The Ellen G. White Letters and Manuscripts: Volume 1


WHITE, Nathaniel (1831-1853)

A younger brother of James Springer White, Nathaniel White died at age 21 of tuberculosis. Most of what is known of Nathaniel's life is found in the tract A Brief Account of the Last Sickness and Death of Nathaniel White, published by James White. At age 10, during the Millerite awakening, Nathaniel was “soundly converted,” as James White puts it, but after “the great declension, about 1844,” he lost interest in religion. Instead he focused on becoming “a man in the world; to get an education and fill some high station.” 1EGWLM 909.2

In Nathaniel's late teens his health started to fail. According to his sister Anna White, he began to spit blood during the winter of 1851-1852. Refusing to be intimidated by his illness, Nathaniel left his parents’ farm in Palmyra, Maine, in the summer of 1852 and set off for Boston, Massachusetts, where he got a job. He worked for months, even though he became increasingly weak to the point that he had to hang on to the staircase railings at his boardinghouse to avoid falling backward. He later admitted that he “murmured against God and thought it was cruel he could not have strength.” 1EGWLM 909.3

A turning point came in October 1852, when James White had an emotional meeting with Nathaniel in Boston, followed by an invitation for Nathaniel to join James and Ellen in Rochester, New York, with the hope that he might regain his health and possibly assist in the Review office. The next month Nathaniel arrived in Rochester, together with his sister, Anna, also afflicted by tuberculosis. Although Nathaniel's health continued to fail despite the prayers of the Rochester group, his Christian faith revived in the months before his death. On the day of his death, May 6, 1853, he confided to Ellen White, “I now feel reconciled to my sickness. I know that it is the only thing that will save me. I will praise the Lord, if he can save me through affliction.” 1EGWLM 909.4

See: Obituary: “Nathaniel White,” Review, May 26, 1853, p. 8; J. White, A Brief Account of the Last Sickness and Death of Nathaniel White, Who Died May 6th, 1853 (Rochester, N.Y.: Advent Review Office, 1853), esp. pp. 3, 11; Almira Larkin White, Genealogy of the Descendants of John White of Wenham and Lancaster, Massachusetts, 1638-1900 (Haverhill, Mass., Chase Brothers, Printers, 1900), vol. 2, p. 502; Anna White to “Dear Brother and Sister Tenney,” Mar. 6, 1853. 1EGWLM 910.1