Did Mark Twain ever comment on the Seventh-Day Adventist Church?
October 6, 2009 8:03 PM   Subscribe

Did Mark Twain ever comment on the Seventh-Day Adventist Church?

My father-in-law heard that Mark Twain once remarked that the Seventh-Day Adventist Church would have X number of members by year Z. Please, does anyone know if Mark Twain said such a thing (perhaps even about a different church)? If so, what were the membership and year mentioned?

From another angle: Mark Twain is often attributed to things he did not say. So, did some other famous writer say something along these lines?

I have Googled and searched the letters in the Mark Twain Project. I have not looked in any Twain quotation collections, indexes, or concordances.

Many thanks!
posted by Anephim to Religion & Philosophy (5 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Twain had quite a bit to say about the Mormons (for instance in Roughing It).

He mentions a census that includes some Seventh-Day Adventists in Following the Equator (Part 5, p. 166), where he finds 203 Seventh-Day Adventists (as well as a whole lot of other religious groups) in the 320,430 total population and makes the comment that "All the big sects of the world can do more than merely live in it: they can spread, flourish, prosper."

Possibly interesting paper:
Scharnhorst, Gary 1989: Mark Twain and the Millerites: Notes on A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court. American Transcendental Quarterly, 3, 3: 297-304.
Best as I can make out (the article doesn't seem to be online anywhere), the article makes the case that the Millerites were (one of) the targets of the satire in Connecticut Yankee.

In Interview 164 (p. 457) Twain says (pointing to various houses in the city etc.), "There is where the Millerites put on their robes one night to go up to heaven. None of them went that night, John, but no doubt many of them have gone since."

That same source mentions that Twain writes about the Millerites in ch. 39 of The Innocents Abroad, Ch 4 of What is Man, and book 1, ch 5 of Christian Science.

So there are some places to look. Most or all of those would be found in Google books or other places online.
posted by flug at 8:50 PM on October 6, 2009 [1 favorite]

FYI I looked up the Innocents, What is Man, & Christian Science references and the only one even remotely interesting is the one from The Innocents Abroad, p. 415-16.

I'm guessing if any statement of the type you are interested in was made by Twain, it wasn't in his published works.
posted by flug at 9:01 PM on October 6, 2009

Mark Twain was good friends with Henry Huttleston Rogers. Rogers was not an Adventist (he was Unitarian) but he lived in Fairhaven, Massachusetts (and in fact, gave many buildings -- including the Unitarian church building -- to that town). Joseph Bates also lived in that town. Bates was a founder of the Adventists after the Great Disappointment.

Twain and Rogers kept up a huge correspondence. My guess would be that if Twain said such a thing, it would have been in one of his letters to Rogers. Those letters might be a focus of your search.
posted by Houstonian at 3:52 AM on October 7, 2009

Yeah, in "Roughing It" he has a long humorous section about the head of the church griping about how impossible it is to please his 300 wives. Very Twain.
posted by Melismata at 5:13 AM on October 7, 2009

Thanks, everyone, for the leads. Especially Flug. I suspect the religious census in Following the Equator is probably the basis for whatever it is my father-in-law heard.
posted by Anephim at 3:37 PM on October 8, 2009

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