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John Nevins Andrews, 1829-1883.

Photo courtesy of Ellen G. White Estate, Inc.

Andrews, John Nevins (1829–1883)

By Gilbert M. Valentine


Gilbert M. Valentine, Ph.D. has served internationally in teaching and senior administrative roles in Adventist higher education in Europe, Asia, the South Pacific and North America. He has written extensively in Adventist studies and has authored several books, including biographies of W. W. Prescott (2005) and J. N. Andrews (2019). The Prophet and the Presidents (2011) explored the political influence of Ellen White. He has also written for the Ellen G. White Encyclopedia (2013).

First Published: August 19, 2020

A pioneer writer and scholar-evangelist, John Nevins Andrews exercised wide influence in the early Seventh-day Adventist church serving alongside James and Ellen White and Joseph Bates as one of the inner circle of leaders involved in founding the movement. He held a variety of important leadership positions including General Conference president, editor of the Review and Herald, and local conference president. He also served as a long-term member of the General Conference Executive Committee. John Andrews is remembered most for his scholarly defense of Adventist doctrines, especially the seventh-day Sabbath in his celebrated History of the Sabbath, and for his pioneering role as the first official overseas missionary for the church.

Early Life (1829-1849)

John Andrews was born on July 29, 1829 in a sparsely settled farming community of southeastern Maine known as East Poland about 35 miles northwest of the coastal city of Portland. On his father’s side he could trace his forebears back through seven generations to a Henry Andrews who migrated to the American colonies in 1630 and settled in Boston, Massachusetts. His great-great grandfather David Andrews served for a time in the War of Independence and then in 1784 moved his family to the hamlet of North Paris where he established a new farm. John Andrews’ father, Edward (1797-1865), was born in North Paris but at seven years of age was sent to live with his maternal grandparents, John and Elizabeth Nevins to help work their farm in Mechanic Falls. He stayed with his Nevins grandparents for twenty-five years as a farm laborer and in 1827 married Sarah Pottle, the daughter of a well-to-do family in Minot, a neighboring town. After the birth of their first child, named John Nevins after his maternal grandfather, Edward and Sarah returned to the North Paris district to live among Edward’s siblings again.1 John Nevins Andrews grew up as an eldest son in a farming community surrounded by a close network of nine uncles and aunts that included four farmers, a lawyer, three successful merchants and a land developer. In childhood he enjoyed the company of a large number of cousins. His only sibling, a crippled younger brother, William, was born in 1838. A number of Andrews’ uncles and aunts established themselves in the town of Paris Hill, the Oxford County seat, which became the social hub for the family.

John’s mother, Sarah, traced her father’s heritage back through five generations of loyal British “Tory” forebears who had migrated to America in 1693. She traced her mother’s lineage back through the German Ricker family who had arrived in New England in 1750 and established themselves as a prominent hotelier family in the East Poland district at Poland Springs.2 On his mother’s side of his family John Andrews also inherited a wide circle of seven uncles and aunts. They were more broadly scattered around New England than his Andrews relatives but the Ricker-Potter connection also included merchants, teachers and an attorney. John Andrews thus inherited both European and British traditions shaped by a rich New England culture that valued individual liberty, family, religious faith, loyalty and above all, duty.

There is no record of John Andrews attending any of the local schools although there was a one-room elementary school located on his grandfather’s farm and there were other schools nearby. In 1843, at the age of fourteen, he attended a secondary school in Dixfield for six months while staying in the home of his Aunt Persis, a secondary school teacher, and Uncle Charles, an attorney who had served as a representative in the Maine legislature. After returning to practice law in Paris Hill, Charles Andrews had ambitions of sponsoring John through law school but John, along with his family, had become a Millerite and, believing that the world would soon end, declined the offer. According to his Aunt Persis, John was a “fine, promising boy – a very fine scholar and strictly moral.” He was well versed in Latin, Algebra and English grammar, but “better than all” he had “first rate common sense.”3 By his late teens Andrews had a well- trained intellect, a reading knowledge of several languages and a broad general knowledge. It seems that he acquired this extensive learning as an autodidact.

John Andrews relates that his “earliest religious conviction” occurred at church at the age of five when he heard a sermon by Methodist circuit preacher Daniel B. Randall on the “Great White Throne” of judgment portrayed in Rev. 20.11. The scene awed him with a deep sense of guilt and duty. At this time his mother entered his name upon the roll of his local Methodist Episcopalian Church. An acute sense of duty and accountability shaped his Christian experience thereafter.4 When he was twelve years of age (1842) John Andrews first heard Joshua Himes and other Millerite preachers. Some months later, in January 1843, under the conviction of the Millerite message about the soon coming of Christ and the end of the world, he reported that he “found the savior.”5 The local circuit preacher serving the North Paris Methodist congregation at the time, “Elder Brown,” was an enthusiastic Millerite.6 Local newspapers report that the Millerite movement “spread like wildfire” and won large numbers of adherents “in every part of town” in the hamlets around John Andrews’ home.7 Andrews and his family committed to the movement and together with a group of like-minded families formed a small Millerite congregation of their own in North Paris.

The Great Disappointment of October 22, 1844 proved to be a severe upheaval for John Andrews’ family and their fellow believers. It took some time of struggle to understand their experience before they were able to reconstruct their theology and their lives. In Andrews’ immediate community it was thought that being faithful to the hope of the imminent Advent meant not returning to work and not returning children to school. They relied on the sale of property by the wealthier among them to sustain them. Unusual practices like “crawling” and exchanging “the holy kiss” were also adopted as they worked through their crisis of faith. At various times they hosted young women who claimed to have the prophetic charisma.8 During this period of disorientation, confusion and community anxiety, some of Andrews’ closest friends were removed from their parents’ custody because they were considered unstable and placed under state guardianship. For a brief time John Andrews was himself sought by the local constable.9 The suicide of the lay pastor of John’s church, Jesse Stevens, a year or so after the Great Disappointment caused their community much additional trauma. Perceptions of how their non-Millerite relatives perceived the group and their strange practices during this time are provided in the pages of his Aunt Persis Sibley Andrews’ diary.10

In mid-1845 John Andrews encountered Seventh Day Baptist teaching concerning the continuing sacredness of the seventh-day Sabbath and with young family friends he made the decision to become a Sabbath keeper.11 The decision shaped the rest of his life and he eventually became one of the future Seventh-day Adventist church’s most scholarly apologists for seventh-day Sabbath observance.

During his seventeenth and eighteenth years, tensions within the small Sabbatarian community where he worshiped became severely strained by doctrinal conflict and the group ceased meeting together. Andrews apparently used this period for further home-based study. In September 1849, Ellen and James White together with Joseph Bates visited North Paris and succeeded in reviving the Sabbatarian Adventist group. The Whites and Bates had been conducting a series of Bible study conferences around New England, sharing their convictions about an emerging doctrinal consensus that tied together a new understanding of the Great Disappointment explained by the insight that while the date was correct, believers had expected the wrong event. Christ had moved from one apartment in heaven to the other as part of a great eschatological cleansing of the sanctuary in heaven. This insight linked together with the seventh-day Sabbath teaching gave new meaning to the prophecies of Daniel 8 and Revelation 14 and to their 1844 experience.

John Andrews, after some struggle, enthusiastically accepted the new understanding and joined forces with Bates and the Whites in taking the new synthesis to share with other former Millerites. The September 1849 conference proved to be a major turning point in Andrews’ life.12 During the meeting an outbreak of charismatic glossolalia was interpreted as a message directed to Andrews, telling him “that the Lord had called him to the work of the gospel ministry and he must prepare himself for it.”13 In retrospect, Ellen White confirmed that she viewed this conference as a time of healing and as the occasion of Andrews’ call to ministry.14

Early Ministry, Ordination and Health Problems (1850-1855)

Shortly after the 1849 conference, John Andrews moved with his parents from North Paris into a small rented house in Paris Hill. Twelve months later in October 1850, James and Ellen White moved from upstate New York to board with the poverty-stricken Andrews family in a larger rented home just off the town square at Paris Hill.15 At this place, writing copy on the kitchen table, John joined James and Ellen in preparing the first issues of the Review and Herald, a magazine destined to become the flagship publication of the Seventh-day Adventist church. He was a member of the initial “publishing committee,” and would be associated with the magazine either as a consulting editor or editor for the next thirty-two years until his death in 1883. His first serious contribution to the magazine was an article entitled “Thoughts on the Sabbath,” a compact 1,000-word piece that would presage in condensed form the many issues Andrews would address later in his life-long defense of the seventh-day Sabbath.16

In December 1850, in an initial mentoring partnership with an older former Millerite preacher, Samuel Rhodes, Andrews began his itinerant ministry traveling through Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine, with a focus on persuading former Millerites of the credibility of the new synthesis of the Sabbath and sanctuary truth. Along the way he was able to write up a 10,000-word article defending the perpetuity of the ten-commandment law. Later Andrews would partner with Joseph Bates and Hiram Edson in his itinerant ministry. This formed the pattern for the first years of Andrews’ ministry which eventually took him through New England several times, then down into Indiana and Ohio and up into Michigan. He eventually settled for a time with the Whites after they had moved the new magazine to Rochester, New York in 1852. Andrews would not return again to Paris Hill until 1855 by which time ill-health obliged him to withdraw from ministry.

During their earlier nine-month stay with the Andrews family in Paris Hill in 1850, relationships between Andrews’ parents and the Whites had broken down over misunderstandings about rent and the terms of agreement for sharing a house. Tense personal relationships had also developed between the Whites and other Paris Hill Sabbatarian Adventists, particularly the Stevens family who were close friends of the Andrews. The Whites complained that they were not being adequately supported. Close living arrangements, overwork, ill-health and “plain speaking” marred the connection and led the Whites to withdraw from the Andrews’ home in Paris Hill in June 1851. These difficult family relationships from Paris Hill days shadowed John Andrews’ personal affiliation with James and Ellen White for the rest of his life.

After leaving the Andrews family, James White took the magazine first to Saratoga Springs in upstate New York where supporters enabled him to acquire his own printing press. He then moved it further west to Rochester on the Erie Canal where the publishing enterprise began to flourish as the growing movement, with the help of John Andrews’ pen, began to extend its range of magazines and pamphlets. Andrews transferred his residence to Rochester and lived with the Whites again in their large home, which served as a boarding house for publishing employees and volunteers. For Andrews it also served as new base for his itinerant evangelism. This was a productive period for him as a maturing writer and speaker and he soon became Adventism’s leading scholarly, systematic exponent of doctrine and a highly effective apologist. He published extended series of polemical articles defending the Sabbatarian interpretation of Revelation 14, the 2,300-day prophecy of Daniel 8, and the cleansing of the sanctuary doctrine. These articles were soon turned into widely circulated booklets.17 He also engaged vigorously with numerous writers in other Millerite publications such as the Advent Harbinger and The World’s Crisis that were hostile to the doctrinal positions of Sabbatarian Adventists. James White regarded Andrews, who was 10 years his junior, as a Melanchthon-type colleague and he supported his fearless approach to defending their doctrine. “We approve of the mild, yet plain manner in which Bro. Andrews has defended his position; and fully believe that his letters are accomplishing, and will accomplish much good.” Andrews challenged, in straightforward debate, “opponents” who “impiously trample on the commandments of God.” Such sharp disputation, while pointed, was “a necessity and unavoidable.18

Andrews based his systematic expositions of the movement’s doctrinal positions on the conviction that “truth” was based on facts and that when facts were uncovered and clearly established, truth could be seen by all as just plain “common sense.” In this Scottish Enlightenment worldview, Andrews was shaped by the “common sense” philosophy which underlay the thought patterns of nineteenth century New England society. It derived from the Baconian scientific view that stressed the assembling of facts on any given topic and that when this was done the truth of the matter was “self-evident.”19 Whether or not Andrews actually read the works of Scottish philosophers such as Francis Hutcheson (1694-1790), Thomas Reid (1710-1796) or Dugald Stewart (1753-1828), their worldview formed the ground for his own underlying, sub-conscious philosophy. It framed all his writing, whether on health, ethics or religious doctrine. Andrews saw his role as setting out “the facts” on the Sabbath truth and on the prophetic fulfillments and the assemblage of facts would form an argument that would “speak for itself.”20

In late October 1853 Andrews attended a conference meeting of his colleagues at Newhaven, Vermont, in which study was given to the matter of “Gospel Order.” As a result of the meeting, John Andrews, at age twenty-four, was among the first small group of Sabbatarian Adventist ministers to be ordained to the gospel ministry.21 He was aware of the importance of the step. Authorizing the ordination of its own ministry was a significant stride forward for the movement, helping to build its self-identity and draw its boundaries. The step also expressed the emerging movement’s need to act for itself as a community of faith.

By 1854, the pressure of writing and editing while engaged in an itinerant evangelistic ministry and lodging in parishioners’ homes with no regular income began to wear away at Andrews’ health. The unhealthy, cramped, and impoverished living arrangements with the Whites when he was back in Rochester aggravated a chronic, severe catarrh and dyspepsia. Exposure to the contagion of tuberculosis in the White household did not help. Four members of the household died from the disease during 1854-1855. In spite of appeals from James White to leading men among the Review and Herald readership for more financial support for Andrews, little was forthcoming. He returned penniless and with broken down health to his parents’ home in Paris Hill in late April 1855 in order to recover.22 In the meantime, James White negotiated with supporters to move the Review and Herald publishing company further west to Battle Creek, Michigan, an initiative that apparently offended not only John Andrews but numerous other influential families in the Northeast.

Migration to Waukon, Iowa and Marriage (1856-1858)

At age twenty-six, in November 1855, John Andrews with his parents and brother migrated 1,400 miles west to the prairies of Waukon, in northeast Iowa. The location had a reputation as a much more healthful climate for those suffering from respiratory diseases. Andrews’ plan was to help his parents make a new start in life, establishing a farm with the help of finance from sympathetic relatives. The Stevens family from Paris Hill and other Sabbatarian Adventists from New York state and Vermont, some of whom had disagreed with James White’s decision over the relocation of the press, soon joined them. John Loughborough from Rochester was among the most influential.

Eleven months later, on October 29, 1856, Andrews married thirty-two-year-old Angeline Stevens (1824-1872), a childhood friend from Paris Hill. It was a marriage Ellen White felt quite ambivalent about, advising against it at first and then conceding reluctantly. She did not believe the relationship between the Andrews and Stevens families was a helpful one.23 As the membership of the Waukon group expanded to about thirty, Ellen and James White feared that with some disenchanted families among them Waukon could become an Adventist center competing for influence with Battle Creek, perhaps even becoming schismatic. Thus at the end of 1856 the couple made a winter-time visit to the group to bring about reconciliation. Misunderstandings were clarified and fears allayed and Ellen White succeeded in enticing John Loughborough back into fulltime ministry, doing more to assist him financially.

Six months later, in mid-1857, Uriah Smith, the office editor for the Review and Herald, now located in Battle Creek, married John Andrews’ sister-in-law, Harriet Stevens. The new family ties added layers of complexity and sensitivity to the delicate balance of influence and work relationships among the young church’s leadership families. While the Whites deeply respected the literary gifts of both Andrews and Smith and valued their contribution to the Advent cause, at times the Smith-Andrews axis, later allied through marriage to the influential Butler family, also from Waukon, was perceived as a threat to James White’s leadership. This gave rise to significant misunderstanding and conflict between the families.

Through this early period Andrews found difficulty relating to the prophetic charisma manifested in Ellen White, though not because he doubted that it was genuine. His problem related to why the charisma appeared to be manifested only in Ellen White when, according to his understanding of New Testament passages like 1 Corinthians 14:29, others in a congregation or a community might also experience the gift. In his Sabbatarian Adventist community in North Paris and among his relatives there were others who had claimed to experience similar charismatic phenomenon. Eventually he accepted his community’s conviction of the manifestation of the gift exclusively in Ellen White for the guidance of the Sabbatarian Adventist movement and became a strong apologist for her ministry.24

During 1857-1858, a period of national economic recession, the road back to health for Andrews was slow and arduous as the movement’s leading theological exponent gave himself to establishing his farm, starting a family and undertaking such part-time ministerial work as his health would allow. He continued as a corresponding editor for the Review but wrote little. At the time of his migration west he had published a study seeking to establish the biblical teaching on the beginning and ending time for Sabbath observance. His study demonstrated that in Scripture, Sabbath was observed from sunset on Friday to sunset on Saturday.25 This proved exceptionally helpful in preserving unity in the young church. But for two years afterwards his pen was still until his illness was cured and he was once again strong enough to begin researching and writing on the doctrine of the Sabbath.26

Return to Fulltime Ministry in New York (1859-1865)

As health returned Andrews slowly ventured beyond Waukon and again widened his sphere of influence. In early 1859, en route to some East Coast libraries to pursue further Sabbath research, he visited Battle Creek and led out in a study of biblical principles of financial support for ministry. This led to the adoption of a new approach to ministerial support called “Systematic Benevolence” based primarily on New Testament texts. At this time he understood tithing to be a requirement of the Old Testament ceremonial law and not binding on Christians. The new systematic approach, adopted widely by the church, eased the uncertain financial plight of traveling ministers and slowly strengthened church finances.27 By the middle of 1859 Andrews had completed his initial survey of the history of the Sabbath and published a four-part article series on the subject in the Review. Later in the year the material was published as a well-received ninety-five page booklet.28 The text would be expanded and refined over the next fifteen years to become Andrews’ magnum opus.

Returning health also brought to Andrews a deepening sense of duty to return to full-time ministry. In mid-1859 he became involved in evangelistic programs in Michigan and Massachusetts, which kept him from his Waukon home for more than seven months. The following year he engaged in itinerant evangelism in the east for a further ten months, again leaving his family in the care of his parents and in-laws. The outbreak of the Civil War in April 1861, soon complicated developments for the growing church located as it was in the northern and mid-western states. War fever disrupted evangelism and exerted pressure on the movement’s finances and personnel and heightened Adventists’ sense of the imminence of the Advent. Throughout 1862 Andrews experienced growing tension between the claims of farm and family and the call to full-time ministry, aggravated by further misunderstanding with the Whites who became more critical of Andrews’ relatives among the Waukon group.29 Finally in February 1863 Andrews determined to let his Waukon farm go and moved Angeline and his two children, Charles and Mary, to the east to join him in upstate New York where a fully paid regional ministerial role was assured. The family, after some uncertainty and further conflict with James White over location, finally settled in Rochester. White wanted Andrews in Battle Creek. Andrews argued that Rochester would give him much better access to university libraries for his Sabbath research.30

As Andrews moved back into full-time ministry, the expanding movement felt more acutely the stresses caused by lack of any formal organizational structure. Economic disruptions and the growth of the business had increased the financial stress on James White, who held in his own name ownership of and therefore responsibility for the Review and Herald publishing company and its complex financial affairs. White began to agitate for personal relief from the pressure and issued an ultimatum that he would withdraw from responsibility if nothing was done.31 The ultimatum highlighted the need for a formal organizational structure both for the publishing endeavor and for the purpose of integrating and coordinating the rapidly proliferating congregations.

Andrews found himself caught up in a major conflict that soon broke out between leaders both over whether such a structure was really needed and, if so, what form it should take. White declined to put up a formal proposal but simply argued that organization was needed. In an endeavor to find common ground Andrews proposed the convening of a conference.32 The influential R. F. Cottrell, one of the official “corresponding” editors of the Review, did not favor a strongly centralized structure but argued for a loose congregational model like the Baptists. John Andrews favored a legal association for the holding of the publishing company but was apprehensive about a central organizational structure for the congregations if, as a spiritual entity, it became “a church incorporated by law” and therefore tied to the state. He argued that some sort of umbrella association would be better but he did not think that the structure should take a form like the “iron wheel of Methodism” which he saw as rigid, dominating and restrictive of conscience. White took offense that Andrews was not more actively supportive of the urgency of the need for organization and as the conflict worsened, White accused Andrews publicly of “cowardly silence.”33 Relationships between White and Andrews became tense as the conflict over organization broadened. It took some time for ideas in the church to clarify and for the Michigan state legislature to enact the kind of legislation that would eventually accommodate the church-state sensitivities of groups like the Adventists.

At the General Conference session of 1860, John Andrews, as the second most influential voice in the denomination supported James White when a name for the denomination was chosen and the Review and Herald Publishing Association was established.34 For family reasons he was not able to participate in the follow-up 1861 meetings when the first local conference was organized for Michigan, an absence that led to serious further misunderstanding with the Whites. However, he was actively involved in implementation of the new conference arrangements in other states such as Minnesota and New York and at the local church level.35 Andrews was also closely involved in 1863 when the General Conference was organized. In this development he took a leading role not only in arguing the case for such an organization, but in researching possible constitutions and in leading committees that worked their way through the details of the articles of association.36

As the need for more conscripts for Union forces in the Civil War became more acute during 1864, changes in the conscription law caused immense problems for the newly organized church. The new acts sharpened the double moral dilemma of bearing arms and preventing Sabbath observance. The cost of paying bounties to secure non-combatant privileges became unsustainable, threatening to bankrupt the church and force the abandonment of its mission.37 In August 1864, J. N. Andrews was appointed by the General Conference to present the documents making the church’s case for non-combatant status to the Provost Marshal in Washington, D.C. Church leaders were not only unsure about whether such a petition would be successful but were deeply ambivalent as to whether formalizing a relationship with the government was even the right thing to do. Andrews’ successful securing of recognition by government of the needs of the church marked the first formal interaction between the Seventh-day Adventist church and the United States government and burnished Andrews’ image as a leader who would represent the church well.38

Two months after Andrews returned from Washington, tragedy struck. On a visit to her husband as he conducted tent evangelistic meetings at Port Byron in upstate New York, Angeline, in an advanced state of pregnancy, suffered from an attack of malaria. A few days later Angeline almost died as she gave birth to a premature baby daughter who did not survive.39 The trauma and loss sobered both husband and wife but could not keep Andrews from his summer evangelism.

Post-Civil War Leadership (1865-1870)

At the first General Conference session following the conclusion of the Civil War, James White was appointed president and John Andrews was appointed as a member of the powerful three-member executive committee. His pastoral assignment, however, was as a “missionary” to the Northeast and for the larger part of the next two years he gave his energies to evangelism in Maine, Vermont, Massachusetts and other locations in the “Eastern Mission.”40 He found that changed social circumstances following the war brought a new class of audience to his meetings and required the implementation of new evangelistic strategies. No longer did short two or three week campaigns seem to be effective. The new audiences required a much longer program of meetings and more basic Christian teaching before the distinctive Adventist doctrines could be introduced. Andrews and his various assistants, including Dudley M. Canright and Merritt E. Cornell, found themselves pioneering the new evangelistic methods and needing to stay longer in a location, laboring to establish a church. This was particularly true at Norridgewock in Maine.41 It was the beginning of the need in Adventism for a settled pastorate that gradually replaced the itinerant circuit evangelist.

During the post-Civil war period Andrews felt the need to write much more extensively on the doctrine of the non-immortality of the soul. The horrendous loss of life during the war impacted families in every community and questions on life after death and the state of the dead were not just idly theoretical but deeply personal to traumatized families everywhere. Andrews wrote several extended pamphlets such as Thoughts for the Candid (1865), Samuel and the Witch of Endor (1866), Departing and Being With Christ (nd), and The Wicked Dead: Are They Now Being Punished? (1865), as well as many magazine articles.42 While didactic in nature his writing on this topic also reflected a deep pastoral concern. Like his fellow Advent believers, John Andrews understood the nature of humanity to be such that the human soul was not naturally immortal and this meant that a state of uncomprehending unconsciousness prevailed during the time between bodily death and resurrection. Andrews believed that the doctrine integrated much more logically and consistently with the doctrines of the Advent, resurrection, millennium and final judgment. The central idea in the doctrine is today sometimes called Christian mortalism, or more pejoratively “soul-sleep” or “annihilationism.” These terms would figure more prominently in the more technical debates Andrews would occasionally have on the subject with other ministers such as Seventh Day Baptist scholar Jonathan Allen from Alfred University at Alfred Center in 1863 and again in 1869 with N. V. Hull, the editor of the Sabbath Recorder.43

The demands of evangelism in the northeast were so pressing on Andrews in September 1866 that he was unable even to return home for the funeral when his fifteen-month-old daughter Carrie died of dysentery. The family had to rely on brother-in-law Uriah Smith to conduct the sad funeral.44

In August 1865, James White suffered a stroke brought on by the accumulated stresses of chronic overwork, interpersonal conflict generated by his autocratic leadership style, a weak digestive system and poor dietary habits. White, elected president of the General Conference just three months before, had just returned to Battle Creek after a series of highly stressful meetings in Iowa at which he had tried to avert schism that threatened over the issue of non-combatancy versus pacifism and felt badly betrayed by former colleagues.45 The stroke left White partly paralyzed, but it also greatly complicated Andrews’ life.

While White’s speech and movement gradually returned after the stroke, it was clear that the damage to his nervous system had been severe. Excessive agitation, erratic emotional behavior, and general distress made him dysfunctional in any executive capacity. When further recovery did not occur, James and Ellen visited Dr. Caleb Jackson’s “Our Home on the Hillside,” a water cure retreat at Dansville not far from Rochester. The treatment was unsuccessful and a worried Ellen took James back to Battle Creek and then, in some distress, to a farm they had purchased earlier at Greenville, Michigan about 40 miles to the north. She would try her own remedies. In the meantime John Andrews and John Loughborough, president of the Michigan Conference at the time, had to begin to discretely fill the gap and take care of decision-making for the church.46

Despite White’s debilitating illness, delegates at the May 1866 General Conference session, out of a sense of loyalty and as a statement of faith, re-elected him as president although replacement personnel were brought in to take over the management of the publishing house for him. Increasingly as 1866 progressed, White’s erratic behavior and lack of social appropriateness grew worse and John Andrews was called several times to Battle Creek to moderate disputes and to begin acting unofficially as de facto president.47 Even as he endeavored to keep his northeast mission going, Andrews’ voice increasingly became the leadership voice in the Review and he became the unofficial public advocate for the new programs that had been launched. It was a difficult, sensitive role for Andrews because White was still aware of his official role and over time through 1867 he very slowly moved back into preaching. Andrews and others of White’s colleagues were in a quandary at the time for they feared he might never fully recover.

Health problems also caught up with numerous other denominational leaders at this time which prompted the church to begin a health institute of its own in Battle Creek modeled on Dr. Jackson’s Dansville program but without the social entertainments. A new “health reform” program promoting vegetarianism and natural remedies was also launched in the church with enthusiastic endorsement from Ellen White’s visions.

John Andrews played a significant formative role in helping introduce the new health reform ideas to the Adventist community during the early 1860s. His family in Waukon had been successfully experimenting with hydrotherapy treatments during 1862 and 1863 and from his work in New York Andrews had become familiar with the Dansville water cure program and Caleb Jackson’s literature.48 In early 1864 he had sent his six-year-old son Charles to Dansville with a severely lame leg. Over three months Charles had responded well to the treatments and returned home cured. During 1863 Andrews also became active in encouraging Adventists in his circle to subscribe to Dr. Jackson’s health reform journal, Laws of Life. Andrews had earned a promotional edition of Dr. Russell Trall’s Hydropathic Encyclopedia for his efforts.49 His own example of recovered health and his enthusiastic endorsement of “hygienic” living contributed to a framework of acceptance within the movement, which Ellen White would do much to encourage. She would provide a theological and spiritual rationale so that healthful living became integrated into official Adventist doctrine.50

At the General Conference session of 1867 it was clear to delegates that James White was not well enough to carry executive responsibility and John Andrews was elected president.51 If Andrews had been de facto president previously, now he became president formally although in reality he was still only a caretaker president. James might not have been able to take executive leadership but with his autocratic personality and determined entrepreneurial spirit he still had very firm views on where the church ought to be putting its energies and on how things ought to be done. He was unable to let go of the reigns of leadership. Andrews spent much of his year living with the Whites at their Greenville farm and travelling with them around the churches and to camp meetings in a team ministry. It was difficult for him to work so closely with James during this period of slow health recovery when the normal emotional swings of James’ manic-depressive temperament were exacerbated, but Andrews had learned to adapt with a submissive spirit and this enabled him to cope with the situation.

In 1868 the General Conference session elected Andrews to a second term as president when it became clear that White needed further time to heal. This time, however, White was added back on to the executive committee. Initiatives introduced by Andrews to this session included the opening of evangelistic work for the first time in California. Adventism under the Andrews-White partnership was expanding its horizons. The role ambiguity, however, clearly made things difficult for Andrews as White became more aggressive in taking back the reins and became more assertive in telling Andrews what he should be doing and how and when.52 Faced with the overpowering drive of his colleague, who subjected him to frequent criticism, sometimes quite publicly, Andrews slowly lost confidence in himself and in his own decision-making ability. Previously, in 1862, in order to survive in the relationship, Andrews found himself reasoning that White filled an “apostle”-type role in Adventism and he pro-actively adapted to this concept. This made it easier for Andrews to accept the harsh criticism and it provided a basis for leaving all the difficult decision-making to White and simply do what he was told.53 Now he found himself doing the same again and others of White’s closest colleagues, such as J. H. Waggoner, Uriah Smith and G. I Butler would eventually take a similar approach. Andrews realized that it was not a healthy state of affairs for himself or for the young church.

At the end of his second term as president of the General Conference, in mid-1869, Andrews was appointed as president of the New York Conference for a two-year term.54 Duties, however, initially detained him in Battle Creek where tensions had reached a fever pitch, with many in the congregation being outspokenly critical of the Whites over the matter of dress reform and the Whites’ custom of “plain speaking” about backsliding and lack of consecration to the cause. This time, Andrews not only submitted to their criticism for the good of the cause, but found himself defending James and Ellen White.

James White had also been publicly critical of business decisions taken by the interim president of the publishing house, Jotham Aldrich, during the time of Andrews’ early General Conference presidency.55 This had contributed to sharp factionalism among the workers. Uriah Smith had stoutly defended Aldrich and had quarreled about it with James and Ellen. After refusing to apologize or back down, he had been released from his editorship. As soon as he had completed his presidency therefore, Andrews found himself replacing Smith as editor of the Review, a position he held for a period of nine months until Smith was reconciled with the Whites and resumed his duties once again.56

Under the oversight of Andrews during 1869 the church paper took on a more intense exhortatory and revivalist focus supplemented by expository and exegetical articles. Andrews’ editorials set the tone. Each week he had a major exhortatory piece and often short, supplementary pieces reflecting on passages of scripture that he considered problematic or especially applicable to the times. The overriding theme was exhortation to faithful living set in the context of the approaching judgment. In early November he commenced a series on the order of events in the judgment that ran continuously for nineteen weeks until mid-March. He had not intended the series to run so long, he observed apologetically near the end, but once he got going he had “been led to speak more fully than he designed.”57

During this particularly difficult period of church development, John Andrews, in addition to carrying the editorship of the Review, was requested to conduct a church trial at Battle Creek with the assistance of school master G. H. Bell and Review corresponding editor, J. H. Waggoner. John Kellogg kept the trial records. Each member of the congregation was investigated and interviewed and eventually ninety-seven percent of the four hundred members were disciplined by being disfellowshipped. Individuals were later re-admitted after suitable confessions and upon demonstrating other evidence of good faith. The committee of three felt they were defending the ministry of the Whites and doing what the church and the Whites expected of them.

Before he finished his service as caretaker editor of the Review and Herald, Andrews, along with G. H. Bell and Uriah Smith, undertook the task of responding to attacks on James White’s business practices and the genuineness of Ellen White’s charismatic ministry from the Marion party in Iowa and other critical voices in New England. The 155-page publication they produced was used to defend the denomination for many years.58 Quarrels and disagreements did not dent the convictions of Andrews and his colleagues about the rightness of the Adventist cause.

Ministry and Research in the East (1870-1874)

In 1870, following his service as editor of the Review and Herald and his involvement in the church trial in Battle Creek, John Andrews returned to Rochester as the primary base of his ministry. During the next four years he stayed away from Michigan as much as possible, although councils, new institutional developments and recurring crises drew him back occasionally for extended stays. The early 1870s was an unsettled period of development for the Adventist church. Membership growth (22 percent in 1872) was matched by an even more rapid growth in the number of ministers.59 The increasing demands from various fields for pastoral care and guidance by leaders like Andrews added to the stress on leaders.

On a personal level, this period of Andrews’ ministry was also a troubled and unsettled time. Personal tragedy, uncomfortable, intractable conflict with his senior colleague and a worrying loss of confidence in himself darkened his life. The requirement for him to submit to the will and counsel of others eventually undermined his sense of self and hollowed out confidence in his own judgment. A strong sense of religious duty remained as the core motivation for his life and exerted relentless pressure along with an abiding sense of guilt at having never done enough. Yet, at the same time, this was also a period of great fulfillment for Andrews. During these years he was able to write extensively on the theme of the Sabbath from various perspectives. He authored a fifteen-part series of articles replying to Thomas Preble’s book advocating the first-day Sabbath and worked on the revision and enlargement of his History of the Sabbath.

In late 1870, he also published a 225-page volume of eleven sermons on the Sabbath that was designed for a popular audience. The eleven chapters outlined both the biblical and secular history of the Sabbath in reader-friendly summary form. The book paralleled the content of his larger, more scholarly book and it helped bridge the gap until the revision of longer volume could be completed.60

Andrews’ research and writing on the Sabbath history was traumatically interrupted when, on Saturday night, February 17, 1872, his wife Angeline suffered a paralytic stroke.61 In the month that followed, to the joy of her husband and children, Angeline made an almost complete recovery. But on March 19 she suffered a second much more severe stroke that took her life. Nine days previously she had celebrated her 48th birthday. A pastoral colleague from the New York Conference conducted a simple funeral service in the parlor of their home, and Angeline was buried beside the couple’s young daughter Carrie in the Mt. Hope cemetery. The family was devastated.62 Shortly afterwards Andrews placed his house on the market and moved with his two children to South Lancaster, Massachusetts, where he boarded with family friends and tried to assuage his grief in study.

By the end of 1872 Andrews completed work on a supplementary book manuscript on the Sabbath in the writings of the church fathers which he planned to publish separately. His approach in this supplementary volume was to cite the fathers themselves, using their “exact words,” rather than citing secondary sources. With this more “proper method,” he pointed out, the reader could have “the facts in full.”63 The new book appeared in early February with the lengthy title The Complete Testimony of the Fathers of the First Three Centuries Concerning the Sabbath and First-day. Resident editor Smith, in his lead editorial endorsement in the Review and Herald, observed that Andrews’ study was “a most triumphant showing” that the church fathers of the first three centuries of Christianity “did not regard Sunday as a divine institution.”64

Andrews’ expanded 512-page History of the Sabbath was finally published in February 1874 after years of painstaking work and was celebrated with press notices within the church and beyond.65 “Eld. Andrews has shown great patience, energy and perseverance as well as skill, learning and judgement . . . nor has he wanted candor or courage in the presentation of the facts,” wrote a reviewer in the Sabbath Recorder who was sure the book would “become a standard work.”66 Andrews’ study constituted the weightiest and most serious scholarly publication the church had yet produced and it established Andrews’ reputation as Adventism’s foremost champion of the seventh-day Sabbath.67

In 1887 a posthumous revised edition was issued. When, in 1891, European church leader Louis R. Conradi undertook the translation of the book into German, he substantially modified the work by using German original sources where Andrews had used English translations of the German sources. Conradi also introduced more contemporary German church history authorities in place of the English scholars Andrews had cited and he expanded the scope of the book by adding seven new chapters providing further detail about the Sabbath in Europe. In 1908, with the encouragement of the General Conference, Conradi undertook a further significant rewrite of major sections of the English version to better align the two editions. In 1912 a fourth revision expanded to 599 pages was issued acknowledging the joint authorship. The volume has had enduring influence.

Missionary to Europe (1874-1883)

On September 15, 1874 John Andrews left Boston for Neuchatel, Switzerland as the first official overseas missionary of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.68 He was accompanied by his sixteen-year-old son Charles and twelve-year-old daughter Mary, and a Swiss Sabbath-keeper, Ademar Vuilleumier. A group of about fifty adult Swiss Sabbath-keepers in a network of inter-related families, largely watchmakers by occupation, clustered in five or six mountain villages north of Neuchatel, had invited the church to send a missionary to them to be their minister and to use their community as a base for taking the church’s message of the Sabbath and the imminent Second Advent to Europe.

This network of Sabbath-keepers had formed seven years earlier as a result of the labors of Michael Czechowski, conducted under the auspices of the Advent Christian denomination based in Illinois. After he withdrew from the Swiss group due to conflict over finances, they had discovered the existence of the Seventh-day Adventist church in Battle Creek and asked for assistance. John Andrews had been the correspondent and over a three-year period, two young men from Switzerland were sent to study at Battle Creek. The objective in sending Andrews across to Europe was that he would be their pastor and educate their leaders and their young men for evangelistic outreach. At the time, the Adventist church had no policy framework for overseas mission work and no experience, although they had set aside a modest mission fund. Andrews was a willing and experienced scholar-evangelist who could read French although he could not speak it.

The expectation held both by Andrews and church leaders in Battle Creek was that within a very short time the mission would become self-supporting, as had all other new churches in new territories as the church expanded westward across America. This did not work out as anticipated. The launch of the mission to Europe coincided with the commencement of the longest and deepest financial recession America and Europe had experienced in the modern era. Before the decade was out, the church in Battle Creek would face a severe financial crisis which threatened the bankruptcy of its publishing houses. Extreme financial pressures, the conservative social circumstances of the European venture, the lack of an adequate system of financial support and a lack of experience in cross-cultural relations prevented the mission from quickly becoming self-sustaining and posed immense challenges for Andrews. A lack of understanding in Battle Creek that cultures in Europe were very different from American culture and that mission needed to be adapted to local circumstances greatly complicated Andrews’ work, causing deep personal anguish and anxiety. Frequently impoverished, his family suffered economic hardship that severely threatened their well-being. Persevering for nine years, he succeeded in establishing an enduring missionary publication that continues to the present and a church community that has helped serve as a base for further mission in the francophone world.

Andrews’ name had been considered by church leadership as the most suited for the anticipated mission to Europe for some time in the early 1870s. President George Butler reported in 1873 that there had already been “considerable said in the Review” publicly about Andrews going “to attend to the extension of missionary operations in Europe.”69 Not only had Andrews been the designated correspondent with the Swiss group, but he had also helped as an agent for the sale of some of their watches in the United States, and had personally mentored one of their young trainee ministers, Jakob Ertzenberger. The young Swiss-German had stayed in Andrews’ Rochester home in 1870 as he prepared for ordination.70 But leadership uncertainty had caused procrastination and delay in a final decision to send Andrews.

Tensions among the senior leadership group of James White, J. H. Waggoner, Uriah Smith, John Andrews and George Butler had been exacerbated by the increasing demands of a rapidly expanding church, the uncertainties occasioned by James White’s seriously declining health and the increasing frequency of his severe mood cycles. White’s heavy-handed leadership style accompanied by an increasing paranoia led to misinterpretation of his colleagues. White felt threatened while his colleagues felt intimidated. A struggle over White’s role as the ailing senior leader came to a head in 1873 at a hastily called General Conference session. The conflict resolved itself with the adoption of a policy statement on leadership framed by George Butler that set forth James White’s role as a “Counselor” though it was modeled on the concept of an “apostle.” This gave him a spiritual and organizational authority with which the others in the leadership group would comply without criticism or objection.71

In the process of achieving resolution of the tensions at the 1873 session John Andrews endured harsh criticism over well-intentioned actions as well as perceived failings. He felt obliged to make a humiliating public confession and state his willingness to be even more submissive than he felt he already was. As a result of the leadership crisis, action on the sending of Andrews on his overseas mission was postponed.72 Finally, at the conclusion of the following General Conference session in 1874, George Butler insisted that delegates make a decision on Andrews. They agreed to instruct the executive committee to make the decision to send him overseas.73 It was clumsy and awkward but the decision constituted a crossing of the Rubicon for the church. Adventist mission would now become world mission.

Andrews arrived in Neuchatel too late to prevent his new Swiss parishioners from ambitiously, and he thought unwisely, investing in a major new family business that for the next several years locked up finances that Andrews thought could have been used for mission activities. It also absorbed the energies and attention of key personnel whom Andrews was counting on to join him in fulltime mission. Andrews thus faced a greatly changed set of circumstances from what he had anticipated. Over the first few months, as he adjusted to the new situation, to culture shock and to the realization that he was an expatriate with very limited conversational language skills, he experimented with a newspaper advertising campaign to generate interest in the Sabbath. After rehabilitating his lapsed former trainee, Jacob Ertzenberger, he visited Sabbath-keeping groups in Germany and conducted pioneering evangelistic meetings that helped establish Adventism’s first German church. With the advice of his Swiss church members, a decision was taken to launch a French-language monthly journal modeled on James White’s Californian evangelistic paper, Signs of the Times. Both the new leader and the local believers considered this the best way of reaching across the many cultural, geographical, religious and social barriers that confronted them.

Birthed in July 1876 with Andrews as midwife and editor, Les Signes des Temps was intended to develop a readership and be supported by village and town-based evangelistic preaching programs in homes and hired halls. American-style tent evangelism was not possible. French-speaking Canadian Daniel Bourdeau joined the group in late 1875 and then in March 1876 Andrews moved his base of operations to the Swiss city of Basel in order to have access to printers. The city was thought ideal also because of its centrality. As a Swiss city it bordered both France and Germany. Here, for the next seven years, Andrews would commit himself to editing and publishing the magazine, engaging in evangelistic preaching in Switzerland and France, and seeking to establish congregations. Groups of Sabbath-keepers were founded even in distant places such as Naples, Italy and Alexandria, Egypt, as well as in Turkey, Russia and other nations where interest had been raised among readers of the magazine. Over time additional workers were sent from Battle Creek to Scandinavia and to England, and Andrews, where it was appropriate and possible, exercised general oversight over these workers as well. In practice, however, because of their different circumstances, they adapted the task of mission to the local circumstances as best they could. Despite numerous difficulties Andrews’ magazine survived and its circulation expanded until in 1883, the year of his death, it was printing 5,000 copies per month. The General Conference, after initial apprehension, eventually strongly affirmed and commended this evangelistic approach.74

In mid-1877, church leaders in America faced reduced church income resulting from the continuing “long depression” that began in 1873. When they received reports of limited baptismal results in Switzerland and news of Andrews’ recent illness and close call with death caused by impoverished living conditions, James White and his executive committee publicly criticized Andrews for not following the “American Model” in pursuing his foreign mission. They argued that the mission would become self-sustaining more quickly if this had been done. Andrews’ vigorously defended his approach and pointed out that mission had to adjust to local circumstances. He also requested that reimbursements for expense be more prompt and predictable and that he be paid a regular salary that would enable him to take care of his living expenses. The request for a salary was denied and due to James White’s increasing ill-health and dysfunction, the reimbursement of expenses continued in an untimely and erratic fashion. Andrews’ explanation that it was difficult to gain a hearing for an American religion in Europe was not understood and the continuing financial recession on both sides of the Atlantic added tension between the leaders. The criticism and lack of confidence in his leadership hurt Andrews badly. Increasingly ill-health began to plague his family.

Andrews was summoned back to Battle Creek in early September 1878 to attend the upcoming General Conference session. It was a fortuitous invitation for his sixteen-year old daughter had contracted tuberculosis. She did not recover, despite the best of care, and died in the Battle Creek Sanitarium on November 27. Mary had developed as an invaluable editorial assistant and proofreader for the magazine and as an emotional support for her father. He was shattered by the loss, staying on in the United States for a further five months trying to regain his own health. During this time of recovery he travelled to New England visiting family and church members and raising money for his European mission.

Because James White, due to a quarrel with colleagues, refused to attend the official opening of the huge new Battle Creek Dime Tabernacle on April 29, 1879, Andrews, as the most senior and respected leader in the denomination other than White, gave the dedication address. The seating capacity of 3,000 was an indication of the growth of the church, not just in Battle Creek but nationwide and internationally as well.

Andrews returned to Europe at the end of May 1879 with determination and hope that his health was improving. Ellen White had urged him to remarry before returning but his loyalty to the memory of Angeline, whom he had so often neglected in the cause of duty, made the prospect of remarriage seem impossible. During his last four years in Europe he assisted for a time in the British Mission, introduced innovations in Les Signes des Temps and worked to expand its circulation. Church membership continued to grow steadily but slowly as did the magazine’s subscription lists. The onset of consumption, which he had contracted from Mary in 1878 but which was not formally diagnosed until he consulted physicians in Southampton in September 1880, increasingly diminished his energies, confining him to home and sometimes to bed. With increased determination he gave himself to the editing of the periodical and to the training of a Swiss associate whom he saw as having the potential to continue the work after him.75 With exceptional effort and dedication Andrews continued his editorship of the magazine until his death on October 21, 1883.

Battle Creek leaders planned various audits after the first public criticism of Andrews’ mission strategy in 1877 but only one was eventually formally conducted. In mid-1882 Stephen N. Haskell, a member of the General Conference executive committee, accompanied by an experienced layman, William Gardner, undertook a five-month study trip through seven different countries, making a detailed assessment of Andrews’ mission strategy, his use of resources, the needs of the field, the attitudes of his colleagues and the distinctive challenges of mission in Europe.76 The visit opened Haskell’s eyes, persuading him of the validity of Andrews’ oft-repeated claim that Europe was different from America and that it warranted an approach to mission adapted specifically to its needs.77 “But few in America have been able to realize the difficulties under which those labor who go to Europe from this country,” Haskell noted for Review readers.78

Haskell’s summative report, shared with and endorsed by the General Conference Executive Committee and published in a special Review Supplement at the time of the 1883 General Conference, exonerated Andrews.79 It vindicated his decisions, his use of resources, lamented the limited support the church had provided and the difficulties created, and sought to correct the misunderstandings created by the criticism.


John Nevins Andrews has been called the “intellectual giant” of early Adventism, and the “foremost Adventist intellectual of the 19th Century.”80 He was a pioneer scholar-evangelist who helped shape the church profoundly in manifold ways. He helped shape its early theology and prophetic understanding through his preaching and writing as a Melanchthon to the early James White. His early apologetic writing on doctrinal and prophetic understanding helped establish Adventist self-identity over against first-day Adventists, a significant contribution Uriah Smith referenced in the obituary he wrote for his brother-in-law. He credited Andrews with being “especially instrumental in bringing out light upon the subjects of the Sanctuary, the United States in Prophecy and the Messages of Revelation 14.”81

Andrews’ apologetic but rigorous scholarly work on the history of the Sabbath gave the church strong confidence in its teaching on the Sabbath as it moved into the wider world and into more educated strata of society. His constant support and validation of the work of Ellen White and his affirmation of her distinctive prophetic charisma, both through his published writings and by the spoken word, helped the church remain united and confident in her leadership. His leadership of the Review and Herald and of the General Conference at times of crisis helped stabilize the church, enabling it to weather its way through times that might have caused it to fragment. His ground-breaking service in mission in Europe helped shape and establish the future of Adventist work across national and cultural boundaries. As he learned how to adapt to local circumstance in the cause of mission, he helped the church to learn as well.

It has sometimes been difficult for students of Adventist history to feel comfortable making an assessment of the contributions made to the church through the life and work of John Nevins Andrews. The effectiveness of his mission is debated. Some scholars have been inclined to regard Andrews’ mission to Europe as a failure on the basis of James White’s 1877 criticism, while others have noted the strength of Andrews’ defense of his strategy and the General Conference’s 1883 vindication of his work.82 Complicating the task is the fact that the many Ellen G. White letters of correction and rebuke, sent as private cautions and testimonies to Andrews, are now public. Even in his own day they were often circulated around the other leaders. These communications have shaped perceptions and challenged assessments.83

The letters from Ellen White assist in providing helpful insights into Andrews’ life and philosophy and it is clear that she was often critical of his philosophy of work and his scholarly temperament. To accept this perspective as a kind of final verdict or even as the dominant interpretive lens without a careful understanding of the “time and place” of these communications and without a careful study of John Andrews’ personal responses to the criticism is to misunderstand both the letters and the person to whom they were addressed. The correspondence needs to be sensitively interpreted, taking into account the distinctive temperament of Ellen White’s bi-polar husband, his autocratic leadership style and the conflicted attitudes that James White developed towards Andrews, his closest working loyal associate. Ellen White feared that her husband’s unreasonable, harsh criticism of Andrews (and of two or three other colleagues) had irreparably intimidated them, destroying their self-confidence and their ability to think and act for themselves. Still, on many occasions, for the survivability of the Advent cause, Ellen White felt called to defend her husband in spite of his dominant leadership style that, while highly effective, was at the same time damaging. Submission was the only alternative for associates like Andrews. It is also necessary to consider the role of a defense of her husband’s posthumous reputation as a factor in Ellen White’s last negative interaction with Andrews in the highly critical letter sent to him on his deathbed.84

The long-running complexities of the relationship between the Andrews, Stevens and White families also need to be factored into interpretation of the correspondence between Ellen White and John Andrews. The relationship was characterized by misunderstandings, offenses given, long memories and carried grudges. A careful consideration of such context provides a more comprehensive and nuanced understanding of Andrews from the perspective of Ellen White and of the way this perspective has shaped the traditional assessment of the contribution made to the church through the life and ministry of John Nevins Andrews.

In 1960 the trustees of the Seventh-day Adventist flagship university in Berrien Springs, Michigan renamed the institution Andrews University in tribute to the life and labor of John Nevins Andrews. A bronze statue of Andrews and his children, “Legacy of Leadership,” created by English-born artist Allan Collins in 1998, occupies a central place on the campus and commemorates the commitment Andrews and his family made to Adventist mission.


Allen, Stephen and W. H. Pilbury. History of Methodism I Maine, 1793-1886. (np. nd)

Andrews, Angeline. Diary, October, 1859 - January, 1865. Loma Linda University Heritage Research Center.

Andrews, J. N. and G. H. Bell, and U. Smith. Defense of Eld. James White and Wife: Battle Creek Church to the Churches and Brethren Scattered Abroad: Battle Creek, MI: Steam Press, 1870.

Andrews, J. N. History of the Sabbath and First Day of the Week; showing the manner in which the Sabbath has been supplanted by the heathen festival of the sun, 1859.

Andrews, J. N. History of the Sabbath and the First Day of the Week. Battle Creek, MI: ARH, 1873.

Andrews, J. N. Sermons on the Sabbath and Law: An Outline of the Biblical and Secular History of the Sabbath. Battle Creek, Steam Press, 1870.

Andrews, J. N. The 2300 Days and the Sanctuary. Rochester, N.Y.: Advent Review Office, [1854].

Andrews, Miriam. “Genealogy of My Branch of the Andrews Family in New England,” 1964. CAR.

Balharrie, Gordon. “A Study of the Contribution Made to the Seventh-day Adventist Church by John Nevins Andrews.” MA Thesis, Andrews University, 1949.

Baumgartner, Erich. “Charisma and Contextualization: Leadership Lessons from the Emerging Adventist Church in Central Europe, 1864-1914.” In Parochialism, Pluralism, and Contextualization: Challenges to Adventist Mission in Europe (19th-21st Centuries), edited by David J. B. Trim and Daniel Heinz. Frankfurt: Peter Lang, 2010.

Black, Persis Sibley Andrews. Diary, 1842 – 1864. Maine Historical Society, Portland Maine.

Burton, Kevin. “An Adventist Gentleman in Battle Creek: The Leadership of Jotham M. Aldrich. 1866-1868.” Journal of Asia Adventist Seminary 16, no. 2 (2013): 127-152.

Burton, Kevin. “Centralized for Protection: George I. Butler and his Philosophy of One-person Leadership.” MA Thesis, Andrews University.

Burton, Kevin. “Apocalypticism, Patriotism, and a Fighting ‘Peace’ Church: Seventh-Day Adventist Combatant Soldiers and the Church’s Political Rhetoric During The Civil War.” A paper presented at the American Society for Church History, Berkeley, California, April 7, 2017: 27-29.

Burton, Kevin. “Situating Views on Military Service: Seventh-day Adventist Soldiers and the Church’s Political Rhetoric during the Civil War.” Paper presented at Association of Seventh-day Adventist Historians Conference, Washington DC: January 8, 2018.

Campbell, Michael W. “Andrews, John Nevins (1829-1883) and Angeline (Stevens) 1824-1872).” In Ellen G. White Encyclopedia, edited by Denis Fortin and Jerry Moon. Hagerstown, MD: ARH, 2013.

Crawford, Marian. “Letter from a Veteran Worker.The Watchman, April 25, 1905.

Graham, Roy E. “J. N. Andrews and Dedication.” Paper presented at the J. N. Andrews sesquicentennial celebrations, Andrews University, July 20-21, 1979. CAR

Heinz, Daniel. “The Development of Seventh-day Adventist Missionary dynamic in Europe: Assessing the Contributions of Michael B. Czechowski, John N. Andrews, and Ludwig R. Conradi.” In Parochialism, Pluralism, and Contextualization: Challenges to Adventist Mission in Europe (19th-21st Centuries), edited by David J. B. Trim and Daniel Heinz. Frankfurt: Peter Lang, 2010.

Lapham, William Berry. History of Woodstock, Maine with Family Sketches, (Portland, Stephen Berry, 1882

Leonard, Harry, editor. John Nevins Andrews: The Man and the Mission. Berrien Springs, MI: Andrews University Press, 1984.

Morgan, Douglas. “Civil War.” In Ellen G. White Encyclopedia, edited by Denis Fortin and Jerry Moon. Hagerstown, MD: ARH, 2013.

Noll, Mark. America’s God. New York: Oxford University Press, 2002.

Oosterval, Gottfried. “The Legacy of J. N. Andrews.” Paper presented at the J. N. Andrews sesquicentennial celebrations, Andrews University, July 20-21, 1979. CAR

Poland Spring Centennial: A Souvenir 1795-1895. South Poland, ME: Hiram Ricker & Son, 1895. Ricker Memorial Library, Poland Corner, Maine. Accessed June 8, 2018.

Robinson, Virgil E. John Nevins Andrews: Flame for the Lord. Washington, DC: 1961.

Smith, Harriet N. Diary, 1869-1870. CAR.

Smith, U. “The Death of Eld. Andrews.” ARH, October 30, 1883

Smoot, Joseph G. “J.N. Andrews and the Bible.” Paper presented at the J. N. Andrews sesquicentennial celebrations, Andrews University, July 20-21, 1979. CAR.

Valentine, Gilbert M. J. N. Andrews: Mission Pioneer, Evangelist, and Thought Leader. Nampa, ID: Pacific Press, 2019.

Valentine, Gilbert. “J. N. Andrews and the “Success” of the European Mission.” In Contours of European Adventism: Issues in the History of the Denomination on the Old Continent, eds Stefan Hoschele and Chigemezi N. Wogu. Friedensau, Germany: Institute of Adventist Studies, 2020, pages 27-57.

Vuilleumier, Jean. Diary, 1878-1881, 1883, 1885-1889, 1894. Archives Historiques de l’Adventisme Francophone, Campus Adventiste du Saleve 33, Chemin du Perouzet 74160 Collonges-sous-Saleve, France.

White, James. “Elder J. N. Andrews.” The Health Reformer, April 1877 and May, 1877.

A substantial collection of correspondence between John Andrews and Ellen and James White is held at the Ellen White Estate, Silver Spring, MD. Other correspondence and manuscript materials are held in the Center for Adventist Research at Andrews University, Berrien Springs, MI.


  1. A helpful annotated genealogical summary of the Andrews family that includes the Edward Andrews branch has been assembled by Miriam Andrews of Gorham, Maine, a descendant of John Andrews’ uncle Alfred, under the title “Genealogy of My Branch of the Andrews Family in New England.” See also Miriam Andrews to Dr. J. N. Andrews,” November 7 and December 14, 1964. The documents are held in the Center for Adventist Research (CAR) Andrews University, Berrien Springs, MI.

  2. Poland Spring Centennial Souvenir 1795-1895, 14. Ricker Memorial Library, Poland Corner, Maine. Sarah Pottle’s maternal grandparents, the Ricker family, established a famous hotel on the site of Poland Springs and developed a huge bottled water industry at the site, see accessed June 8, 2018.

  3. Persis Sibley Andrews Black Diary (PSABD), October 8, November 9, 1843, Maine Historical Society, Portland Maine.

  4. James White, “John Nevins Andrews,” The Health Reformer, April 1877, 98.

  5. Ibid.

  6. Stephen Allen and W. H. Pilbury, History of Methodism in Maine, 1793-1886, (Augusta, ME: Charles E. Nash, 1887) 122. His pastor, Elder Brown later served the Millerite congregation at Beethoven Hall in Portland, Maine.

  7. William Berry Lapham, History of Woodstock, Maine with Family Sketches (Portland: Stephen Berry, 1882), 82-85.

  8. Marian Crawford, “Letter from a Veteran Worker,” Southern Watchman, April 25, 1905, 278; Marian Crawford to Ellen G. White, October 9, 1908, Ellen G. White Estate, Silver Spring, MD (EGWE).

  9. M. S. Crawford, “Extracts from Letter of M S Crawford to W. C. White” attached at the end of her letter to Ellen G. White, dated October 9, 1908, DF 439, EGWE; “A. C. Bourdeau Memoir,” CAR. Bourdeau worked with Andrews in Europe and the memoir which recalls conversations with Andrews is undated but seems to have been written towards the end of his life.

  10. PSABD, February 28, March 11, April. 22, 1846.

  11. Crawford, “Letter from a Veteran Worker.”

  12. “Letter from J. N. Andrews,” Present Truth, October 16, 1849, 29.

  13. The testimony report is cited by Arthur L. White in “Tongues in Early SDA History,” ARH, March 15, 1973, 5. See also Hiram Edson’s account in Present Truth, December 1849, 36.

  14. Ellen G. White, Spiritual Gifts II (Battle Creek MI: James White, 1860), 117.

  15. Ellen G. White to Reuben and Belinda Loveland, November. 1, 1850; Ellen G. White to “The Church in Brother Leonard Hastings House,” November 7, 1850. EGWE. James White, “The Paper,” ARH, March 1851, 53.

  16. J. N. Andrews, “Thoughts on the Sabbath,” ARH, December 1850, 10.

  17. J. N. Andrews, The 2300 Days and the Sanctuary (Rochester, N.Y.: Advent Review Office, [1854]).

  18. “Letters to O. R. L. Crozier,” ARH, July 8, 1852, 37.

  19. A good discussion of the philosophical undergirding of John Andrews’ era is found in Mark Noll, America’s God (New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 2002), 113

  20. See for example J. N. Andrews, “The Sabbath,” ARH, June 10, 1852.

  21. James White, “The Eastern Tour” ARH, November 15, 1853, 148.

  22. James White to “Dear Brother,” February. 9, 1855. EGWE. James White, “The Office,” ARH, February. 20, 1855, 182. J. N. Andrews, “My Experience in Health Reform. – No 2,” The Health Reformer, January 1872, 169-170.

  23. Ellen G. White to J. N. Andrews August 26, 1855, EGWE.

  24. Edward Andrews to “My Dear Children” March 1, 1863; G. I Butler to J. N. Andrews, 1863, CAR.

  25. J. N. Andrews, “Time of the Sabbath,” ARH, December 4, 1855, 78. See also James White, “Time to Commence the Sabbath,” ARH, February 25, 1868, 168.

  26. J. N. Andrews, “Institution of the Sabbath,” ARH, January. 6, 1859, 52.

  27. “Systematic Benevolence,” ARH, February 3, 1859, 84; “The Conference,” ARH, June 5, 1859, 20-23.

  28. J. N. Andrews, “History of the Sabbath and First Day of the Week,” ARH, July 14, 21, 28; August. 4, 1859. The pamphlet carried the lengthy title, History of the Sabbath and First Day of the Week; showing the manner in which the Sabbath has been supplanted by the heathen festival of the sun (1859).

  29. The stresses and joys of these years are narrated in a diary kept by Angeline Andrews (AAD) between October, 1859 and January, 1865. The diary is held at Loma Linda University Heritage Research Center (LLUHRC).

  30. John Byington, George Amadon and James White to J. N. Andrews November 15, 1864; J. N. Andrews to “Dear Brethren White, Byington & Amadon,” November. 16, 1864, EGWE; AAD, November 19, 29, 1864.

  31. James White, “Borrowed Money,” ARH, February 23, 1860, 108.

  32. J. N. Andrews, “The Review Office,” ARH, August 21, 1860, 108.

  33. James White, “Organization,” ARH, August 27, 1861, p. 100; Ellen G. White, “Slavery and the War,” Ibid, 100, 101. Twelve months later, despite Andrews’ submissive apology, White repeated the allegation in James White, “Organization,” ARH, September 30, 1862, 140.

  34. His hesitation before the final vote was over process not the name nor its necessity. “Business Proceedings,” ARH, October 9, 1860, 162; “Business Proceedings,” ARH, October, 23, 1860, 178.

  35. “Doings of the N, Y. Conference,” ARH, November 4, 1862, 182.

  36. “The Conference,” ARH, May 26, 1863, 204-206.

  37. Kevin Burton, “Situating Views on Military Service: Seventh-day Adventist Soldiers and the Church’s Political Rhetoric during the Civil War,” paper presented to Association of Seventh-day Adventist Historian’s Conference, Takoma Park, Maryland, January 8, 2018, 12.

  38. Ellen G. White to G. I. Butler and S. N. Haskell, August 12, 1886. EGWE; see also Douglas Morgan, “Civil War,” Ellen G. White Encyclopedia, eds Denis Fortin and Jerry Moon (Hagerstown, MD: ARH, 2013), 721.

  39. AAD, September 3, October 28, 1863, LLUHRC.

  40. “Missionary Labors,” ARH, May 30, 1865, 204.

  41. J. N. Andrews, “Labors in Maine,” ARH, October 31, 1865, 173.

  42. G. W. Amadon, “Devil’s Rampant,” ARH, October 17, 1865, 160. See also for example, “The Wicked Dead,” which was a 7 ½ column piece. ARH, March. 28, 1865, 129-131; 136.

  43. J. N. Andrews, “Tent Meeting in Alfred Centre, N. Y.,” ARH, August 18, 1863, 92; see also Sabbath Recorder, August 20, 1863, 31.

  44. “Obituary,” ARH, October 3, 1865, 143.

  45. Three months after his stroke, White placed much of the blame for his illness on the “terrible conflict” with W. H. Brinkerhoff of Iowa. “My Condition,” ARH, November 7, 1865, 180. Also see Kevin Burton, “Apocalypticism, Patriotism, and a Fighting ‘Peace’ Church: Seventh-Day Adventist Combatant Soldiers and the Church’s Political Rhetoric During The Civil War.” A paper presented at the American Society for Church History, Berkeley, California, April 7, 2017: 27-29.

  46. Ellen G. White to J. N. Andrews [undated but internal evidence clearly suggests 1866] (Ltr, 12, 1866) reflects on the sensitivity of whether to continue paying James a salary, EGWE-GC.

  47. Harriet Smith’s diary (HNSD) for this period gives some idea of the distress the White and related families endured at this time. See entries for November 16, 22, 26 and December 3, 11, 1866, CAR.

  48. Ronald Numbers suggests that the article on the hydropathic treatment of diphtheria published as a front page article in the Review of February 17, 1863 was brought to the attention of the Whites by John Andrews who went down with the disease himself in the diphtheria epidemic of early 1863 when he was preaching in western New York. Prophetess of Health: Ellen G. White and the Origins of Seventh-day Adventist Health Reform (Knoxville, TN: University of Tennessee Press, 1992), 288.

  49. AAD, July 12, 1864, LLUHRC.

  50. The Health Reformer, June 1877, 161; D. E. Robinson, The Story of Our Health Message: The Origin, Character, and Development of Health Education in the Seventh-day Adventist Church, 3rd ed (Nashville: Southern Publishing, 1965); Ronald L. Numbers, 88.

  51. “Business Proceedings,” ARH, May 27, 1867, 284.

  52. J. H. Waggoner, “An Explanation,” ARH, August. 4, 1868, 108.

  53. J. N. Andrews to J. White, February 2, 1862, CAR.

  54. “Camp-meetings in New York,” ARH, July 20, 1869, 28, 30, 32 and August 3, 1869, 48.

  55. Kevin Burton provides a carefully documented analysis of Aldrich in “An Adventist Gentleman in Battle Creek: The Leadership of Jotham M. Aldrich. 1866-1868,” Journal of Asia Adventist Seminary 16, No. 2 (2013): 127-152.

  56. John Andrews, “Explanatory,” ARH, June 15, 1869, 196.

  57. “The Articles on the Judgment,” ARH, March 8, 1870, 96.

  58. J.N. Andrews, G.H. Bell, and U. Smith, Defense of Eld. James White and Wife: Battle Creek Church to the Churches and Brethren Scattered Abroad (Battle Creek, MI: Steam Press, 1870).

  59. 1872 witnessed membership growth from 4,801 to 5,875, a 27% increase in ordained ministers (40 to 51) and an 80% increase in the number of licensed ministers (46 to 83), as reported in “The Conference,” ARH, March 25, 1873, 116.

  60. J. N. Andrews, Sermons on the Sabbath and Law: An Outline of the Biblical and Secular History of the Sabbath (Battle Creek, Steam Press, 1870); see also George A. Amadon Diary, January 31, 1870, CAR.

  61. “The Sickness of Sister Andrews,” ARH, March 5, 1872, 92.

  62. “Death of Sister Andrews,” ARH, April 16, 1872, 124.

  63. J. N. Andrews, “The Fathers on the Sabbath Question,” ARH, November 29, 1872, 188.

  64. “New and Important Work,” ARH, February 11, 1873, 72.

  65. “The Preparation of the Sabbath History,” ARH, December 2, 1873, 196; “History of the Sabbath,” Ibid., 200; “The First-Day Sabbath vs. the History of the Sabbath,” ARH, December 9, 1873, 204, 205.

  66. “History of the Sabbath,” ARH, January 27, 1874, 56, book review reprinted from Sabbath Recorder, December 3, 1873.

  67. “History of the Sabbath,” ARH, January 6, 1874, 32.

  68. J. N. Andrews, “Our Embarkation,” ARH, September 22, 1874, 112.

  69. “The General Conference,” ARH, November 4, 1873, 164.

  70. “Communication from Br. Ertzenberger,” ARH, July. 26, 1870, 45.

  71. Kevin Burton, “Centralized for Protection: George I Butler and his Philosophy of One-person Leadership” (MA Thesis, Andrews University, 2015), 55. Rather than posing his own view of leadership the document is an attempt to theorize about James White’s leadership as his colleagues actually experienced it. The policy proved unworkable and was modified and then abandoned a few years later.

  72. “The General Conference,” ARH, November 4, 1873, 164; J. N. Andrews to Ellen G. White, February 6, 1874, EGWE.

  73. The convoluted process reflected the uncertainty about where authority lay. “Proceedings of the Thirteenth Annual Meeting . . . ,” ARH, August 18, 1874, 75.

  74. S. N. Haskell, “What is Wanted in Europe,” ARH, July 18, 1882, 456. See also ARH Supplement, May 1, 1883, 3-4. For further support of this see Gilbert Valentine, “J. N. Andrews and the “Success” of the European Mission,” in Contours of European Adventism: Issues in the History of the Denomination on the Old Continent, eds Stefan Hoschele and Chigemezi N. Wogu (Friedensau, Germany: Institute of Adventist Studies, 2020), 43-46..

  75. Jean Vuilleumier who had worked with Andrews in 1879 and 1880 became his assistant in the last year of his editorship and records in his Diary (JVD) much detail from the closing months of Andrews’s life. The diary is held at the Archives Historiques de l’Adventisme Francophone, Campus Adventiste du Saleve 33, Chemin du Perouzet 74160 Collonges-sous-Saleve, France.

  76. G. I. Butler, “Eld. Haskell’s Trip to Europe,” ARH, May 16, 1882, 313.

  77. S. N. Haskell, “What is Wanted in Europe,” ARH, July 18, 1882, 456.

  78. S. N. Haskell, “Omens for Good,” ARH, January 2, 1883, 9.

  79. ARH Supplement, May 1, 1883, 3-4.

  80. Grady Smoot, “Andrews’ Role in Seventh-day Adventist History,” in John Nevins Andrews: The Man and the Mission, ed. Harry Leonard (Berrien Springs, MI: Andrews University Press, 1984) 10, 43.

  81. U. Smith, “The Death of Eld. Andrews,” ARH, October 30, 1883, 680.

  82. See for example Erich Baumgartner, “Charisma and Contextualization: Leadership Lessons from the Emerging Adventist Church in Central Europe, 1864-1914” in Parochialism, Pluralism, and Contextualization: Challenges to Adventist Mission in Europe (19th-21st Centuries), eds. David J. B. Trim and Daniel Heinz, (Frankfurt: Peter Lang, 2010), 67; Daniel Heinz, “The Development of Seventh-day Adventist Missionary dynamic in Europe: Assessing the Contributions of Michael B. Czechowski, John N. Andrews, and Ludwig R. Conradi,” Ibid, 55. A more nuanced and comprehensive account of the success is found in Gilbert Valentine, “J. N. Andrews and the ‘Success’ of the European Mission,” in Contours of European Adventism: Issues in the History of the Denomination on the Old Continent, eds Stefan Hoschele and Chigemezi N. Wogu (Friedensau, Germany: Institute of Adventist Studies, 2020), 27-57.

  83. Papers read at the J. N. Andrews sesquicentennial celebrations at Andrews University July 20-21, 1979 all illustrate sensitive attempts to find a positive but balanced assessment in the light of negative testimonies. See Roy E. Graham, “J. N. Andrews and Dedication;” Joseph G. Smoot, “J.N. Andrews and the Bible,” and Gottfried Ooesterval, “The Legacy of J. N. Andrews.” CAR.

  84. Ellen G. White to J. N. Andrews, June 9, 1883, EGWE. Ellen White had made several earlier attempts at writing the troubling letter.


Valentine, Gilbert M. "Andrews, John Nevins (1829–1883)." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. August 19, 2020. Accessed April 08, 2024.

Valentine, Gilbert M. "Andrews, John Nevins (1829–1883)." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. August 19, 2020. Date of access April 08, 2024,

Valentine, Gilbert M. (2020, August 19). Andrews, John Nevins (1829–1883). Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. Retrieved April 08, 2024,