Messenger of the Lord


Various Civil War Statements

Some have charged that Ellen White made either unsubstantiated or false statements during the Civil War in the United States (1861-1865). 5 But when comparing careful historians of that period, her comments stand today as not only relevant but accurate. From the earliest days of the conflict, she saw clearly the hidden agendas behind the stated causes or objectives of the North. MOL 486.4

Shortly after South Carolina seceded from the Union on December 20, 1860, even before the first shots were fired, Ellen White had a vision at Parkville, Michigan, on January 12, 1861. For the next few years she penned a continuing analysis of the motives and intrigue that characterized both Southern and Northern leaders. At that early date she was shown the naivete of the North, the rapid coalition of the Southern States, and the “terrible war” that would result, and the sober fact that families at that Parkville meeting would “lose sons in that war.” 6 MOL 486.5

On August 3, 1861, Mrs. White had another vision that revealed further aspects of the pro-slavery factions in the North, even in the highest levels of government. In fact, if everything was known, some leaders would be seen as traitors. She was given the reasons for the mysterious retreat of the Northern army at the first Battle of Manassas (Bull Run). 7 MOL 486.6

Her vision on January 4, 1862, in Battle Creek, Michigan, provided the young Seventh-day Adventist Church with additional background and insights regarding the terrible conflict and its impending cost in lives and resources—a picture that no other people had at that early date. 8 MOL 487.1

For these divinely given insights, Ellen White has been charged with being anti-Lincoln because, in the early years, he was more concerned about preserving the Union than with abolishing slavery. Because of the national fasts that were proclaimed invoking God to act on behalf of the North when they were more concerned about the rebellion against the Union than about the nefarious slave economy, Ellen White called such appeals to heaven “disgusting.” 9 MOL 487.2

Other charges are lifted out of context and made to appear contrary to fact. For example, note the reference to an alleged unfulfilled prophecy regarding England: “When England does declare war, all nations will have an interest of their own to serve, and there will be general war, general confusion.” 10 When that sentence is read in context, within that same paragraph with all the other conditional statements regarding England, the sense changes from a prediction to a possibility. “If England does declare war ....” MOL 487.3

On the previous page, Ellen White used the same grammatical construction: “When our nation observes the fast which God has chosen, then will He accept their prayers....” Mrs. White was not making a prediction but a conditional statement. This use of “when” for “if” is a common English practice. MOL 487.4

The charge is made that Ellen White thought that the Civil War was a sign that Jesus was about to return from heaven: “The signs of Christ’s coming are too plain to be doubted.... All heaven is astir. The scenes of earth’s history are fast closing. We are amid the perils of the last days.” 11 First, those thoughts were not focused on the Civil War specifically but on the world in general. Commenting later on the war, she wrote: “Everything is preparing for the great day of God. Time will last a little longer, until the inhabitants of the earth have filled up the cup of their iniquity, and then the wrath of God, which has so long slumbered, will awake, and this land of light will drink the cup of His unmingled wrath.” 12 MOL 487.5