Ellen G. White: The Progressive Years: 1862-1876 (vol. 2)


The First Issue of the Signs of the Times

The idea of a weekly paper published on the Pacific Coast had been conceived by James White while he was in the Rocky Mountains in the summer of 1873. He had made the proposal in an article in the Review, and at the General Conference session in November. Now in Oakland, in connection with the evangelistic meetings, he moved ahead in starting the journal. He did so on his own responsibility, not waiting for formal committee authorization or promise of sound financial support. He worked through May in getting the first copy of Signs of the Times edited, set in type, and printed. It appeared on June 4, 1874. The eight-page sheet was large, the same size as the Review and Herald. The objectives of the editor were twofold. It was to be an evangelistic newspaper, and it was to be a means of communication among the Seventh-day Adventist churches west of the Great Plains. 2BIO 417.4

The whole of the first page was given to a James White article on the state of the churches and the world. The four columns of page 2, and one on page 3, presented an article on the millennium. Page 3 contained a lengthy statement of the fundamental principles of Seventh-day Adventist belief. The editorial on page 4, titled “The Reasons Why,” was self-explanatory. Then he included three columns on the question of leadership. An E. G. White item on Christian recreation followed, and the next three pages carried articles on a number of subjects. The issue closed with a full column advertising Seventh-day Adventist publications. 2BIO 418.1

The “terms,” characteristic of James White, read: 2BIO 418.2

Two dollars a year to those who choose to pay a subscription price, and free to all others as far as the paper is sustained by the donations of the liberal friends of the cause.—The Signs of the Times, June 4, 1874.

He sent twenty-five copies to the Review and Herald Office, and Uriah Smith immediately handed them out to the office hands. White was delighted to learn that by the next morning “thirty-one subscribers were obtained right on our old battlefield, in hearing of the groaning of the press of the Review and Herald.”—The Review and Herald, June 30, 1874. 2BIO 418.3