What really happened around 1918 when WT leaders were imprisoned?

by dubstepped 34 Replies latest watchtower beliefs

  • _Morpheus

    Rotflmao!!!! Slim could have written that article. The key phrase is “like every religion that appeals to the religious fanatic, russlisium, now on its last legs....” oh my. An article from 1918 predicting that annnnny day now, soon(!), veeeeeerrrrrryyyyy sooooon, the org will collapse. I wait with baited breath.

  • OrphanCrow

    It is interesting to note that there were other Bible Students that were arrested and imprisoned during WW1 that we hear nothing or little about.

    I found this story about a female Bible Student who was also arrested and imprisoned:

    UNITED STATES v. EMMA MARTIN (1917-20) is the first criminal prosecution -- local, state, or federal -- that we have found that resulted in a FEMALE "Jehovah's Witness" spending any significant amount of time in jail or prison.
    Emma Martin, of Colton, San Bernardino County, California, became an official "Colporteur" for the WatchTower Society in June 1916. Martin had been a "Bible Student" since 1905. However, when her husband died in 1916, she began supporting herself by selling children's books door-to-door, and thereafter, by selling WatchTower literature door-to-door. Martin claimed that the "commission" from such literature sales was her sole means of support. Martin also was the "pianist" for the local Congregation, which met in rented halls.
    Emma Martin was jailed in March 1918 during the nationwide federal sweep of Bible Students whom were selling copies of the seditious THE FINISHED MYSTERY book, as were three others (MALES) of her fellow San Bernardino County Bible Students. As were most arrested Bible Students across the United States, Martin was indicted in April 1918 on two federal charges -- causing insubordination and disloyalty amongst members of the military during a time of war; and obstructing the recruitment and enlistment of members of the military services. Emma Martin's fellow Bible Students blessed and encouraged Martin for her "martyrdom" both in the courtroom and later at the jail. Martin reportedly spent all of her time in jail preaching to the jail "matron" who constantly looked after Martin's welfare. That matron reported that Martin preached to her that "the end of the world" would occur before the start of 1919, and that she (matron) should get right with God.
    At Emma Martin's trial in July 1918, a jury found Martin "guilty" only on the first count of the indictment. That federal jury also recommended "leniency" to the sentencing judge -- presumably because Martin was a "female". Emma Martin ultimately was sentenced to three years in federal prison, but was released on $5000.00 bond during her lengthy -- probably intentionally drawn out -- appeals. However, after Martin's conviction was ultimately affirmed by the USCA in early April 1920, Martin was shipped to San Quentin. Only a few weeks later, on June 23, 1920, Emma Martin's sentence was commuted by President Woodrow Wilson, and she was immediately released and returned to San Bernardino. (It is not known how much time that Emma Martine spent in county jails between the time of her arrest and conviction.)
    Like all good Jehovah's Witnesses, Emma Martin repeatedly "shaded", "spun", and outright LIED during her trial testimony. For example, Martin could quote and explain from memory many sections throughout THE FINSIHED MYSTERY book, but the parts of the book which were "seditious" -- for which people wanted to buy the book, and for which JWs were being arrested and jailed -- Martin supposedly had never even read those parts.
    It is also clear from Martin's testimony that, as it has done for decades, the WatchTower Society published material specifically designed for "public consumption", while it made sure that its members received a verbal, off-the-record interpretation of such. For decades, multiple publications of the WatchTower Society have made much of its LETTER, dated March 7, 1918, in which it ordered its members to remove offending pages 247-253 from their large stockpiles of the FM book prior to selling such. It is clear from Martin's testimony -- to those who exercise "discernment" -- that many Bible Students removed the offending pages from only one copy of FM at a time. Those removed pages were then kept in their pocket; and if/when a sales prospect inquired about such, the pages were then given to the prospect for their perusal. If the prospect wanted to buy that copy of FM, the purchaser naturally asked for, and were given, the removed pages. "Qualified" purchasers were straight out asked if they wanted a copy from which the offending pages had not been cut-out. Despite testimony to the contrary, Martin testified that after receiving the Society's letter, she had not sold a single copy of FM with the offending pages intact.
    Notably, Emma Martin and several California "Bible Students" had been arrested "weeks" before "Judge" Rutherford and his WatchTower Directors were arrested. Click here to read the untold "rest of the story" as to what happened when the "really important people" were arrested.
    Once again, it is anyone's guess as to why "EMMA MARTIN" is not an honored name within today's WatchTower Cult community. The odds are, as do a significant percentage of "Jehovah's Witnesses", Emma Martin may have "awakened" at some point in her later life -- with the result that Martin's service and exploits were purged from the Cult's history.


  • dropoffyourkeylee

    The article posted by Wild_Thing is from the Brooklyn Daily Eagle. Admittedly, it is quite critical of the Russellites. The Eagle had had several run-ins with Russell, and had been in court against him a couple of times. As the article states, they had exposed the Miracle Wheat thing, for one, and he sued them and lost.

    Related to OC's post about Emma Martin, when I was really young we were in a congregation in Maryland with some old-timer connections. There was an old anointed brother by the name of Sillaway or something like that who had been tarred and feathered in 1918. I never spoke to him, being just a kid at the time.

  • dubstepped

    @Morpheus - Your assertion seems to be that the trial was kind of an emotional railroading of the pre-dubs back then. The powers that be knew that they were somewhat in the wrong so they let it go.

    Could it also be that since the war was over, they simply wanted to move on to matters with more relevance that retrying a case about war postwar? The Writ would essentially cause them to start all over, going after an organization for something they could no longer be doing after such a monumental war. Was it just time to move on?

    I guess what I'm saying is that it's difficult to read intent into the decision to let it go. You may be right, as the other suggestion may be as well. Do you have anything from back then that gets to the motives of letting it go? I'd be interested in seeing writings about why they dropped it.

    Regardless, it sure doesn't seem to be the heroic time it was made out to be where they were simply being singled out and unjustly persecuted.

    Thanks everyone for the information. It was an interesting time.

  • dubstepped

    @Morpheus - I should also say I think you're right and that the Borg will never go away. Even if it did some other group would fill the vacuum created. People in general want and need something to believe in. I see no mechanism by which this group ever dissolves. If it didn't back then, I don't see it in the future. And lol at the shout out to SBF.

  • _Morpheus

    @dub, yes you have described my position well, i cannot however deny the logic of the alternating position. Frankly they arnt that different. They couldnt win without the war time fervor which made it not worth pursuing. I had a source which cited transcripts of the proceeding that dropped the charges which claimed that the prosecution admitted in court that they couldnt meet the burden of proof. Unfortunately i cant put my hand on it :/ Thus my argument is invalid.

  • Diogenesister
    Drop off yourkeyLEe would add to the previous comments that the WT leaders were not singled out, rather, it was a nationwide sweep against anyone and everyone who was speaking out against US involvement in WWI. The selective service (the draft) was new, and there was widespread feeling in the US that the US should not be involved in a European War. 'Isolationism' is the word used for it in the history books. In addition, there were many many US citizens who were first or second generation immigrants from Germany, Italy, and the Balkans. The Russian Revolution had just occurred and there was a backlash against Socialists, Communists, as well as anything perceived as 'Red' (labor unions like the IWW). Rutherford and associates were not singled out; there were hundreds of people convicted of the same thing at the same time. Most memorable was Eugene Debs, convicted under the Espionage Act from giving an anti-war speech in Canton Ohio. He later ran for president from his jail cell in Moundsville WV and got almost a million votes. Rutherford and his associates (not all of them were directors of the society at the time) were convicted, then they appealed. They were released on bail and while waiting for the continuation of the trial, the war had ended and the prosecution decided not to pursue it any longer and dropped the case. The same thing happened to most of the other people who had been convicted under the Espionage Act and most were released by 1920.

    wow. Fascinating DropOffYerKeyLee!!!

    I didn't know the draft was New ( always a touchy issue in any state when first introduced). I've also often thought of the issue regarding the new immigrants being asked to fight even brothers from "the old country", as well as old Country political allegiances such as the Russian revolution.

    I had no idea too, that ( as usual) Watchtower was never singled out and just one of many groups, isolationist, pacifist, political etc etc. US@ very much needed to keep unity within her relatively New Federal Statehood, no??

  • cha ching
    cha ching

    Thx for the newspaper clip WildThing,

    $371,715 in DONATIONS in one year!

    In 1916 that would have the value of approximately $8,896,715 in 2018. No wonder he left the clothing business!

    Imagine, 'tax free' donations.

  • Wild_Thing

    There are several news clippings that give us clues as to the level of turmoil that was going on at the time. This is shows how Rutherford's plan was to retain control from within his prison cell.

    Brooklyn Daily Eagle, June 23, 1918


  • Wild_Thing

    Also, they put up the deed of the Bethel home for bail to the Judge and his buddies didn't have to spend the night in jail. They transferred the deed to an individual just hours before using it to post bail, so it would be legal.


Share this