From Mass Moments: Millerites Await the End of the World ~ October 22, 1844

MassMoments reminds us today about the Millerites and the view that the end of the world was nigh. I’m struck by the comments attributed to Ralph Waldo Emerson and Reverend Theodore Parker when asked  about the coming end of days. The Millerites – nearly 100,000 of them – were so sure the end had come that they sold their worldly goods, gave away cherished treasures and accepted the inevitable while their fellow citizens were unaffected almost callous about the predicted  apocalypse. How were they treated when the dismal prophesy went wanting?

According to one story, a man accosted Ralph Waldo Emerson and the Reverend Theodore Parker on a Concord road and excitedly asked if they realized that the world was going to end that day. “Mr. Parker said: ‘It does not concern me, for I live in Boston.’ And Mr. Emerson said: ‘The end of the world does not affect me; I can get along without it.'”

On this day – October 22

…in 1844, tens of thousands of people in Massachusetts expected the world to come to an end. They were followers of William Miller, a man who claimed to know the date of Jesus’s second coming. Many “Millerites” sold all their possessions to prepare for the day when Christ would return to earth, gather them up to heaven, and purify the rest of the world in an all-consuming fire. As the date approached, a great comet blazed across the Massachusetts sky, and the number of believers grew. On October 22nd, the Millerites donned white robes and climbed mountains or trees to speed their ascension into heaven. When the prophecy failed, most abandoned Miller’s apocalyptical teachings and returned to their original churches.

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