Adventist History Blurbs

British Adventists in WWI

About 130 British Seventh-day Adventists were conscripted during the Great War (1914–1918). Fourteen of these men served in a non-combatant corps (NCC) in France for 18 months. In late 1917, however, a new commander took charge and refused to grant them Sabbath privileges. In November, they were court martialed and imprisoned in the port-city Le Havre. They were brutally tortured there before their return to England a month later. One of these victims, H. W. Lowe, later petitioned that the Adventist Church in Great Britain be recognized by the government as a peace church. This privilege was granted in 1937, shortly before British Adventists were again tested in World War II. (Kevin Burton)

Civil War Non-Combatants

Several Adventists draftees suffered greatly throughout the last months of the Civil War because many army officers in the field refused to recognize their recently obtained non-combatant status. Since Carlton F. Hall would not bear arms he was accused of being “a rebel” and some of the officers threatened to hang or shoot him. When another Adventist draftee refused to take a gun he was “put under arrest forty eight hours, and then given thirty minutes to decide between taking a gun, and being court-marshaled.” Similarly, Joshua B. Ingalls refused to kill a fellow Americans and, according to some of his descendants, may have been court-martialed for his pacifist beliefs. Though they faced severe intolerance, many Adventist draftees held firm to their convictions and fought for peace. (Kevin Burton)

Irene Morgan

In 1944, Irene Morgan (1917-2007) suffered from a miscarriage and travelled to Virginia to recover physically and emotionally at her mother’s home. On July 16, she boarded a Greyhound bus to return home to Baltimore, Maryland. When a white couple boarded the bus a short time later, the driver told Morgan to surrender her seat to them. She refused and was arrested. Her case went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court in 1946, which ruled in a landmark decision that Virginia’s segregated interstate busing laws were unconstitutional. Morgan’s defiance inspired other protesters, including Rosa Parks who refused to give up her bus seat in 1955. In 2000, President Bill Clinton awarded Morgan the Presidential Citizens Medal for fighting for racial peace. (Kevin Burton)

Girouard v. United States (1946)

Prior to April 22, 1946, immigrants seeking naturalization in the United States were required to swear an oath that they would defend the country militarily if necessary. French Canadian James Louis Girouard applied for naturalization on August 8, 1940, and when asked if he would fight for the U.S., he replied, “No, I am a Seventh-day Adventist.” His case went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, and the 1946 case, Girouard v. United States, established the lasting precedent that pacifists could not be denied naturalization in the United States. (Kevin Burton)