John Nevins Andrews
J. N. Andrews was born July 22, 1829, in Poland, Maine. He quit school at the age of 11 and was largely self-taught, apparently quite effectively. It is reported that later in life he was fluent in seven languages and could recite the New Testament by memory. His uncle Charles, a member of the U.S. Congress, offered to pay for his training as a lawyer so he could follow a political career. However, early in 1845, at age 15, after reading a tract written by T. M. Preble, John accepted the Sabbath--a decision that changed the direction of his life. He and Uriah Smith married sisters, Angeline and Harriet Stevens.
Andrews had a long and productive association both with the church and with James and Ellen White. His name first appeared in Adventist literature when, in October of 1849, at age 20, he wrote a letter to the editor of the Present Truth, James White. When the first Adventist press was set up in Rochester, New York, in 1852, he became one member of a publishing committee of three, at age 22. The other two members were Joseph Bates and James White. The next year Andrews was ordained to the Adventist ministry. By this time, 35 of his articles had been published in the Review. In 1855, at James White's request, he wrote a paper using Bible proofs, which settled sunset as the time for beginning the Sabbath. Ellen White had a vision that supported his conclusions. (See Testimonies for the Church, volume 1, page 116.)
Later that year, in poor health and discouraged, Andrews left the ministry and settled in Waukon, Iowa. James and Ellen White traveled there to persuade him to return, which he did. In 1858 he led out in a study of systematic benevolence, the forerunner of the church's tithing plan. In 1861 he published the first of several editions of History of the Sabbath. In 1864 he was sent to Washington, D.C., in a successful effort to secure noncombatancy status for Adventists during the Civil War. He was elected as the third president of the General Conference in 1867, following John Byington and James White. When the first Seventh-day Adventist camp meeting was held in Wright, Michigan, in 1868, he showed his personal side as he went around to the tents at the end of the day, asking: "Are you all comfortable for the night?"
While Andrews served as editor of the Review in 1869-70, he penned a 20-point article entitled "Our Use of the Visions of Sr. White," in which he clearly defined the relationship between the gifts of the Spirit and the Holy Scriptures. (See Review and Herald, February 15, 1870.)
Ellen White sometimes sent reproofs to Andrews, as she did in 1872 when he was delaying the publication of his next edition of History of the Sabbath. She told him that instead of trying to answer every objection, he should simplify his arguments. She urged him to develop all his powers equally. She later edited her letter to him, including it in Testimonies for the Church, volume 3, pages 32-39.
John's wife Angeline died of a stroke in 1872. Ellen White urged him to remarry, but when he went to Europe in 1874 as the first official Seventh-day Adventist missionary, he went as a widower with his teenage children, Charles and Mary. Ellen White wrote to church leaders in Europe: "We sent you the ablest man in our ranks" (Manuscript Releases, volume 5, page 436). Although he received frequent corrections from Ellen White, Andrews wrote often in support of her ministry and her visions. Always interested in writing and publishing, he established the Adventist press in Basel, Switzerland.
Andrews died of tuberculosis in 1883,
at the age of 54, while in Europe. He is buried in Basel, Switzerland.