Israel Dammon trial

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

The Israel Dammon trial was a court case which occurred in 1845. The protagonist, Israel Dammon (1811–1886) (also spelled Damman or Damon), was summoned for disturbing the peace during loud, fanatical worship in the farmhouse of James Atkinson, Jr., in Atkinson, Maine on February 15 of that year. Present were Christians from the Millerite Adventist tradition.

A transcript of the trial was rediscovered in the 1980s, revealing a fuller picture of the incident. Of interest to Seventh-day Adventists, two primary church founders James and Ellen G. White are mentioned in the transcript, although they were not under trial themselves and did not appear in court. Dorinda Baker, an alleged early Adventist prophet, was also present at the farmhouse.


On 15 February 1845, a group of Millerite Adventists led by Israel Dammon met for very lively, exuberant worship. Ellen White (then Ellen Harmon) was present, and was 17 years of age at the time. Israel Dammon was arrested that night for disturbing the peace, and later tried.[1][2][3][4][5] Ellen White described the incident in Spiritual Gifts vol. 2.[6] A local newspaper account of the trial which was published on 7 March 1845 in the Piscataguis Farmer of Dover in Piscataquis County, Maine, United States (now the Piscataquis Observer;[7] website) was rediscovered and republished in the 1980s.[8] It also mentions Ellen White (then Ellen Harmon):

There was a woman on the floor who lay on her back with a pillow under her head; she would occasionally arouse up and tell a vision which she said was revealed to her.[9]

The first major critic to use the Israel Dammon trial to undermine the prophetic authority of Ellen G. White was Miles Grant. In a debate he held with D. M. Canright in 1874 Grant brought up the fact that he had a letter from Dammon alleging "that he had been acquainted with the Whites when she had her first visions. At first he had confidence in them but then renounced them." Canright responded that he was personally acquainted with Dammon and that he was a leader of a band of fanatics who believed that the dead had arisen and gone up. "The visions condemned him for his fanaticism which caused him to turn against them." Later, after Canright apostatized, in his systematic gathering of criticisms against Ellen G. White he did not find Dammon's allegations credible enough to include in his later writings against her prophetic ministry.[10]

The Ellen G. White Estate wrote, "none of the witnesses in the record of Israel Dammon's trial allege any fanatical activity by 17-year-old Ellen Harmon." They do not believe her attendance represented an endorsement.[11]

One witness stated, "I never saw such confusion, not even in a drunken frolic."

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Schoepflin, Rennie B. (ed.); Jonathan M. Butler; Ronald Graybill; Frederick Hoyt (August 1987). "Scandal or Rite of Passage? Historians on the Dammon Trial" (PDF). Spectrum. Roseville, California: Adventist Forums. 17 (5): 37–50. ISSN 0890-0264. Retrieved 2008-08-11.CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list (link)
  2. ^ "Incident in Atkinson: The Arrest and Trial of Israel Dammon" Adventist Currents 3:1, 1988. Magazine issue reprint (PDF); article reprint (HTML) on a critical site
  3. ^ "Another Look at Israel Damman" by James R. Nix on the Ellen G. White Estate website (also in PDF format), from a "talk given during the Ellen G. White Summit held at Avondale College, Cooranbong, N.S.W., Australia, February 2–5, 2004"
  4. ^ See the section "Ellen G. White and Israel Dammon" of "Questions and Answers About Ellen G. White" by the White Estate
  5. ^ "The Arrest and Trial of Israel Dammon: Reality Versus Myth" on the critical website
  6. ^ Ellen White. Spiritual Gifts vol. 2, chapter 7, "Call to Travel", p40–42
  7. ^ The paper was renamed in 1948, according to the reprint, "History of Piscataquis County, Maine" from A Gazetteer of the State of Maine. Geo. J. Varney
  8. ^ Arthur Patrick says Dr Fred Hoyt "re-discovered it about 1983 and re-published it four years later (1987)." Patrick, Arthur (c. 1999). "Early Adventist worship, Ellen White and the Holy Spirit: Preliminary Historical Perspectives". Spiritual Discernment Conference. SDAnet AtIssue. Retrieved 2008-02-15. Former Adventist Bruce Weaver (biography) also claims to have discovered it independently.
  9. ^ Hoyt, Frederick G. (ed.) (August 1987). "Trial of Elder I. Dammon Reported for the Piscataquis Farmer" (PDF). Spectrum. Roseville, California: Adventist Forums. 17 (5): 29–36. ISSN 0890-0264. Retrieved 2008-08-11.CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list (link). See also a website reprint. Also reprinted as "The Trial of Elder I. Dammon" in Appendix 3 of Prophetess of Health by Ronald Numbers, p326–343 of the 3rd edition
  10. ^
  11. ^
  • Johns, Warren Harvey. "The Dammon case" Spectrum 18:2 (1987), p64 (letter to the editor)

External links[edit]