James White



     James White was born at Palmyra, Maine, August 4, 1821. He was a descendant of one of the Pilgrims who came over on the "Mayflower" in 1620. He was reared on a rocky Maine farm, which reluctantly gave up its fruits to the hard-working farmer who tilled it in a successful attempt to make a living for himself, his wife, and nine children.

     As a child James was sickly. When under three years of age he had what the doctors pronounced worm fever. This caused the lad to have fits and made him cross-eyed. He later said of that period that he was a "feeble, nervous, partially blind boy." As a result of this condition he did not receive the advantages of the common school. Not until he was sixteen years old, when his eyes became normal, could he so much as read a single verse in the Bible without resting his eyes. He grew rapidly, however, and by the time he was eighteen, was large for his age. Overgrown and behind in his classes, the young man was much embarrassed when he entered the academy the following year.    

     Of himself at that time Mr. White later said: "I could not then work a simple problem in single rule of three, and I could not tell a verb from an adverb or an adjective, and was deficient in the other common branches. My friends advised me to turn my attention to farming and not think of seeking for an education. But I could not take their advice."  

     We can see something of the low standards of education and the mettle of the youth when we know that after attending one term of twelve weeks, the youth was granted a certificate to teach the common branches the following winter.    

     Mr. White later mentioned that he had to study eighteen hours out of the twenty-four in order to do the work. The winter wrought a great change in his life, however. He had gained a victory in his experience. Heretofore he had felt a certain inferiority and actually  

     James regretted his existence. Now he felt his powers and hoped to develop into a real man who could make a contribution to the world.  

     At the age of nineteen he left home with his parents' blessing and a suit of clothes. His resolute efforts to gain an education were attended by hardship and difficulties from first to last. When he started to the academy, his parents gave him three dollars to pay his tuition for twelve weeks, and six days' rations of bread to take with him each Monday morning when he walked the five miles to the academy.  

     At the close of his first term of school teaching he walked forty miles to a sawmill and secured work. While employed there he cut his ankle severely. This kept him from work for a long time and permanently weakened his foot. During the remainder of his life he was unable to bear his weight on the left heel.  

     At the close of his summer's work, with thirty dollars and a scanty supply of old, worn clothing, he started to the academy at Reedfield, Maine. While others wore new clothing and enjoyed the customary conveniences of a boarding house, he lived the three months on raw apples and corn-meal mush which he cooked himself. At the close of this term of school his formal education came to a close. He had attended high school twenty-nine weeks in all, or a little less than one term, according to our present mode of reckoning. The total cost of tuition, books, and board did not exceed fifty dollars. At the time he discontinued school he had reached the place where one year's work would prepare him for entrance to college. His thirst for information had merely been whetted by this schooling, and he determined to push ahead and secure a college education. During the winter of 1840 and 1841 he taught a large school and also gave penmanship lessons in two districts. That spring he returned home with the purpose of continuing his education. Soon his attention was called to the matter of the Second Coming of Christ.  

     At the age of fifteen, James White was baptized and joined the Christian Church, but at the age of twenty he had become engrossed in securing an education, and had so buried himself in it that lie loved the world more than Christ and was worshipping education instead of the God of heaven.  

     When he returned from his school, he found that a minister from Boston had been preaching the second advent, and that many in the neighborhood had accepted Christ and were enjoying a renewed consecration. Until this time he had regarded Millerism as rank fanaticism. He was surprised to hear his mother support it, and became interested in it himself when she answered his objections to the teaching.  

     He attended the meetings, became convicted of his back sliding condition, and renewed his consecration to God. He then felt a duty to visit the community where his school was located and do personal work for his pupils. He prayed to be excused, and receiving no relief, tried to work off his feelings by walking in the field. When no relief came, he rebelled against God, and stamping his foot on the ground, declared he would not go. He then packed up his belongings and departed to another academy. He secured a boarding place, bought his books, and enrolled in the school. He thought to drive away his convictions, but instead, he became confused and distressed in mind. He spent several hours over his books and then tried to call to mind what he had been studying, but was unable to do so. Finally resolving to resist the call of the Spirit of God no longer, he went directly from the door of the school room to the vicinity where he had taught the previous winter and where he was engaged to teach again the following term. Hardly had he started on his way when his mind was filled with a sense of God's approbation and he raised his hands and praised God with triumphant voice. It was a trial to go into that district where he was employed to teach the next winter and talk to the students and their parents about salvation. He faced the task, warned the people, and having accomplished his purpose, left.  

     During the summer he was unsettled as to what he should do. He wanted to attend school and become a scholar, and yet he felt the duty of proclaiming the Second Coming of Christ. His struggle was severe, indeed, but finally he made an appointment to preach. His first few sermons, he later testified, were not very successful. He was timid and lacking in confidence. On one occasion he was urged to speak in the presence of two young ministers, but in twenty minutes sat down embarrassed and confused. He later charged his failure to lack of resignation and humility. When he finally gave up the struggle for self, and consecrated his life wholly to God, he found peace of mind and freedom of expression.  

     Soon after this Mr. White heard Joshua V. Himes and Appollos Hale speak on the advent, and he began more definitely to study and prepare to preach the advent message. He bought publications, studied them, and began in earnest to get ready to teach others the message of the hour.  

     He preached a few times that summer, and in September attended a meeting held in "the great tent" in eastern Maine by Himes, Miller, and others. Upon returning from the great camp meeting, he spent several weeks studying the advent literature. He had purchased a chart, and with this before him, and the Bible and other books at hand, he made himself familiar with the message. In October of the same year (1842) he attended a large  Adventist camp meeting held at Exeter, Maine. He was profoundly impressed by the numerous tents, the clear and powerful preaching, and the advent melodies which possessed a power that he had never before witnessed in sacred music. He returned home with such enthusiasm for the message that he determined immediately to go out and proclaim it. He prepared three lectures and made provision to give them to the people.    

     He had neither money, horse, nor saddle. He had used up the earnings of the past winter attending camp meetings, buying literature, and securing some needed clothing. Friends provided, however. His father offered him the use of a horse for the winter, while the minister gave him a dilapidated saddle with the pads torn off, and several pieces of bridle. He placed the saddle on a log and nailed on the pads. Likewise with malleable nails he fastened the pieces of bridle together, gathered up the few pieces of advent literature, folded up the chart, and fortified with these, left his father's house on horseback. He began in the neighboring towns. At first he gave only three lectures, but with experience he added a lecture at a place until he had a series of six worked out.    

     He substituted a week for a schoolteacher friend of his and lectured each evening. At the close of this time sixty arose for prayers. He was astounded and was unprepared for such a situation, for he had now used up all his information, indeed had stretched it a point and had given seven lectures. With a large number of penitents on his hands he was at the end of his resources. In his predicament he sent for his brother who had been in the ministry five years. The latter raised up a large church on the interest thus begun. Shortly afterward he received an invitation to preach in a vicinity about one hundred miles away, where the advent message had never been proclaimed.  

     In January, 1843, in the midst of a cold Maine winter, he left on horseback, thinly clad and with no money, for his self-appointed field among strangers over one hundred miles away. On one occasion a large mob, incited by nonbelievers, gathered around the meetinghouse and took out the windows. When the youthful minister began to pray, a snowball whistled through the window and spattered on the ceiling. This was the beginning of a fusillade of snowballs thrown at him. His Bible and clothes were wet with the fragments of a hundred snowballs, which broke on the ceiling and showered over him and the Bible.    Closing his Bible, he began to picture the terrors of the day of God. He was inspired to give such a sermon as he had never been able to give before. Soon under the spell of his eloquence, the rowdy crowd became quiet. As he talked, he drew a spike nail out of his pocket which had been hurled and had hit him on the forehead the night before. Holding up the spike, he said:  

     "Some poor sinner cast this spike at me last evening. God pity him. The worst wish I have for him is, that he is at this moment as happy as I am. Why should I resent this insult when my Master had them driven through His hands?"  

     At that moment he raised his arms and placed his hands upon the wall behind him in the position of Christ on the cross. With tears streaming down his cheeks, the youthful minister called on sinners to repent. The effect was powerful. More than a hundred were in tears, and nearly that many rose for prayers.  

     Closing the meeting, the young man started out through the subdued crowd. Some one locked arms with him and guided and assisted him through the throng. He did not know this person, and yet he seemed strangely familiar. When Mr. White got through the crowd, he missed his companion and never found out the identity of this heaven-sent protector. His lectures continued in that place three or four evenings without the least opposition, and resulted in a general revival.  

     Journeying to his field, he found a Freewill Baptist quarterly meeting in session, and after lecturing there, was invited to preach at the various churches represented in the meeting. It was the middle of February, and it was thought that not more than six weeks of firm sleighing remained to give the people a good chance to attend the meetings. Hence only twelve of the most important places were selected for his labor in the six weeks. He was to give ten lectures at an appointment. This called for him to speak twenty times a week and, allowed him only half a day a week to travel fifteen or twenty miles to the next place agreed upon.  

     In one instance the young minister, having held a forenoon and an afternoon meeting, left the place just at setting of sun for another meeting to be held sixteen miles away that evening. He had labored excessively and was so hoarse that he could scarcely speak above a whisper. His clothes were wet with perspiration, and he should have stopped to rest, but the next appointment must be met. Hastily bidding farewell to his new-found friends, he mounted his waiting horse and rode into the stinging February evening. He was chilled to the bone, but he dared not stop and warm himself, though his damp clothes were nearly freezing. Finally he arrived at his destination, just as the minister was raising his hands to dismiss the congregation which had already waited an hour. Giving his horse to a friend at the door, he attempted to address the people. At first his chattering teeth cut off the words, but soon he warmed up and spoke with freedom.  

     In the meantime the one who took the horse had neglected to care for him, and the poor animal, reeking with sweat, was tied to the fence without blanket or protection. As a result of an hour and a half of this exposure in the cold wind, the beast had a case of chest founder the next morning.  

     Mr. White was ordained to the ministry at the hands of the ministers of the Christian church at Palmyra in the spring of 1843, at the close of his winter's labor. During the summer and the next winter he labored here and there among the small towns and country churches in Maine. In the spring of 1844 he, like the other advent believers, suffered disappointment.  

     In August, 1844, Mr. White, in company with others, attended the Exeter, New Hampshire, camp meeting where the tenth day of the seventh month movement had its beginning. He left the campground convinced of the truthfulness of the message and returned to spread it in Maine. He presented it at camp meetings and in churches, visiting two and sometimes three towns in a single day, giving the final warning message: "Behold, He comes! Get ready. Prepare to meet thy God."  

     Finally the long looked for day arrived. The believers gathered in their accustomed places to wait for the voice of the Archangel and the trump of God. James White, along with the others, was bitterly disappointed when the Savior did not appear in the clouds. So deep and disconcerting was this disappointment that great confusion and difference of opinion reigned among the advent believers. Many and varied were the ideas put forth by the earnest truth seekers.  

     Some who had been disappointed set other times as likely dates for the coming of Christ. James White himself, from studying certain statements of Christ about His coming in the second or third watch, was led to look for the advent to occur on October 22, 1845, or just one year after the great disappointment. He traveled, preaching this message. A few days before the time of his expectation passed, his future wife, Ellen Harmon, had a vision showing that they would be disappointed. Thus the Spirit of prophecy saved the believers who clung to this idea, from another disappointment. 

     Shortly after the disappointment, however, men began to put forth the idea that, after all, the Adventists were not mistaken in the time of the event, but in the nature of it. Joseph Marsh, who did not become a Seventh-day Adventist, wrote in November, 1844, following the disappointment: "We cheerfully admit that we have been mistaken in the nature of the event we expected would occur on the tenth day of the seventh month, but we cannot yet admit that our great High Priest did not on that very day accomplish all that the type would justify us to expect. We now believe He did."    

     As is explained elsewhere, Hiram Edson brought forth the idea that the sanctuary to be cleansed was in heaven. In this way, bit by bit, the present belief of Seventh-day Adventists developed by prayer and Bible study. Mrs. White later wrote of this period:  

     "Many of our people do not realize how firmly the foundation of our faith has been laid." 

     "My husband, with Elders Joseph Bates, Stephen Pierce, Hiram Edson, and others who were keen, noble, and true, was among those who, after the passing of the time in 1844, searched for the truth as for hidden treasure.  

     "We would come together burdened in soul, praying that we might be one in faith and doctrine; for we knew that Christ is not divided. One point at a time was made the subject of investigation. The Scriptures were opened with a sense of awe. Often we fasted, that we might be better fitted to understand the truth.  

     "After earnest prayer, if any point was not understood, it was discussed, and each one expressed his opinion freely; then we would again bow in prayer, and earnest supplication went up to heaven that God would help us to see eye to eye that we might be one, as Christ and the Father are one. Many tears were shed.  

     "We spent many hours in this way. Sometimes the entire night was spent in solemn investigation of the Scriptures, that we might understand the truth for our time. On some occasions the Spirit of God would come upon me, and difficult portions were made clear through God's appointed way, and then there was perfect harmony. . . . 

     "Sometimes one or two of the brethren would stubbornly set themselves against the view presented, and would act out the natural feelings of the heart; but when this disposition appeared, we suspended our investigations and adjourned our meeting, that each might have an opportunity to go to God in prayer, and without conversation with them study the point of difference, asking light from heaven. With expressions of friendliness we parted, to meet again as soon as possible for further investigation. At times the power of God came upon us in a marked manner, and when clear light revealed the points of truth, we would weep and rejoice together. We loved Jesus; we loved one another."  

     In the winter of 1845, James White was in Orrington, Maine. There were fanatical persons among the believers there. Ellen Harmon came to Orrington, in February, and bore a decided testimony against the fanaticism. These two became acquainted, and their mutual interest in the advent hope and in public labour, formed a basis for association in service. In time the friendship formed in this fashion, ripened into love, and they were married August 30, 1846.  

     Joseph Bates, James White, and Ellen Harmon found a community of interest and drew together, forming the nucleus of what later became the Seventh-day Adventist Church. At first they did not see eye to eye on some important points of faith and doctrine.  

     Mr. Bates began keeping the Sabbath in the spring of 1845. When James White visited Massachusetts in the summer of 1846, in company with Ellen Harmon and her sister, Mr. Bates presented the matter of keeping the Sabbath, but they saw no light in it. He in turn was unable to receive Miss Harmon's visions as being of divine origin. Miss Harmon "thought that he erred in dwelling upon the fourth commandment more than upon the other nine."  

     At the time of this visit Joseph Bates was writing a forty eight-page pamphlet on the Sabbath. Soon after their marriage, James and Ellen White read the little pamphlet by Mr. Bates, and in the autumn began to observe and teach the Sabbath. Shortly afterward Joseph Bates became convinced of the heavenly origin of Mrs. White's visions, and the three united and went forth to uphold their beliefs. For more than a year they stood alone preaching their message.  

     James White spent much time writing letters and in copying the visions of his wife and sending them out to the little groups of believers scattered here and there who were sympathetic to their views. They saw that they might wear themselves out copying letters and yet never reach very many people. They felt the need for publications through which they might give the light to the world. On October 22, 1848, at a meeting in Topsham, Maine, the believers made the printing of the message the subject of prayer. A month later, at a meeting held at Dorchester, Massachusetts, after a vision Mrs. White said to her husband:  

     "I have a message for you. You must begin to print a little paper, and send it out to the people. Let it be small at first; but as the people read, they will send you means with which to print, and it will be a success from the first."  

     Thus was conceived the first paper to be printed by Sabbath keeping Adventists. Poverty prevented the immediate consummation of the plan, however. The brethren felt too poor to spare the necessary funds for the work of publication. James White saw that if the paper was to be started, he must finance it and must earn the money for the purpose. He was starting to town to buy a scythe so that he could hire out to cut hay in order to publish the paper. On his way to the buggy, he was called back by word that his wife was fainting. Prayer was offered for her, and she was restored. She was then taken off in vision. When she came out of the vision, she told her husband that she had been shown that he should not again enter the hayfield, but should write and publish. They were to move forward in faith, and the money, she said, would be forthcoming.  

     In that humble home set up in the large unfinished room over the kitchen in the Belden home at Rocky Hill, Connecticut, Present Truth, our first periodical, was born. James White walked eight miles to Middletown to take the copy to the printer, and then walked home again. Several times he had to make this trip before he finally brought the material home ready to be wrapped; though, fortunately, he was able to borrow Mr. Belden's horse and buggy for the last journey.  

     When the first number of a thousand copies was brought from the printing office, the papers were spread before the Lord, and the little group bowed around them in humility, and with many tears consecrated them to God, praying that these silent messengers might find open hearts. They then addressed them to all they thought would read them, and with his laden carpetbag in hand, the publisher walked once more to the post office at Middletown.  

     The first numbers of Present Truth dealt primarily with the sacredness of the Sabbath and its perpetuity.  

     When he began to publish, James White did not expect to bring out more than a few numbers, but as more means was received than was necessary, and as the state of the cause seemed to indicate the need of continuing its issuance, he continued its publication. Some surplus means was used in traveling to visit the scattered believers.    

     In December, 1849, the Present Truth was moved to Oswego, New York. As the first manifestation of liberality slackened about the first of the year 1850, James White, utterly discouraged because of the meager support, decided not to publish any more numbers. At that time his wife again had a vision in which instruction was given that it was his duty to continue publishing.  

     During the summer of 1850, while Mr. and Mrs. White were traveling, the publication of the paper was temporarily suspended. In September, James White began the publication of a 16-page periodical known as the Advent Review. When he started this, he intended to bring out five or six numbers, with the purpose of counteracting the teaching of the non-Sabbath keeping Adventists that the 1844 movement was a mistake. He proposed to reprint a large number of articles published during the 1844 movement, thus reviewing, as the name indicates, the whole experience. In November, 1850, the last number of Present Truth and also the last number of the Advent Review were issued, and the new and enlarged periodical, Second Advent Review and Sabbath Herald made its appearance. The message contained in it, as suggested in the name, was a proclamation of the Sabbath truth and the reviewing of the advent message. This was the beginning of our church paper. It was published at Paris, Maine.    

     The reason for the change of place of publication was the very friendly reception on the part of the brethren at Paris. The Whites stayed with William Andrews, the father of J. N. Andrews, our first overseas missionary. In this group of believers were several others who were in the near future to bear heavy burdens in God's cause. Two of the daughters of Cyprian Stevens were to marry leaders in the cause. Angeline became Mrs. J. N. Andrews, and Harriet became the wife of Uriah Smith. Others in that group were publishing house employees and conference officials in the years to come. Here at Paris also the print shop was in the same town, and no long walks were necessary between the editorial headquarters and the press.  

     Once more borne down by heavy burdens, and ill because of an impoverished diet occasioned by the economies made necessary by poverty, James White decided to quit publishing. Once more came the message that he must continue. From this time forth he went forward with the steadfast determination to publish. 

     In the summer of 1851 Mr. and Mrs. White moved to Ballston, New York, where they lived in the home of Jesse Thompson. Borrowing furniture, they began housekeeping and issued the paper from Saratoga Springs for some months. At a conference held at the home of Jesse Thompson, it was decided to purchase a press. Up until this time the Review had been published by commercial firms. It was felt that it would be more appropriate to have the message printed where no work would be done on the Sabbath and where the Christian employees would take a sympathetic interest in the project. It was decided to carry out this plan in Rochester, New York. A vacant house was secured and a Washington hand press was purchased in New York City. 

     Mr. and Mrs. White were in charge of the large dwelling which housed as high as fifteen who made up the working forces of the establishment. The printing plant was located under the same roof. The publishing family apparently got along well together, although as in the best-regulated of families, there was occasionally some friction. The girl secured to do the cooking was not an expert dietitian, and forced to economize, she provided food which became somewhat monotonous. After a few weeks on this program, Uriah Smith remarked to a comrade that although he had no objections to eating beans three hundred sixty-five times in succession, yet when it came to making them a regular diet, he should protest.  

     During the summer of 1852 the cholera raged in Rochester, and night after night the little family of Adventist publishing workers heard the rumble of carriages bearing the dead to the cemeteries. And then the dread disease struck the little company. The chief printer, Lumen Masten, was stricken. As a result of his sickness and recovery, this man, until then an unbeliever, accepted the message.  

     The year 1852 saw the beginnings of the Youth's Instructor. James White, in his introductory remarks in the first number, said: "For some time we have been impressed that we have a special work to do for the youth, but have not been able to commence it until the present time. We now cheerfully engage in this work, praying the Lord to help us."  

     Thus James White led out in the work for the young people. His interest in, and appreciation of, the need for help for the youth is further seen in his writing Sabbath school lessons for children. Some of these first Sabbath school lessons among Adventists were prepared by Mr. White while he was on his journeying. At noonday he unhitched the horse and allowed it to eat while he partook of his own lunch. While the horse grazed untethered along the road, Mr. White, using his hat or the lunch basket for a desk, wrote out the lessons for the children. In this unpretentious way the Sabbath school had its humble beginnings. 

     Sickness and death struck the White family terrible blows during the early fifties. Mrs. White's younger brother, Robert, died in Maine, after a lingering illness. A little later Mr. White's brother, Nathaniel, and sister, Anna, both invalids, came to live with the family. Nathaniel died in 1853, Anna in 1854, and Lumen Masten, the printer, about the same time, all of that dreaded scourge, consumption. In the midst of all of this sickness and discouragement, Willie was born to Mr. and Mrs. White. Then, too, Mr. White's health became very poor. He was troubled with a cough and soreness of the lungs, which gave a basis for the belief that he was fast sinking into the grave as a result of the ravages of the same disease which had carried away the other members of the publishing family. Mrs.   White tells us that at that time she looked upon her three little boys with sadness, for she feared they would soon be left fatherless. All the property was made out in Mrs. White's name with that pitifully forlorn idea in mind. Mrs. White was shown in vision that her husband should cease labor and rest for the sake of his health. At that he wept and groaned: "Must I then become a church pauper?"  

     In April, 1855, he announced his intentions of leaving the office and getting away from the weight of its cares. Accordingly he went into the field visiting the brethren. This journey took him and Mrs. White into Michigan. As a result of this visit the brethren in Michigan urged the removal of the Review to Battle Creek, and in May, James White called attention in the paper to the favorable climate, and the prices of rent, fuel, and provisions, which seemed to favor removal. Elder and Mrs. White made a tour into Vermont, and the brethren there wanted to move the office to their State. There was some danger of division among the believers. James White, writing in regard to this in August, 1855, said:  

     "We shall no longer bear the burdens we have borne in Rochester; neither shall we move the office east or west. The office is the property of the church. The church must wake up to this matter, and free us from responsibilities that have been forced upon us, and which we have reluctantly taken. We must have freedom and repose, or go into the grave."  

     On this eastern journey Mr. White and his wife made a trip into Maine, where he had a delightful visit at his old home. He found his aged parents in good health and enjoying the advent belief, but they had not yet seen the full light on the Sabbath.    

     By September, 1855, the brethren in Michigan had fully decided to take the responsibility for the Review, and the people in Vermont signified their willingness to do so, but felt that Michigan would be nearer the center of the future field of labor. At a general conference held at Battle Creek in September, 1855, all arrangements were made to move the Review to Battle Creek and for a committee of Michigan brethren to take over many of the responsibilities in connection with its publication. The publishing family, upon arrival at Battle Creek, found ready for occupancy a new building which had been provided for them by the Michigan brethren. From this location they published the first number, dated December 4, 1855.  

     With the new arrangement James White became resident editor. For the first time the employees were given a salary. The weekly salary was five dollars.    

     During the winter of 1856-57 Mr. White and his wife made a trip into Iowa to arouse the brethren at Waukon from their Laodicean attitude.  

     Upon their return he urged the purchase of a power press. He called attention to the fact that the crew was badly overworked, and yet was unable to print enough material. As a result of this appeal, shortly afterward, in May, 1857, Mr. White announced that seventeen men had each pledged one hundred dollars toward the press. A little later he went East and arranged for the delivery of the press at Battle Creek for approximately two thousand dollars in cash. The press duly arrived, and the first number of the Review printed on it was dated July 30, 1857. Since they had no engine, it was necessary for two men to tug away at a big crank attached to the fly wheel in order to keep the press moving. Although this was strenuous work, the men declared it was easier than pulling the lever of the old Washington hand press, and it printed six times as many sheets per hour. Soon a steam train was purchased and the printing unit was completed at a cost of less than twenty-five hundred dollars.  

     Friends of the cause who had given liberally to buy a publishing plant and church, now united in assisting Mr. White in purchasing a lot and building a house on it. Some contributed money, others labor, and soon a suitable dwelling arose on the selected spot. 

     Mrs. White's parents came to live with the family until a permanent place of residence was found for them, and later Mr. White's parents lived with them a short time until a near-by home was secured. The White family enjoyed having the parents with them. The boys loved to visit their grandparents. Their grandfather White was a shoemaker and cobbled shoes in the front part of his home. He was in perplexity over the Sabbath question. Although he felt that the Bible plainly taught the seventh-day Sabbath, he had been a member of the Christian denomination for many years, had enjoyed a blessed experience, and Sunday was very dear to him. It was now hard for him to break away from a habit long established and firmly believed to be right. For several months he observed both Sabbath and Sunday as rest days. One Sunday morning to their surprise his grandsons discovered him at his bench pegging shoes. He had made his decision wholeheartedly to obey the fourth commandment and discard Sunday.    

     During the last half of the decade of the fifties, Mr. White and his wife traveled much among the churches. Often they would drive through the country. James White spoke to the people, and his sermon was not infrequently followed by exhortation or perhaps the relating of a vision by his wife. 

     A trip taken by Mr. White into Iowa and Wisconsin in 1860 reveals the rude surroundings in which the ministers of God found themselves in early times. At Ottumwa he and Moses Hull found lodging for the night in a log tavern. We are told:     

     "In one corner of the large chamber to which they were assigned, there were about two hundred bushels of wheat. In order to ensure proper ventilation for the grain, boards had been taken off the side of the house, leaving an opening about ten feet square. Through this opening a chilly west wind blew directly upon the bed, causing the inmates to suffer severely from the cold."  

     Besides his pioneer service in the publishing work, probably the greatest contribution of James White to the Seventh-day Adventist Church was his leadership in the drive for church organization. This problem was one of the knottiest faced during the first twenty years of the history of the movement.  

     During the 1844 movement the advent believers had suffered an experience which was destined to mold and shape their attitude toward church organization for the next decade and a half.  

     When the advent believers in the various churches became active, a breach between them and their fellow church members gradually opened. In time, the advent believers found their church relationships strained, and they were obliged to withdraw of their own accord or they were disfellowshiped by their brethren. A cry went up over the land, 'Babylon is fallen, is fallen.' 'Come out of her, My people' "Babylon" was interpreted to mean the various churches of which the believers were members, and they felt it their duty to withdraw from this confusion. This movement is known to Seventh-day Adventists as the second angel's message. 

     There was at that time a feeling that their churches were tyrannical and wholly bereft of the true spirit of God. They were felt to be sectarian and wholly contrary to the broad all-inclusive spirit of Christ.  

     As the months and years went on, however, the leaders of the Sabbath keepers saw the need of certain forms of organization. For example, who was to authorize the ordination of ministers? Who was to say what the beliefs and standards of the church were? Who was to own and control property which should belong to the group? Who was to lead out in a group, that order might hold sway over confusion?  

     The first ministerial credentials consisted of a card signed by Joseph Bates and James.

     White and given to those whom they deemed qualified to preach. The beliefs of the group were largely determined by the material printed in the Review. Finally by 1857 some local church groups had chosen elders and deacons. As yet, however, there was no real organization. There was no name and no legal body to hold property. When an appeal was made for the loan of money, a sister in Vermont lent one hundred dollars to the cause. When a note was sent to her bearing the signature "Advent Review and Sabbath Herald Office," she returned it, insisting that James White sign the note. He refused to take this personal responsibility, and the money was returned. The church in Battle Creek was deeded to Stephen Belden, the husband of Mrs. White's sister, Sarah, because there was no organization to hold it.  

     During the next few years James White repeatedly wrote in favor of organization, and articles on church order appeared continually. As the leading workers went from place to place, they talked organization. General meetings and conferences responded by passing resolutions in favor of organization. The battle was not won at a single charge, however. The idea that church organizations are oppressive and are of the devil was tenaciously held by many. While considerable discussion was going on among the believers, the church at Parkville, Michigan, took the lead and legally organized. Trustees were elected and a certificate was made out and filed in the county clerk's office. The members of this first legally organized Seventh-day Adventist church called themselves the "Parkville Church of Christ's Second Advent." At the annual meeting of the Michigan brethren in September, 1860, it was decided to recommend that the local churches organize. A number of names were suggested. Elder White suggested the name "Church of God." The name Seventh-day Adventists was finally chosen.  

     The Review and Herald publishing house was incorporated by action of the State legislature of Michigan, May 3, 1861, and thus became the first general denominational agency to legally organize.  

     It soon became clear to James White and the other leading brethren that there was need of State organizations, and in October, 1862, the Michigan Conference was organized.   Other States followed in quick succession. James White through the columns of the Review urged the formation of a general conference to be supreme over all State conferences. One of the chief reasons for this organization was to coordinate, the work throughout the field and properly distribute laborers where they were most needed. Michigan and Vermont had more than their proportion of preachers, while the other sections were almost without help.    

     In May, 1863, the General Conference was organized. On the first evening delegates were seated. During the meeting the next morning the constitution was adopted, and in the afternoon officers were chosen. James White was elected president, but declined to accept for several reasons. First, he had led out in the struggle for organization, and now the opponents of this move would feel that he had been working to secure an exalted place for himself in the cause. Then, too, he said his health was not good enough to warrant his carrying the load. In addition to his other responsibilities he was already carrying a heavy burden as president of the publishing association. John Byington was then elected in his stead. The organization effected at this time has proved to be wise beyond the highest expectations of the founders. A centralized committee makes for the maximum efficiency, and the elective features guarantee against despotism or autocracy. The organization of Seventh-day Adventists is known as the Presbyterian form of organization.  

     In May, 1865, over his protest James White was elected president of the General Conference.

     He felt that the burden would be too great for him to accept the responsibility. In order to lighten his load, however, and make his acceptance possible, he was released from his position as chief editor of the Review, and Uriah Smith was given that responsibility.  

     James White was a hard worker. He gave unstintingly of his strength, working untiringly for the advancement of the cause of God. "Better wear out than rust out," was his motto. This was a mistake, however, for a man of his temperament was bound to break. A more temperate course would probably have saved his services to the cause for many more years. He and his wife traveled from place to place, wearing themselves out completely. Their travels took them into Wisconsin for several meetings and from there into Iowa to deal with a serious situation. On their return to Battle Creek, where they, hoped to rest from the strenuous labors, they were called to raise money to pay for a new church in Michigan. After answering this call they arose at three in the morning to catch the train for home, and James White remarked that he was terribly tired, more tired than he had been for many years, and that he wanted to rest when he reached home. The train missed connection, and the journey was long drawn out and tiresome, the couple arriving at home after midnight. With only a short sleep, he was up in the morning, going about his work. By night he was exhausted and did not sleep well. The next morning he was up and about, however, and walked with his wife to a neighbor's home. As he started to pick an ear of green corn, his right arm dropped helplessly to his side, and he staggered as though he would fall. He was helped into the house. His power of speech was affected. Later he grew better and was carried home on a couch. It was feared a second stroke of apoplexy would end the veteran worker's life, and he asked for a lawyer to put his business affairs in shape. Gradually, but slowly, he improved, however.  

     The couple then went to Dansville, New York, where James White was treated at the hydropathic institution. The progress of his recovery was so slow that he began to fret. In the spring of 1867 Mr. and Mrs. White sold their home in Battle Creek and moved to a little farm near Greenville, Michigan. Mrs. White hoped that her husband would regain his health through outdoor work. Together they gardened and farmed on a small scale.  After two years of continuous care Mr. White had largely recovered his health.    

     He played an important part in the establishment of the Battle Creek Sanitarium and lived to see it become an important institution.

     He played an even greater part in the establishment of our first college. As early as 1872 he urged that steps be taken to found a central school where the young people of the denomination could be educated in the regular subjects and in addition to these could secure instruction in hygiene, health, and the Bible.  

     In 1869 Mr. and Mrs. White moved to Battle Creek, and soon the brethren laid heavy responsibilities on them once more, with the effect that in the spring of 1871 Mr. White sustained a second stroke of apoplexy and another in the spring of 1872. As a result, he and his wife spent the summer in Colorado and the winter in California, where he convalesced. Thus they made their first visit to the land which was later to become a stronghold of Adventism. Returning to Battle Creek in the spring of 1873, James. White had a fourth stroke of paralysis, and dyspepsia followed this attack. Although he played such an important part in founding the sanitarium, he never could make use of it, for the brethren continually pressed him, seeking advice on various matters, until he found it impossible to get an hour's peace and rest without retreating to the mountains. 

     Again they left for California in the fall of 1873, in order to get away from the rigors of a Michigan winter and to be relieved of the heavy responsibilities of the work at Battle Creek. And yet James White could not stand to be idle. Soon he was cooperating in a tent effort in the city of Oakland. Ever a publisher at heart, in connection with these meetings in the spring of 1874, James White established the Signs of the Times in June. He lived to see this infant paper develop into a great periodical and become the nucleus of one of the largest publishing houses on the Pacific Coast.  

     During the seventies, attending camp meetings became a terrible burden to Mr. and Mrs. White. In several notes in the Review James White frankly told of some of the hardships of camp meeting attendance and the strain of travel. He said:  

     "After a tedious journey shut up in the cars, or shut up in the woods speaking to the people, on committees, or attending business sessions, week after week, what an unspeakable relief to weary brain and trembling nerves would be the use of a horse and carriage for a few hours each day. But no one thinks of this, only the camp meeting slave, who is shifted twice each week; first, from the cars to the omnibus and to the ground; then away by the omnibus to the cars, to be dumped off in the ditch, perhaps, bag and baggage, beside the next camp ground, after riding day and night for twenty-four, thirty-six, or forty eight hours in the dusty, smoky, stifled air of the cars. . . . We cannot go the rounds of your camp meetings any more, and we ask for one season's entire rest from the camp meetings to recover as far as possible from the severe wear of such efforts as the past years. 

     "We have gone from meeting to meeting four weeks at a time without stepping over a threshold, only that of the railroad depot. . . . We live in our trunks nearly one third of the year. We take our tent with us in a trunk. Could lumber be in reserve on the ground for us, some one be appointed to take us and our baggage directly to the ground, and persons ready to assist in putting up our tent, and we be visited by only those who should come to our tent to assist and cheer us, and none come in the confusion of breaking up, and packing for the cars, to bid us good-by, very much of the dreaded part of camp meeting life would be removed."

     Again James White spoke of the difficulties of itinerating:  

     "We are invited to attend the camp meetings; but we dare not risk the strain. . . . We never go onto a camp ground, to visit, or to talk of feebleness, weariness, and pains.

     We put all the courage, good cheer, and faith into our labors possible. Hence when the meeting closes, we are like wilted leaves. Then comes the struggle of taking down tent, packing trunks, while crowded by careless visitors to take a hasty good-by, or to attend to business they have neglected until the last moment. . . . Mrs. White has been carried off the grounds several times fainting because of her hard labor, and the indiscretion of friends at the breaking up."-Id., May 24, 1877, p.164.  

     An interesting prayer band met outside the city of Battle Creek in the spring of 1877. James White, in reporting it, said: "Elder Smith, Professor Brownsberger, Doctor Kellogg, Mrs. White, and the writer, solemnly avowed to God in a covenant with each other, upon our knees in a grove near this city, to be true to God who had planted our institutions here and to each other in laboring to establish discipline and order and to resist the wrong. . . . Having no other means than a pocketknife to mark the spot of our sacred covenant, we cut five notches in an oak sapling."  

     By the time James White reached the age of sixty, he was worn out. For years he had labored from fifteen to eighteen hours out of every twenty-four. He had had no chance to rest even on Sabbath, for he generally preached two or three times on that day. He had robbed himself of sleep in riding on the train night after night and holding long evening meetings. For the first ten years of his editorial service he usually wrote his editorials in the night between the hours of eight and twelve. During the day he did the multitudinous tasks about the office, such as writing letters, counseling with the employees, caring for the business of the office, and reading proof sheets. The small books which he wrote were written in the night when he should have been in bed asleep.  

     It was not unusual for him to preach three times on Sabbath at Battle Creek and then, tired out, spend the time until midnight answering letters and preparing copy for the printer. On one occasion he preached four times on Sunday, commencing at nine in the morning, and transacted business with probably a hundred persons, handling amounts from penny tracts up to ten dollar offerings, the entire transactions amounting to three hundred dollars.  

     In July, 1881, he attended a camp meeting at Charlotte, Michigan. While there he took a severe cold as the result of a sudden change of the weather. He returned home in an exhausted state. Each day he became worse. On July 31, both he and his wife began to suffer from malarial fever, and on August 3, James White and his wife were tenderly placed on a mattress in a hack, where they lay side by side for the last time, and were taken to the sanitarium. He continued to grow worse, and on Sabbath, August 6, 1881, the fragile thread that bound him to life was broken. He died with the full desire to rest. His wife, who had so loyally stood by his side through the many years of struggle, nobly upheld him in his last hours with prayers and words of encouragement. On account of the great distance some of the relatives had to come, the funeral was deferred until the next Sabbath, when Uriah Smith, his associate for thirty years in the editorial room of the Review and Herald, preached the sermon, and the man of God was buried in the family plot where his eldest and youngest sons had been buried before him.    

     The congregation was the largest that had ever assembled at a funeral in Battle Creek. For two decades he had stood as the acknowledged head of the developing denomination, and had built up the press, the college, and the sanitarium. Throughout the whole land members of the denomination which he had given his life to found and build up, mourned his passing and paid tribute to James White, pioneer publisher, builder, organizer, and leader.

1938 END, FOME 155-194