"the wrath of Almighty God!" -- the last words of Uncle Tom's Cabin

William Miller -- Frontispiece to
Memoirs of William Miller, by
Sylvester Bliss (Boston: J. V. Himes, 1853)

The End of the World

In the late 1820s, based on his own readings of the Bible's prophetic books, William Miller arrived at the conviction that Jesus would return to the earth "about 1843." In the early 1830s he reluctantly decided that God wanted him to spread the news of the "advent near" to others. First in the rural areas of New York and New England, but by the end of the decade in the major cities of the East, he proved to steadily increasing audiences of Protestants from many denominations that the end of the world was almost at hand. By 1843, probably over one million people had attended the Millerites various camp meetings, and between 50,000 and 100,000 of these were persuaded to bring their earthly affairs to an end by October 22, 1844 -- the date ultimately announced as the day the saints would be translated to the New Jerusalem while the world perished in fire beneath them.

There were a number of other millenialist movements in America in the 1830s and 1840s, including the Shakers, the Perfectionists and the Mormons. But the Millerites most dramatically represent the period's widely shared belief in an immiment apocalypse.

Detail from Broadside
The Waller Barrett Collection
  • Excerpts from the Book of Daniel
      The Holy Bible, King James Version
  • Miller's Scene of the Last Day (ca. 1843)
  • Miller's The Signs of the Times
      Lecture 19 from Miller's Evidence from Scripture and History of the Second Coming of Christ, About the Year 1843 (1842)
  • Miller's Letter to Joshua V. Himes
      On the Cleansing of the Sanctuary (1842)
  • The New York Herald's Coverage   1843
  • Millerism & Anti-Slavery
      The Liberator's Response (1843)
  • Paulding's End of "The End of the World"
      Graham's Magazine   (March 1843)
  • Whittier's "Father Miller"
      Howitt's Journal   (9 October 1847)
  • Literary Millenialism
      Poe, Hawthorne, Thoreau, &c.

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