Ellen White comments on the American Civil War
Accused of False Predictions Concerning the Civil War

Historical Background
A Warning Message, or a Bitter Denunciation Message?
Divided It Will Fall
England Thinking About Attacking USA During Civil War
The Timing of EGW's messages on the Civil War
The Vision at Parksville, Michigan, and it's fulfilment
National Fast not Acceptable, What Fast did God Want?
Will Slavery be Revived in the South?

First we need to look at the general history in order to understand what Ellen White wrote. There are points which we must keep in mind as look at the accusations brought against her:

Historical Background

  • The initial aim of the North in civil war was NOT to free the slaves, it was simply to keep the country united.
  • The North did not start the war in order to free the slaves.
  • The south wanted to separate "peacefully" if possible, and gain independence from the North. But the North would not allow this and fought to maintain the union.

After the Constitution was adopted in 1789, creating one nation, differences between the states had been worked out through compromises. By 1861 the following differences between the Northern States (which include the Mid-western and Western States) and the Southern States had become so great that compromise would no longer work.

1. Tariffs. In 1828, Northern businessmen urged passage of the "Tariff Act". The purpose of the law was to encourage the manufacture of products in the United States, and to encourage the South to buy these products from the North instead of from Europe.
2. States Rights- In the years before the Civil War, the balance of political power in the Federal Government, centered in Washington, D.C., was changing. The Northern and Mid-Western States were becoming more and more powerful as their population increased. This meant that the Southern States were losing political power in the Federal government and southern politicians felt that their interests were not being served.
3. Economic Jealousy The depression following 1837 economic "panic" emphasized the disparity between northern and southern economies. Before and after the depression the economy of the South prospered. Southern cotton sold abroad totalled 57% of all American exports before the war. The Panic of 1857 devastated the North and left the South virtually untouched. The clash of a wealthy, agricultural South and a poorer, industrial North was intensified by abolitionists who used the class struggle to further their cause.
4. Slavery-Agriculture was the South’s primary industry and cotton the primary farm product. Not having machinery it took much labor to work the fields. The South thought it their constitutional right to own slaves, while many in the north a growing abolitionist movement was developing.
5. Expansion Plans Lincoln's platform was not to destroy slavery in the South, but to prevent its spread into new states. This was unacceptable to the South, who believed they had as much a right to expand their culture as the North. Lacking the economic and imperialist expansion pressures, it is possible that the issue would not have come to blows.

So we see the northern states were divided on the slavery issues, with some taking the abolitionist stand while others merely wanted to stop it from spreading into the new territories, but did not want to upset the economic stability of the south. "Preserve the Union" was the battlecry"

Abraham Lincoln was elected President of the United States in 1860. He vowed to keep the country united and the new western territories free from slavery. Despite Lincoln’s promise to not interfere with slavery in the South, many Southerners were afraid that he was not sympathetic to their way of life and would not treat them fairly. Lincoln’s personal and political views of slavery were evolving, but at this point he was primarily concerned with keeping the United States together as one nation.
The South was upset because Lincoln came to the presidency mainly on "northern" votes, however they were wrong to assume Lincoln intended to free the slaves. He had never advocated action to abolish slavery nor did he speak out against the Illinois rules prohibiting blacks from testifying against whites. In his inaugural address Lincoln made it clear he would not interfere with slavery where it existed. Even though he made this speech after the South seceded he left the door open for their return.

The North did not start the war to free slaves. (Even though there were northerners who THOUGHT this was the aim, a study of the political situation show the FREEING OF SLAVES was NOT the reason the North went to war against the south.) The South however, were fearful of losing the right to own slaves if they remained in the Union.

In fact "escaped slaves" who risked everything to flee to the north, were captured by northern law enforcers and shipped back to their owners! During the 1800’s many slaves escaped from the South to freedom in the North. Even once the slaves reached the North they were not safe because of the Fugitive Slave Laws which gave the southern slave owners the right to track down their escaped slaves in the north. Further, anyone caught assisting an escaped slave faced harsh penalties and long prison sentences.
There were northern generals who had no intentions of freeing any slaves and were right disturbed that others thought this should be done.

Not till Lincoln made the final declaration that slaves were to be free, could God's favor be on the north and they eventually won.

A Warning From a Prophet, or Just Bitter Denunciation


Cannot God see the end from the beginning? Could God not see the United States would not be divided and fall? Could God not see England would not declare war against the United States? The following quote was written during the civil war. Sister White had no message from God for President Lincoln, instead she mocked his call to the Nation for prayer and fasting: "A national fast is proclaimed! Oh, what an insult to Jehovah!" ("Testimonies," Vol. I., p. 257). What Sister White did say she received from God during the nation's crises of civil war, the statements "divided it must fall" and "when England does declare war", came to naught. It is all a bitter denunciation of Lincoln's administration and his management of the war. Every move had been wrong, and only defeat was prophesied. But the verdict of history is that Lincoln was one of the wisest and most successful men who ever led a nation through a crisis. Why does the church still publish this stuff?

“Said the angel: "Hear, O heavens, the cry of the oppressed, and reward the oppressors double according to their deeds." This nation will yet be humbled into the dust.


To get the message Ellen White wrote in it's full context see Ellen White's Writings on the Civil War,

Let’s look at a few facts in relation to these accusations against EGW. First we must establish the fact that a prophet is not a psychic. A prophet’s messages have to do with issues dealing with a person’s, or a nation’s, relationship to God, and with their Christian walk. Thus we see EGW's message more concerned with the attitudes the population had at the time of writing--addressing the "now condition" and where those attitudes would lead, IF they were not changed. While a psychic deals with speculating about what is going to happen to famous individuals etc. a prophet is given messages of warning and reproof in the hopes that a change will take place.

There was no way that God could bless the war efforts under the conditions they were then being conducted and it would be totally out of character for God to send a message of "assurance that all would end well". It is exactly the message people think EGW should have given which would have been the message of a false prophet, for all would NOT BE WELL as long as the country continued the way they were going.

Now the accuser says EGW's comments were "a bitter denunciation of Lincoln's administration and his management", yet Mrs. White does not even mention him by name. She is concerned about the trend of affairs, and the actions of an array of government leaders and generals and the conditions then prevailing which was costing the lives of thousands. (More than 600,000 men gave their lives for their country in this war. This is more lives lost in one war than in all wars and conflicts combined following this period in time.}

Ellen White was not merely repeating "bitter denunciation against Lincoln". In fact many of the vicious attacks directed against Lincoln and his administration by his political opponents were not made because he failed to take a decided stand against slavery. Frank Monaghan in "Heritage of Freedom" writes: "Many in the Union Armies were not anti-slavery men." Many business men in the North were not anti-slavery either, they wanted the business with the South and had no desire to disturb the economy of the rich Southerners.

In fact, Lloyd Garrison, founder of the abolitionist movement, was (in 1835) dragged through the streets with a halter around his neck--not in a Southern city but in Boston. The mob was so vicious, the mayor put Garrison in prison "for his protection" and even enroute to prison the mob beat on his carriage.

United We Stand, Divided We Must Fall

Mrs. White wrote: "Had our nation remained united, it would have had strength; but divided it must fall." 1T 260 No such thing happened. It was not divided, nor did it fall.

As a warning to the United States, no statement was more true than the,"Divided it must fall" statement. The reason the South was victorious in so many of the early battles was not because they had larger or better armies. The North far outnumbered them in men and equipment. The repeated successes of the South was the result of their unity in fighting for their freedom from the North. The North lost many battles and men because of their divisions and disunity. Did Ellen White consign the Government to defeat and collapse? No, but if the North remained divided as to it's purposes in the war, they would not, could not win. As long as the country was divided it was destroying itself.

England Was Thinking of Attacking America

In 1862 EGW predicted that "when England does declare war [against the North] all nations will have an interest of their own to serve, and there will be general war, general confusion." The result will be that "this nation (the United States) will be humbled into the dust." (1T. 259)
History shows that England did not "declare war" against the United States during the Civil War, and United States was not "humbled into the dust.

Again one must read the sentence in it's context.

Said the angel: "Hear, O heavens, the cry of the oppressed, and reward the oppressors double according to their deeds." This nation will yet be humbled into the dust. England is studying whether it is best to take advantage of the present weak condition of our nation, and venture to make war upon her. She is weighing the matter, and trying to sound other nations. She fears, if she should commence war abroad, that she would be weak at home, and that other nations would take advantage of her weakness. Other nations are making quiet yet active preparations for war, and are hoping that England will make war with our nation, for then they would improve the opportunity to be revenged on her for the advantage she has taken of them in the past and the injustice done them. A portion of the queen's subjects are waiting a favorable opportunity to break their yoke; but if England thinks it will pay, she will not hesitate a moment to improve her opportunities to exercise her power and humble our nation. When England does declare war, all nations will have an interest of their own to serve, and there will be general war, general confusion. England is acquainted with the diversity of feeling among those who are seeking to quell the rebellion. She well knows the perplexed condition of our Government; she has looked with astonishment at the prosecution of this war--the slow, inefficient moves, the inactivity of our armies, and the ruinous expenses of our nation. The weakness of our Government is fully open before other nations, and they now conclude that it is because it was not a monarchial government, and they admire their own government, and look down, some with pity, others with contempt, upon our nation, which they have regarded as the most powerful upon the globe. Had our nation remained united it would have had strength, but divided it must fall. - You will notice that she precedes the state with two CONDITIONAL statements:

  • 1. If she (England) should commence war abroad...
  • 2. If England thinks it will pay, she will not hesitate...
If these conditions are met and England declares war it would also involve many other nations and general war would result.

The point again returns -- IF the North [United States government] had continued it's course of merely seeking to preserve the union without addressing the divisive issues, and not taken a united stand against slavery, all these warning predictions would have come true.

A similar use of the word "when" is found on the preceding page of this testimony which puts all this into perspective:

"When our nation observes the fast which God has chosen, then will he accept their prayers as far as the war is concerned."
This clearly a conditional phrase.
If you do this-- then this result will take place.

Remember, EGW wrote the above words on August 3, 1861, at this point the North was still confident of a quick and easy victory. Were they "humbled to the dust"?

Our government has been very proud and independent, The people of this nation have exalted themselves to heaven, and have looked down upon monarchical governments, and triumphed in their boasted liberty, while the institution of slaver, that was a thousand times worse than the tyranny exercised by monarchial governments, was suffered to exist and was cherished." (258-259) It is in the very next paragraph after this statement that we find the words: "This nation will yet be humbled into the dust".

In his book "Ellen White and Her Critics" Francis Nichol asks the question "Was this country of America humbled in the eyes of the countries overseas?" He then proceeds to quote from the London Times (Jan. 20, 1863) which had printed the words of an American Reverend who had blessed the name of God for having so "humbled the nation [United States]." He continues on pages 120-121:
"On July 4, 1863, the London Times referred to the date of the American Independence Day, describing it as 'this day of festivity, now converted into a day of humiliation.'
"Thus spoke the London Times in the darkest days of the Civil War. The fact that this leading English paper was most evidently writing in vengeful glee, does not therefore make unwarranted the use of its words as testimony. Something very humiliating must have been happening to the United States to make England's most conservative, most representative paper speak as it did. That the United States was greatly humbled, so far as England was concerned, is not opened to question. We think historians would agree that the London Times was not inventing a story, but was presenting a substantially true picture.... no one can read these quotations from the London Times in the setting of Mrs. White's statement about the pride of America, without concluding that her prediction that this country would be humbled in the dust, found more than ample fulfillment in the conditions that actually did develop."

The Dates of Ellen White's Civil War Visions

Now let’s look at some dates:

  • December 20, 1860     South Caroline secedes from the Union
  • January 9, 1861           Mississippi secedes.
  • January 10, 1861         Florida secedes
  • January 11, 1861         Alabama secedes.
  • January 12, 1861         ELLEN WHITE’S VISION concerning the civil war AT PARKVILLE, MICHIGAN
  • January 19, 1861         Georgia secedes
  • February 1, 1861         Texas secedes
  • February 4, 1861         Constitution of Confederate States drafted
  • February 18, 1861       Jefferson Davis inaugurated president of the South
  • March 4, 1861             Abraham Lincoln inaugurated president of the USA
  • April 12, 1861             Confederate Southern military fires on Fort Sumter at Charleston, a federal garrison in South Carolina, which surrenders to the Confederate troops and thus opens the Civil War.

    At the time of EGW’s first vision on the civil war, three months before the first shots were fired, the general feeling in America was that there would most likely be no civil war and if there were, it would be short, with Union forces winning a quick victory that would end the problem.

  • August 3, 1861           Second Vision about the civil war. (Recorded in Testimonies Vol. 1 pages 253-268)
  • January 4, 1862          Third Vision about the civil war. (Recorded in Testimonies Vol. 1 pp.355-368 )
  • September 22,1862     Emancipation Proclamation announced to take effect January
  • January 1, 1863,         U.S. President Abraham Lincoln declared freedom for all slaves residing in territory in rebellion against the federal government.
    This Emancipation Proclamation actually freed few people. It did not apply to slaves in border states fighting on the Union side; nor did it affect slaves in southern areas already under Union control. Naturally, the states in rebellion did not act on Lincoln's order. But the proclamation did show Americans-- and the world--that the civil war was now being fought to end slavery.

  • Dec. 18, 1865         Passage of 13th Amendment which officially ended slavery.

Ellen White's First Vision about the Civil War and It's Fulfilment


"There is not a person in this house who has even dreamed of the trouble that is coming upon this land. People are making sport of the secession ordinance of South Carolina, but I have just been shown that a large number of States are going to join that State, and there will be a most terrible war. In this vision I have seen large armies of both sides gathered on the field of battle. I heard the booming of the cannon, and saw the dead and dying on every hand. Then I saw them rushing up engaged in hand-to-hand fighting [bayoneting one another]. Then I saw the field after the battle, all covered with the dead and dying. Then I was carried to prison, and saw the suffering of those in want, who were wasting away. Then I was taken to the homes of those who had lost husbands, sons, or brothers in the war. I saw there distress and anguish." Then looking slowly around the house she said:-- "There are those in this house who will lose sons in that war." _

Here we see, that three months before the first shots were fired, during a time when editorial writers like Horace Greeley for the New York Tribune, were saying “a few old women with broomsticks could go down there and beat out all of their rebellion!”, EGW is telling people there would be a terrible war.

Almost exactly one year after the Parkville church dedication, another meeting was taking place in Parkville. Present were two men who had heard Ellen White’s prediction of a certain, long war, with local SDA families suffering casualties. Their immediate reaction to her words had been total disbelief. Now a year later, they simply sat there sobbing, as they were reminded of the earlier prediction. Only six week previously one of these men had buried his only son, a victim of the war. The man sitting beside him had also lost a son in the war and had a second one facing an extremely doubtful future in a rebel prisoner of war camp.

What Type of Fast Will God Accept?

Sister White had no message from God for President Lincoln, instead she mocked his call to the Nation for prayer and fasting: "A national fast is proclaimed! Oh, what an insult to Jehovah!" ("Testimonies," Vol. I., p. 257). She also states the war was not to free the slaves. Yet everyone knows now that the slaves were freed during the Civil War.

On August 3, 1861, less than eight months after the first Civil War vision, EGW received her second vision on this subject. That date was set aside as a day for national fasting and prayer on behalf of the war efforts. This is the one that is recorded in Testimonies Volume 1. This one was given when the North was actually helping the South get their slaves back--- those slaves WHO THOUGHT THE NORTH WOULD HELP THEM and risked everything to flee to the north only to be captured by the law people in the north and returned to torture and often death.

The north was at that point totally divided on whether they should free the slaves or no.

As we noted in the historical background section, the north was more interested in "saving the union", then freeing the slaves. While they didn't approve of establishing any new "slave" territories, they didn't really want to "undo" the southern economy either.

Here is a letter written by Lincoln himself August 22, 1862.

I would save the Union. I would save it the shortest way under the Constitution. The sooner the national authority can be restored; the nearer the Union will be "the Union as it was." If there be those who would not save the Union, unless they could at the same time save slavery, I do not agree with them. If there be those who would not save the Union unless they could at the same time destroy slavery, I do not agree with them. My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or to destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that. What I do about slavery, and the colored race, I do because I believe it helps to save the Union; and what I forbear, I forbear because I do not believe it would help to save the Union.

It is true that in the vision God revealed to Ellen White that He could not honour the fasting and prayers --
This is a Biblical principle--

God could not bless the north till they made their commitment to free the slaves.

Isaiah 58.3-7
We have fasted, say they, why don't you take notice? We have sacrificed ourselves, why don't aren't you impressed?
I will tell you why, for in the day of your fast you find pleasure in evil, and keep right on oppressing your workers.
Look, you fast for strife and debate, and to smite with the fist of wickedness: . This kind of fasting will never get you anywhere with me.
Is it such a fast that I have chosen? This doing penance and bowing down his head as a bulrush, and spreading sackcloth and ashes under him? do you call this a fast, and an acceptable day to the LORD?
No, the kind of fast that I have chosen is to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke?

Ellen White wrote: "When our nation observes the fast which God has chosen, then will He accept their prayers as far as the war is concerned; but now they enter not into his ear, 1T 257

In his book, "Great Second Advent Movement," Elder Loughborough in speaking of this matter, says:

"Those who are familiar with the history of the war are aware of the defeats, disasters, delays, etc., connected with the efforts of the North to conquer the southern forces up to the time the emancipation proclamation was made--Jan. 1, 1863., then how rapid were the conquests from that time to the close of the war! How evident, to those who were watching the progress of the work, was the fulfilment of that prediction of January 4, 1862. After the burdens were lifted, the bondage loosened and the yoke broken from the slave! how evident that God heard the prayers of His people, and favored the effort to close the war when they chose the fast pleasing to Him!"


Mrs. White goes on: "They [the soldiers] inquire, 'If we succeed in quelling the rebellion, what has been gained?' They can only answer discouragingly, 'Nothing'" (p. 255). Fine language to encourage Mr. Lincoln, the soldiers and the North in the dark hour of their need! She continues: "The system of slavery, which has ruined our nation, is left to live and stir up another rebellion" (same page). A plain, false prophecy. No such thing happened, as all now know.

Strange how things are presented out of context here to make it appear there is a "failed prophecy".
The North at this time has NOT made a commitment to free the slaves. Yet bloody battles, with great lose of life are being raged. 600,000 men lost their lives in that war. What for? Have the soldiers who are giving their lives no right to ask? If slavery is preserved any peace and bringing together of the union would be just a bandage solution over a smoldering sore.

Until the North committed to freeing the slave it WAS only to save the union.
The soldiers had every right to inquire, "If we succeed in quelling the rebellion, what has been gained?"
The accuser is worried about Lincoln being "discouraged", what about the men in the field being discouraged because Lincoln and the guys in the office as well as the generals leading the armies, would not commit to freeing the slaves, but were merely saying they wanted to save the union. What about all those wives and mothers and sisters in every town and village mourning the loss of a loved one. Why? All because the north was divided and would not commit to freeing the slaves. EGW is dealing with the reality of the situation.

The country was in a valley of decision-- EVERYTHING as to the outcome DEPENDED on that decision.

Once the commitment was made-- how fast the war was won!

Will Slavery be Revived in the South?

In fact, she even prophesied that slavery would be revived again in the South: "Slavery will again be revived in the Southern States; for the spirit of slavery still lives. Therefore it will not do for those who labor among the colored people to preach the truth as boldly and openly as they would be free to do in other places. Even Christ clothed His lessons in figures and parables to avoid the opposition of the Pharisees." Spalding, Magan Collection, page 21 and 2 MR #153, page 300 You decide if this is a true prophecy?

The above quote was taken from a letter written to "missionaries" working for the freed colored peoples in the South. The issue was over the "Sunday Laws" which were being enforced in the south, and whether or not to teach the black people to defy the no work restriction on Sundays.
When we read the quote in context we see it is in connection with Sunday laws. Ellen White cautions them NOT to encourage the blacks to openly work on Sunday for it would stir up prejudice and give occasion for unnecessary trouble. "Slavery will again be revived in the Southern States; for the spirit of slavery still lives..... The same spirit that held the colored people in slavery is not dead, but alive today, and ready to spring into activity. The same spirit of oppression is still cherished in the minds of many of the white people of the South and will reveal itself in cruel deeds, which are the manifestation of their religious zeal....SpM 19.6

So we see a connection being made between "revived slavery" and a spirit that seeks to accuse the black person of defying the laws, by which the southern whites can justify themselves in placing him back into "slavery".

It is our desire that this prophecy does not come true, and that it was only a warning to be careful to avoid trouble.
However, it could happen for "the spirit of slavery" and "white supremacy" is indeed very much alive, as you can see from this posting.

Saturday February 15, 2003
Lake City, Florida
White Revolution takes to the streets!
White Revolution invites you to help support southern heritage and pro White Confederate sentiment.
Parade scheduled to begin at 10:30 AM. White Revolution members and supporters will be on hand to support the pro-Confederate Whites and pass out White Nationalist literature to those who are gathered to observe the parade.
Yes, that is taking place NOW! There are white supremacy groups who have totally put aside the truth upon which America was founded, ---that all men are equal before God.

Prison Gangs forced to labour, have been reinstituted. Alabama lead the way in 1995, then "outlawed" chaining the prisoners together, but the prison work gang still have their own legs chained together as they go out to do "free labour". Hear this cry from a black prisoner:

Scores of men wearing white prison issue, legs shackled man to man rankles. The return of this practice, one which has similar symbology as slavery, is a testament to the ulterior motive of U.S. corrections: humiliation.

Now, Alabama has stepped back into the morbid, repressive past, to recoup the sagging political futures of some pitiful public representatives.

For 12 gruelling hours a day men in chains, chafing, biting leg irons, slash and chop at weeds, making Alabama beautiful for tourists. While the highways of 'Bama are beautified, their treatment of sentient humans are uglified. As an act of State power, corrections are a synonym for 'humiliation', a legislative echo of degradation.

Here are two more quotes from E.G.White which tie in to this concept: RP.1907-12-03.006
Often when Sabbath-keepers in the Southern states are arrested for working on Sunday, they are sent to the chain-gang, where they are forced to work on the Sabbath.

Church members and priests and rulers will combine to organize secret societies to work in their land to whip, imprison, and destroy the lives of the colored race. History will be repeated.

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