The day was April 3, 1843. Thousands of people fearing for the their lives had gathered on the hills of New England to await the prophesied end of the world. But even the obvious contrary outcome didn’t deter people’s faith in the man who had taken to predicting the apocalypse.
William Miller, was a farmer and a former atheist who brooded upon the Books of Daniel and Revelation, and issued his first warnings in 1831.
He became a preacher soon enough and set out to travel to various parts of the world. His prediction of the supposedly approaching doomsday were reinforced by shooting stars in 1833, haloes around the sun and a spectacular comet in 1843.
Then The New York Herald ran Miller’s story that the world would meet its end on April 3. And also that it would be due to a massive engulfing fire.
As the “ill-fated” third day of April was approaching, there were numerous reports of fanatics murdering their loved ones, and committing suicide, believing that the dead would be the first to enter the gates of Heaven.
In Westford the village ‘idiot’ blew a large horn and the followers of Miller, the Millerites screamed, “Hallelujah, the time has come!” The ‘idiot’ who was clearly not as stupid answered: “You fools, go dig your potatoes. Angel Gabriel won’t dig’em for you!”
Undaunted and unabashed, Miller revised the date to sometime before March 22, 1844, and once ore the Millerites believed. Some families dressed in shrouds and waited for the doomed end in graveyards.
Several Millerites sold all their possessions-although it is not recorded nor fully understood what they planned to do with all the money.
On March 22, Miller admitted that he had made a miscalculation and gave October 22 as the date of Armageddon.
One farmer took his cows, dressed in white robes. “It’s a long trip,” he said knowingly. “The kids will want milk.”
People waited anxiously. October 22-the world showed no signs of ending. October 23-People started to doubt, especially those who had sold their valuables. The world was still functioning just like any other day, and so was Miller, still in possession of all his worldly goods.
“Our fondest hopes and expectations were blasted, and such a spirit of weeping came over us as I never experienced before… We wept, and wept, till the day dawn.”
-A recording from a Millerite
This movement eventually broke up. At one time, it was said to have as much as 100,000 adherents. But some branches of the Adventist Church, derived from his teachings, survive today.
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