The Advent Herald, initially entitled Signs of the Times, was the first periodical of the Millerite movement and the most enduring of those initiated in the early 1840s.
Signs of the Times (1840-1844)
Joshua V. Himes, a Boston minister and reform activist, initiated the periodical soon after pledging to give nationwide publicity to the message agitated by the New England preacher William Miller concerning the imminent Second Coming of Christ. The first number of Signs of the Times was issued on March 20, 1840, edited by Himes and published by Dow & Jackson, a Boston firm specializing in anti-slavery publications.1 The second issue carried the date April 15, 1840, and then the paper appeared bimonthly for the next two years. It had eight pages and an annual subscription rate of one dollar in advance.2
After a successful first year, Himes re-negotiated terms with Dow & Jackson so that profits could be funneled more directly to the Second Advent cause. Himes took financial responsibility as publisher while agreeing to retain Dow & Jackson as printers.3 In April 1842, two years into publication, Himes claimed 5,000 subscribers and publication frequency was increased to weekly.4 The paper’s title was changed to Advent Herald in February 1844.5
Advent Herald (1844-1874)
Himes remained the principal force behind the periodical until 1858. Josiah Litch assisted him, August 1841 through February 1844,6 and Sylvester Bliss helped from November 1842 to February 1846.7 A further assistant, Apollos Hale, appeared March 1844 through February 1846.8
The Advent Herald became the leading paper of the majority sector of post-1844 Adventists who rejected the distinctive claims of the minority faction that became Seventh-day Adventists, in particular: 1) that the prophecy of Daniel 8:14 was in fact fulfilled on October 22, 1844, when Christ began a final work of cleansing the sanctuary in heaven; and 2) observance of the seventh-day Sabbath is required of those preparing for the return of Christ to earth. The non-Sabbatarian majority then divided in the 1850s over conditional immortality vs. immortality of the soul. In 1858, those who affirmed the latter formed the American Millennial Association, which became the publisher of the Advent Herald.
Himes continued as editor for another year, with two assistants, John Pearson, Jr. and Lemuel Osler.9 Sylvester Bliss became editor in January 1860, serving until February 1863, just prior to his death on March 6.10 An entirely new committee was nominated to edit the Advent Herald, made up of Josiah Litch, J.M. Orrock and Robert R. Knowles.11 The following three years, 1864 through 1866, Litch held full responsibility. He reduced the size of the periodical to four sides.12 No extant copies remain for most of the following years, though 12 issues have survived from 1873-1874. By then, Orrock had taken on the role of editor with the assistance of a committee of Litch, Osler, H. Canfield, W.H. Swartz and C. Cunningham.13 Early in 1874 the name of the periodical was changed to Messiah’s Herald.14 Seven issues in total from the years 1874, 1876, and 1877 are accessible at Adventist Digital Library. In 1876 and 1877 Orrock was the only listed editor.15
The columns of Advent Herald contain the matrix of Millerite theology in addition to the voices of critics. It provides primary evidence chronicling the rise of Adventism to national notoriety in the 1840s and its subsequent divisions that generated new Christian denominations.
Signs of the Times of the Second Coming of Christ (March 1840-March 1841); Signs of the Times and Expositor of Prophecy (April 1841-January 1844); Advent Herald and Signs of the Times Reporter (February 1844-August 1845); Advent Herald and Morning Watch (August 1845-February 1846); Advent Herald (February 1846-1873); Messiah’s Herald (1874-1877).
Joshua V. Himes (1840-1859); Sylvester Bliss (1860-1863); Josiah Litch (1863-?); J. M. Orrock (?-1877).
Advent Herald. Adventist Digital Library. Accessed November 10, 2022. https://www.adventistdigitallibrary.org/islandora/search/advent%20herald?type=edismax.
Messiah’ Herald. Adventist Digital Library. Accessed November 10, 2022. https://www.adventistdigitallibrary.org/islandora/object/adl%3A367117/%3Fview_only%3Dtrue.
Arthur, David Tallmadge. “Joshua V. Himes and the Cause of Adventism, 1839-1845.” M.A. thesis, University of Chicago, 1961.
Knight, George R. Millennial Fever and the End of the World: A Study of Millerite Adventism. Boise, ID: Pacific Press, 1993.
“‘Occupy till I Come.’” Advent Herald, February 15, 1844.
“The Fourth Commandment and Sunday-Keepers.” ARH, December 11, 1855.
Wellcome, Isaac C. History of the Second Advent Message and Mission, Doctrine and People. Boston, MA: Advent Christian Publication Society, 1874.
George R. Knight, Millennial Fever and the End of the World: A Study of Millerite Adventism (Boise, ID: Pacific Press, 1993), 73-77; David Tallmadge Arthur, “Joshua V. Himes and the Cause of Adventism, 1839-1845” (M.A. thesis, University of Chicago, 1961), 22-23.↩
Masthead, Signs of the Times, March 20, 1840, 8.↩
Arthur, “Joshua V. Himes,” 52-53.↩
Knight, Millennial Fever, 78; the first of the weekly issues was April 6, 1842.↩
“‘Occupy till I Come,’” Advent Herald, February 15, 1844, 8.↩
Masthead, Signs of the Times, August 2, 1841, 72.↩
Masthead, Signs of the Times, November 23, 1842, 77; Advent Herald, February 4, 1846, 201.↩
Masthead, Advent Herald, March 6, 1844, 33, and February 4, 1846, 201.↩
Masthead, Advent Herald, January 8, 1859, 1.↩
Josiah Litch, “Death of Sylvester Bliss,” Advent Herald, March 10, 1863, 68-69.↩
Masthead, Advent Herald, January 6, 1863, 417.↩
Masthead, Advent Herald, February 2, 1864, 17.↩
Masthead, Advent Herald, February 12, 1873, 25.↩
Masthead, Messiah’s Herald, January 28, 1874, 13.↩
Masthead, Messiah’s Herald, May 24, 1876, 81, and February 14, 1877, 25. The American Antiquarian Society has nearly complete holdings for 1875 and 1876, catalogue accessed May 11, 2023, http://clarence.mwa.org/Clarence/full-holding.php?bib_id=398979.↩