Ellen G. White Writings

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Ellen G. White: The Progressive Years: 1862-1876 (vol. 2), Page 99

Chapter 8—(1864-1865) The War and Its Unexpected Close

In mid-1864 problems related to the war accelerated. Under the draft law passed by Congress on March 3, 1863, there was provision that those conscientiously opposed to bearing arms could be assigned “to duty in the hospitals, or to the care of freedmen,” or could, by the payment of $300, be excused from the draft (“The Views of Seventh-day Adventists Relative to Bearing Arms,” pp. 3,4). Under these liberal provisions, Seventh-day Adventists generally, if drafted, paid $300 and were excused from serving. In the light of the counsel given by God through Ellen White, it seemed consistent to take this course and thus escape the many problems of military service. But the law was amended on July 4, 1864; the $300 commutation provision, was revoked, but with Quakers seemingly in mind, the amendment declared:

“Nothing contained in this Act is to be construed to alter, or in any way affect the Law relative to those conscientiously opposed to bearing arms.”—The Review and Herald, 4 July, 1864.

This meant that the $300 commutation provision now applied only to those officially recognized as noncombatants. Up to this point Seventh-day Adventists, although firmly of that persuasion, had not publicly declared this fact, nor was their position officially recognized. The church must act quickly to obtain official noncombatant status. Church leaders, working through proper channels, took immediate steps to achieve this. The first step was to gain the endorsement of the governor of Michigan, Austin Blair. Hence the

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