Charles T. Russell, age of 13, joined the Congregational church (dumped Presbyterian).
He went (like Girl Scouts are sent out with cookies to sell) door to door to RAISE MONEY for the Congregational Church.
ATTITUDE as a YOUTH
Russell hated fundraising. He really did.
He had to ask poor people to part with their money.
He said he felt he was "fleecing the flock."
ACQUIRING HIS FATHER'S CASH
Russell sold 5 men's clothing stores owned by his father to create fungible assets.
$300,000 of 1876 dollars would be worth : $6,521,739.13 in 2019.
If you're going to start a publishing business without asking for money, you better have six and one-half million available.
Russell threw his money into publishing End Times writings. He spent the family fortune like a drunken sailor on this favorite obsession.
If somebody wrote something Russell agreed with he'd pay for the publishing.
If that somebody disagreed with Russell, he'd pull his funding.
Russell finally fell in love with his own writings to the exclusion of everybody else (including his wife) and began writing 7 ambitious volumes.
His goal? He wanted to set everybody straight.
Inside of one decade, 1786-1886, the money dried up due to the immense amount of money spent in printing and distributing Russell's first three publications.
He was spending about a million dollars a year! (In today's money.)
GUESS WHAT YEAR Russell tried to sell his books in bookstores?
ELEVEN YEARS LATER
By 1897, nearly one million Dawns had been distributed, largely by the colporteurs.
That is an old-fashioned way of saying: DOOR TO DOOR BOOK SALESMEN.
After 1931, the term “colporteur” was replaced by “pioneer.”
Pastor Russell's volumes were sold at about $2 of 1900 dollars worth: $55.00 in 2016 purchasing power.
Russell also turned to writing sermons as a newspaper columnist and built up a readership of about fifteen million people.
Having built a customer base (faithful readers) Russell went on tour giving sermons IN PERSON becoming one of the most recognized and 'famous' ministers in the world, like Joel Osteen or Joyce Meyers today.
PUBLIC VS PRIVATE DONATIONS
Russell had no problems accepting private donations!
Pastor Russell had made a name for himself by refusing to take collections during public meetings.
The slogan "Seats Free - No Collections" angered many clergymen because it was a slam on the traditional collection plate process.
The Watch Tower turned to advertise miraculous beans as a free giveaway and then later switched to Miracle Wheat for a dollar. Both the beans and the wheat had been privately donated. Once again, making assets fungible, Russell converted to $$.
MARKET VALUE VS "MIRACLE" VALUE
(Sixty times market value)
In 1911, the market price for wheat was 59 cents to $1 a bushel.
In Charles Taze Russell's (Hicks Street) Tabernacle, "miracle wheat" was being sold for $60 a bushel, or $1 a pound.
(The beans and wheat had been DONATED to Russell's ministry)
$1 of 1911 dollars would be worth: $24.39 in 2016 buying power.
Miracle Wheat brought in $1,800 of 1911 dollars would be worth: $43,902.44 today.
TROUBLE IN PARADISE (Wife = Money)
1897: When his wife Maria petitioned the court for a LEGAL SEPARATION (not a divorce) she was granted an Alimony.
Russell quietly transferred his funds into the WTS account and strung Maria's alimony out torturously to force her to remain dependent on him and to teach her a lesson.
Russell was litigious if he thought he could win a lawsuit.
The Washington Post partially quoted Maria's character testimony about his claim "he floated from woman to woman like a jellyfish."
Russell sued and was awarded one dollar in damages.
But--he relentlessly pursued an appeal making himself a legal nuisance and the case was settled for $15,000. $15,000 of 1915 dollars would be worth : $348,837.21 in today's money.
ATTORNY CLIENT PRIVILEGE
Russell's attorney was Judge Rutherford who wrote a pamphlet: Great Battle in the Ecclesiastical Heavens defending Russell's reputation. Thus Rutherford curried favor.
"This is a non-stock corporation; it pays no dividends, no salaries, and no one has ever, as its books clearly show, reaped any financial benefit therefrom. It is supported entirely by voluntary contributions made by those who are interested in the promulgation of Bible Truths. Its work is exclusively religious.
For each contribution of $10.00, the contributor is entitled to one voting share. While there are nearly two hundred thousand shares, and it would be an easy matter to elect some other man as president, there never has been cast a vote against Pastor Russell."
VALUE OF SHARES
Ten dollars times two-hundred thousand shares = $2,000,000 of 1915 dollars
This would be worth: $46,511,627.91 today.
(OH NO! TAX PROBLEMS! Note: 1913 Federal Income Tax was passed into law.)
NINE MILLION people saw the PHOTO DRAMA of CREATION (a slide show) presented to audiences around the world. Stop and consider:
No collection plate was passed--however--DONATIONS were accepted.
(A donation box in plain sight.)
On September 23, 1912, the Eagle ran a cartoon called "Easy Money Puzzle."
Russell sued the Eagle for libel, demanding $100,000 in damages for
"injury to his reputation, good name, fame, and standing."
The case was brought before Justice Charles H. Kelby and a jury in the Kings County Supreme Court.
One of the juicier allegations made against the Watch Tower Society was that it had coerced an insane man, Hope Hay, into contributing $10,000 to its funds.
William E. Van Amburgh, secretary-treasurer of' the Watch Tower Society, acknowledged that Mr. Hay was in an "insane asylum" and that the Watch Tower Society was footing his bills, but denied that Mr. Hay had not given the money of his own free will.
The jury of twelve men was out for less than forty-five minutes before it returned a verdict of not guilty in the Eagle's favor.
This is just a historical snapshot of how money and the Watch Tower had their beginnings. One could say: Fast and Loose.
Russell was big on his own Virtue Signalling and not above playing the victim.
Has the Watch Tower changed over the last 100 years?
TWENTY YEARS AGO
TWENTY YEARS LATER