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William Miller

Caricatured as a “world burner” and ridiculed as a “date setter,” the apocalyptic hope that became William Miller’s (1782-1849) great pre-occupation was for a “re-created, restored, and redeemed world” with the Jesus he had found to be a friend personally present and reigning. Abolitionist standard-bearer William Lloyd Garrison criticized the millennialist theories of the Adventist revivalist, but not because they encouraged apathy about social injustice. To the contrary, Garrison characterized Miller as “particularly odious to the selfish conservatism of the day, on account of his hearty espousal of the great radical reforms which are now shaking the land. The cause of temperance, of anti-slavery, of moral reform, of non-resistance, finds in him an outspoken friend.” A letter giving Miller advance notice that a fugitive slave headed for Canada would soon arrive at his farm in upstate New York survives as evidence that the preacher’s social ideals went further than talk.

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