following names were used, as listed on page 626.PFF4 623.2

    Here are portrayed their Geographical location and spread, their frequency of issue, and their inter relationships, their length of continuance, and number of pages, their respective editors, and their individual and collective circulation to a given date, their mergings and Later names, when there was a change, and the dominant and progressive emphasis of their various journals as indicated by their names.(there is a slight overlapping where the two pages join to facilitate complete reading of each separate periodical).
    Page 623
    PFF4 623

    Second Advent Witness - Coming of Christ
    The Voice of Warning - Trump of Jubilee
    The Second Advent of Christ - The Bridegroom’s Herald
    City Watchman’s Alarm - Second Advent Harbinger
    Faithful Watchman - Behold, He Cometh
    The Trumpet of Alarm - End of the World
    Glad Tidings of the Kingdom at Hand - True Midnight Cry
    The Last Cry - The Advent Shield
    The Voice of Elijah -Watchman’s Last Warning The
    Great Crisis - The Morning Watch
    Watchman’s Warning - The Day-Dawn
    The Hope of the Church - Sure Word of Prophecy
    World’s Crisis - The Voice of Truth
    Bible Examiner - The Day-Star
    PFF4 626.1

    All of these—with various others more or less closely tied in with the movement—were issued within the short space of four years, between 1840 and 1844. The cumulative effect of this dominant advent note sounding over the land through this medium can well be imagined. A mighty stir resulted throughout America.PFF4 626.2

    These papers were often brought into existence on this wise: A Millerite leader would publish a paper in connection with a major series of meetings in some important city, frequently for a period of thirteen weeks. If results warranted, the paper was continued as a more or less permanent medium. If not, the unexpired subscriptions were transferred at the close of the meetings to one of the larger permanent journals. And while these various papers reprinted leading articles from one another, each had its own local contributors as well.PFF4 626.3

    Each journal consequently maintained its own characteristic style and personality. There were reports both on the general progress of the movement and on local developments. There were expositions and exhortations, defensive articles and reviews of opposing works, correspondence and discussion. There were notices of camp meetings and conferences, poems on the second advent and the last times, and new second advent hymns as well, often with notes. There were declarations of belief, group statements, charts and prophetic symbols, discussions, and strong editorials. They were aggressive and progressive, and compared favorably with any of the religious journals of the day.PFF4 626.4


    The editors of these journals form a most interesting group, meriting notice. Some, before joining the ranks of Adventism, had previously edited other journals. Looking them over in the light of the biographical data appearing in their sketches, we find they form a stalwart and capable lot. They represent talent, learning, initiative, and consecration. There were some thirty leading editors active in the Millerite movement proper, up to 1844—an unusual number for a movement of its size. And they comprised a diversified group as concerns religious backgrounds and experience, showing former Congregational, Methodist, Wesleyan, Christian, Baptist, and Presbyterian affiliations. Nevertheless, they were remarkably united in conviction and objectives.PFF4 627.1

    And while their papers were more or less autonomous, they were linked together in a common cause under the dynamic leadership of Joshua V. Himes, who started the parent paper—the Signs of the Times—;—lit Boston in 1840, and personally launched a half dozen of the others. He arranged for editorial replacements when occasion necessitated, and constituted the general overseer of the literature program. Here are the leading names on the editorial roster:PFF4 627.2

    1.J. V. Himes 14.Lewis Hersey
    2.Sylvester Bliss 15.Silas Hawley
    3.Nathaniel Southard 16.Enoch Jacobs
    4.Apollos Hale 17.H. H. Gross
    5.Charles Fitch 18.S. S. Snow
    6.Josiah Litch 19.Joseph Turner
    7.George Storrs 20.J. B. Cook
    8.Joseph Marsh 21.Miss E. C. Clemens
    9.L. D. Fleming 22.Mrs. C. S. Minor
    10.Richard Hutchinson, M.D. 23.L.D.Mansfield
    11.N. N. Whiting 24.Penney
    12.Orlando Squires 25.G. W. Eastman
    13.Henry Jones 26.H. B. Skinner 27.Martin 31.Acklison A. Sawin
    28.Robert Winter 32.A. J. Williamson
    29.Frederick Gunner 33.W. Deverall
    30.Charles Dealtry 31.Thomas Tallock
    PFF4 627.3


    The circulation figures of these various papers are difficult to assemble. The pioneer weekly Boston Signs was said to have 50,000 by 1842, with a larger circulation later. The New York Midnight Cry had 10,000 copies an issue during the weeks it was published as a daily. There were 100,000 copies of Voice ofPFF4 628.1

    Warning in. circulation in 1842. And 600,000 pieces of Adventist literature were circulated in New York City alone in 1842. 2Midnight Cry. April 13, 1843, p. 1. The Second Advent of Christ of Cleveland had distributed 113,000 by the middle of 1843. The Trumpet of Alarm records 30,000. Some of the smaller papers, as Faithful Watchman and Philadelphia Alarm had only 2,000 each. But the Montreal Voice of Elijah mentions 12,000, and the Cincinnati Western Midnight Cry 7,000. Approximately 10,000 copies of the Southern Midnight Cry were distributed. By the latter part of 1843, 1,000,000 second advent papers were declared to have been circulated, and 5,000,000 copies by May, 1844. 3Voice of Truth, June 8, 1844, p. 21. In Canada there were also the Hope of the Church (St. Thomas, C.N.), the Bridegroom’s Herald (Toronto), and Behold, He Cometh(Hamilton, C.W.).PFF4 628.2

    But the greatest distribution of all came in the latter part of 1844, prior to October 22. Then the presses were rolling day and night, and streams of periodical literature were blanketing the eastern part of North America like the proverbial “leaves of autumn.” The circulation figures reached by this medium are astonishing in the light of the number of adherents, and the total population of the country at that time. And Himes was the publishing genius of the movement.PFF4 628.3


    We’ will briefly note just three of the leading journals. First, there was the parent Boston Signs of the Times, which set the pace and maintained the standard for all the other Millerite journals. Its launching in February and March, 1840, marked a new day in the extension of the advent message. It was doubtless the most representative expounder of Millerite doctrine and prophetic interpretation, and was an effective forum for the discussion of issues and the answering of objections. It was the leading reporter of all activities-appointments, conferences, camp meetings, book depositories, and other developments. It was the chief recorder of all plans and accomplishments, evangelistic drives and revival meetings, the chosen channel for disseminating information and releasing declarations of faith and conference addresses. It was a faithful reflector and running commentator on all Adventist activities. Advent hymns were released through its pages. It was ably edited, aggressive and progressive, and in quality compared favorably with any other religious publication of the time.PFF4 628.4

    The Midnight Cry, the daily of New York, was, however, a close second. By 1842 the need for more papers and a wider distribution of literature had been felt. The first attempt was to make New York City a new distribution point for the Signs, from which it was to be sent out widely. Then, in conjunction with the great New York evangelistic drive in 1842, the Midnight Cry was launched on November 17, with ten thousand copies an issue. This unique Millerite daily was hawked by newsboys on the streets, and great quantities were sent to the postmasters throughout the country, to be distributed free of charge. After the first volume it was changed over to a weekly, continuing on throughout the movement. The editorial management was entrusted by Himes to Nathaniel Southard, an experienced editor, assisted by L. D. Fleming, who rendered conspicuous service to the movement.PFF4 629.1

    On the other hand the Advent Shield was the learned journal of the Adventists—a substantial quarterly. It was not launched until May, 1844—just after the close of Miller’s year “1843”—volume 1 containing 440 pages. The first number, with 144 pages, opened with a “Confession and Apology,” as the early church writers were wont to make. It gave a comprehensive and reliable history of the rise and progress of Adventism, and had several articles on prophetic chronology. It presented Dr. Whiting’s translation of Daniel 2, 7, 8, and 9, and closed with several book reviews, which was also a Shield feature. These were chiefly critical reviews of opposing works. Restrained in tone, they nevertheless analyzed the arguments incisively, and pointed out fundamental weaknesses with effective frankness. The Advent Shield was a journal that would do credit to any religious movement, with its scholarship on a par with that of other scholarly journals.PFF4 629.2

    Other numbers of the Shield showed the “Impossibility of the World’s Conversion,” vindicated the doctrine of the resurrection against the attack of George Bush, professor of Hebrew at New York City University, and competently discussed the basis and significance of the “Seventh Month Movement,” and presented it in historical review. The prophesied conflagration of the heavens and the earth was discussed, and withal on a scholarly plane. As its name indicated, it defended Adventist positions against the attacks of its enemies. It met argument with argument, and erudition with erudition. Its chief purpose was to show, (1) that the theory of the world’s conversion was a “false millennium,” (2) that the popular expectation of the restoration and conversion of the Jews was unsound, and (3) that the positions of the Millerites on prophecy were not only Scriptural but sound, as well as supported by the finest scholars of the ages. Its threefold objective is set forth in these words:PFF4 630.1

    “The design of this publication is of a three-fold character. First, to defend ourselves as believers in the Advent at hand. Second, to exhibit the unscriptural and absurd position of our opponents; and, Third, to furnish the truth for those who are convinced that the prevailing interpretations of prophecy are unauthorized by the word of God, and are desirous to find the true and the right way.” 4Advent Shield, May, 1844, preface, p. 3.PFF4 630.2

    Let us now form the acquaintance of the leading editors.PFF4 630.3

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