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On October 22nd 1844, thousands of the religious followers of Reverend William Miller climbed to the tops of mountains all over New England, expecting to be lifted up into the sky at the stroke of midnight in a great heavenly Rapture. Reverend William Miller's failed Rapture of 1844 made him the laughing stock of all New England, and resulted in the breakup of his church. William Miller was a brilliant man who successfully deciphered the prophecies of the book of Daniel but was discredited due to a rare typographical error that occurred during the many transcriptions of our English bibles from the original Greek Septuagint text. William Miller was one of the most influential religious figures in all of American history, and even today Miller's revelations form the basis for most interpretations of the biblical book of Daniel.
Miller was born the son of a New England farmer in the northwestern Massachusetts hilltown of Pittsfield. When he was only four years old, his family relocated to Hampton, New York. Miller eventually married and settled in Poultney, Vermont where he became a member of the Deist church. The Deists were the first of the secular humanist churches, founding their beliefs in the natural world. Many Protestants were distrustful of the teachings of the Bible because they thought the texts had been infected with the pagan doctrines of the Catholic Church.
After serving in the War of 1812, Miller tried to find a deeper purpose in life, and decided to join the born again Christians of the Baptist Church. He began to study the Bible in great depth, and succeeded in deciphering the secret codes of the book of Daniel that he believed held the key to the timing of many prophetic events. Miller announced that he had determined the time of the return of the Lord to be about the year 1843. He began to speak on his controversial theory in local churches, and found many people very receptive to it. Soon Miller was invited to speak in churches all over New England, and he quickly developed a loyal following. When the year 1843 passed rather uneventfully, Miller was forced to recalculate his figures, and announced that the end of the world (marked by the end of the Catholic Church) would occur in the year 1845, and that the event would be preceeded by a Rapture of the Lord's followers up to Heaven on October 22, 1844 at exactly midnight.
And so on October 22, 1844, many loyal Millerites sold all their worldly goods and treked to the tops of mountains all over New England. Some were dressed in white Ascension Robes and others sat in metal washtubs, all patiently waiting to be Raptured up to Heaven at the stroke of midnight. When midnight passed with no Rapture occurring, the Millerites were forced to return to their homes in great humiliation, as townsfolk all over New England laughted and jeered at the many fools who'd fallen for Miller's great folly. After what eventually came to be known as "The Great Disappointment," Miller's church rapidly fell apart. But the church eventually reformed under a new name with a new leader named Ellen Gould White. The original Millerites (Saturday Sabbath Keepers) went down in history as just another example of the silly fanaticism of religion.
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