“Mr. Crafts and His Oath” The American Sentinel 4, 32, pp. 263.

September 5, 1889

JUNE 19, there was issued a second edition of the AMERICAN SENTINEL of that date on the last page of which there was an article in reference to the failure of Mr. W. F. Crafts to comply with his challenge ha one of the editors of the AMERICAN SENTINEL to debate the Sunday law petition. In that article: it was stated that, “In the challenge of Mr. Crafts, there was no intimation that he was under the control of the Chicago ministers and that his challenge was accepted by Mr. Jones in perfect good faith, and with the understanding that Mr. Crafts was responsible for his own actions;” that “the challenge and propositions as originally made by Mr. Crafts, were not subject in any sense to the consent of others;” and that the making of the debate to depend upon the concurrence by consent of others was “an after consideration.” This edition was largely circulated in the path of Mr. Crafts’ appointments as he crossed from the Missouri River to the Pacific Coast. He found it so in Colorado, and to get even on this and much other matter in the same number, he published a sworn affidavit filling three whole columns of the Colorado Springs Republic of June 28, charging both the editors of the SENTINEL with willful and malicious slander and falsehood by the “square foot.” In that affidavit he made reference to the above statements, in the following words:—

“(1) On page 168 it is said, ‘The challenge and propositions originally made by Mr. Crafts were not subject in any sense to the consent of others. (2) In same article, it is said, ‘In the challenge of Mr. Crafts there was no intimation that he was under the control of the Chicago ministers.’ (3) In same, the dependence of the debate in Chicago upon the consent of others is called ‘an after-consideration.’

“The above statements I declare, on oath, are will-fill and malicious, slanders. In such case Prof. Jones is bound to prove his statements by the original letters. They will show that my first challenge for a debate at Kalamazoo was subject to the approval of the ministers of that city. This is stated in my original challenge to Prof. Jones, and also in my letter to Rev. W. A. Waterman of Kalamazoo, who would testify by letter to this effect, if requested. Before the ministers of Kalamazoo replied, Prof. Jones wished the place changed to Chicago, to which I consented subject to the approval of the Illinois Sabbath Association, as is shown by several of my letters to Prof. Jones, and by others, to Rev. C. E. Mandeville, D. D., of Chicago, who would so testify if requested. The Illinois Sabbath Association declined to approve and arrange the debate on the ground that Prof. Jones had shown himself a trickster at the Washington hearing and that his obscure sect were not worthy of so much attention.”

The italics in the above are exactly as they appear in the affidavit.

He calls on us to prove our statements by the original letters. This we can, do; if we could not those statements would not have been made in the SENTINEL. He says: “They will show that my first challenge for debate at Kalamazoo was subject to the approval of the ministers of that city. This is stated in my original challenge to Prof. Jones.” This is not only what he says; but he has made positive oath that it is true. He does not make even the usual qualification of an oath—that it is true to the best of his knowledge and belief. He plainly swears without qualification that his statement is true.

Here is a fac simile of the original letter to me in which the original challenge was made. (See printed copy opposite):—

PROF. A. T. JONES: I expect to be in Michigan to speak somewhere—the place is under advisement—on evening of June 3rd. I would be glad to have a kindly debate, not in the interest of personal victory for either of us, but of truth, at Kalamazoo or some other large town quite near to your headquarters, that your people as well as mine may be well represented in the audience; or better still, let it be at the Capital, to which people may more readily come from all parts of the state. If you agree, I think I could get Lansing pastors to secure a hall and advertise the meeting or convention. The subject of the debate to be the enclosed Sunday Rest Petition, which is the form in which most of the petitioners have put their case. That is, the debate is substantially the same as that at Washington, only “before the committee of the whole.”

Yours for the truth, WILBUR F. CRAFTS.

There stands the original challenge of Mr. Crafts. It shows that no such statement or condition was made, as that the debate was subject to the approval of anybody; and as for the ministers of Kalamazoo, they are not even mentioned. The only ministers that are referred to are “the Lansing pastors,” and the only mention of them is that if I should agree to debate he thought he could get the Lansing pastors “to secure a hall and advertise the meeting or convention.” That is all. There is no such statement as that the debate was subject to the approval of the Lansing pastors; and I repeat, as for the Kalamazoo ministers, they are not even mentioned in the letter. Mr. Crafts may say that he meant it so, or that he intended to say so; but that is not the question. He said that we “might properly be called to answer either in civil or church courts,” and we are ready to do so. But he must bear in mind that when he comes into either a civil or a church court, the question will not turn upon what he meant, or what he intended to say, but upon what he said. The above letter shows what he said. He swears that that challenge will show that a debate at Kalamazoo was “subject to the approval of the ministers of that city.” The challenge shows nothing of the kind. Mr. Crafts has sworn that the challenge says what it does not say.

Further: Even though the challenge had actually said that the debate was subject to the approval of the Lansing pastors, still it would be a false oath, because he swears that it was subject to the approval of the ministers of Kalamazoo. But the challenge does not even say of the Lansing pastors what Mr. Crafts swears it says of the ministers of Kalamazoo. Therefore it is demonstrated that on this point his oath is not true in any sense. If he must wear he ought to swear to the truth.

He may plead that he made this condition in a letter written to Rev. [250] W. A. Waterman of Kalamazoo. But how was I to know that? And even though it were true, what matters it to me, what he wrote to Mr. Waterman? That is not the question. The question is upon what he wrote to me. He swears that he wrote to me what he did not write to me. That is all there is to that point.

To this challenge I replied by a letter in which I said: “I gladly accept your proffer to debate. Your choice of Kalamazoo as the place is perfectly satisfactory.”

Before I received from Mr. Crafts any answer to my acceptance of his challenge, I was called to Chicago, and wrote from there, asking that the place of debate be changed from Kalamazoo to Chicago, because to have it there would be much more in keeping with his idea of having it before the “Committee of the whole.”

Of this Mr. Crafts states in his affidavit:—

“Before the ministers of Kalamazoo replied Professor Jones wished the place changed to Chicago, to which I consented, subject to the approval of the Illinois Sabbath Association, as is shown by several of my letters to Professor Jones.” The italics are his own:—



Dear Sir: I will transfer debate to Chicago for Friday evening, June 7th, as the reasons you give are good ones. Please see Rev. Dr. Mandeville, Pres. of Illinois Sabbath Association, and see if that organization will join you in arranging for the meeting. Music Hall is the proper place. To make sure of expenses let ten cents be taken at the door, announced as “a collection of no less than 10 cents each at the door to pay expenses.” The advertising should be thoroughly and impartially done, announcing the subject and the debaters, giving the whole petition, which I will sustain and you oppose. You can quote your petitition [sic.] if you choose, not in advertising, of course, but as a part of your negative argument; but I have only one night unengaged—the one named—until later in the season. I hope we may have the debate over again at some other point with two rights or more for it. For the 7th let us begin at 8 sharp, and speak 45 minutes each, with 15 each for rejoinders.

I appoint Dr. Mandeville to represent me in the arrangements, as far as debate is concerned. The expenses I leave for you and the Society to arrange and divide surplus, if any beyond my usual $10 for traveling expenses. W. F. CRAFTS.

In that letter there is no such statement as that either the debate or the change was subject to the approval of the Illinois Sabbath Association. The letter says: “I will transfer debate to Chicago.” He does not say he would transfer the debate subject to the approval of the Illinois Association, nor anything of the kind; but that he would transfer debate to Chicago; and that “as the reasons you gave are good ones.” The words are plain, and without qualification.

Then, of the Illinois Association he says: “Please see Rev. Dr. Mandeville, president of the Illinois Sabbath Association, and see if that organization “will join you in arranging for the meeting.” I was not to ask Dr. Mandeville if that organization would approve of the debate. I was not to ask whether that organization would consent to have such a meeting; but to see if that organization would join me “in arranging for the meeting.” And the only thing I ever gathered from Mr. Crafts’ letters on this point was that if that organization would not join in making arrangements he would name another party.

Again, Mr. Crafts may say that he meant that the debate was subject to the approval of the Illinois Sabbath Association; and again I say, The question is not what he meant, but what he said. He makes oath that this letter shows that the change of the debate to Chicago was subject to the approval of the Illinois Sabbath Association. The letter does not show it. He has sworn that the letter will show what it does not show. He says he said so to Dr. Mandeville, and again I say, How was I to know that? and what has that to do with this case? The question is upon what he wrote to me. He swears that the letter to me shows what it does not show.

This further proves true our original statement that the concurrence of any others was an after consideration, and in that proves false his oath that this is a “willful and malicious falsehood.” There being no such condition in the original challenge, nor in the letter changing debate to Chicago, the only way in which any such condition could ever possibly come in would be in the way of an after consideration. Thus in this third point also, it is clearly proved that his oath is contrary to fact.

Having now positively proved by his own letters, that in these points he has made a false oath, and having thus clearly impeached his testimony, the SENTINEL might here drop the whole subject; and, upon every principle of law and justice, count itself clear; being fully justified by the legal maxim, “falsus in uno, falsus in omnibus—false in one point, false in all.” But we are willing to waive all this, to be more than strictly just, and to go further and do all we can to make the question plain.

As he appointed for only one night—June 7—and expressed the hope, that we might have it over again at some point, with two nights or more, I did not go to see Dr. Mandeville, but immediately wrote again to Mr. Crafts, asking him to take more nights at first, because there could not [251] be a better place than Chicago. He replied in the following letter (we have not space for fac similes):—

PROF. JONES:—I happen to have open June 12, 13, 14, all I can spare at any time. I can come to Chicago then for the debate, on several conditions 1. My expenses from Minneapolis and return and locals in Chicago. 2. Both of us to agree not to linger after 14th, to speak on Sabbath, lest the attendance be weakened, or speeches be made with no chance to reply. 3. The debate to be under joint control of your committee and Illinois Sabbath Association, Rev. Dr. Mandeville, President, Chicago. 4. The debate to be one continuous debate for the three nights. Myself, as affirmative, to speak half an hour the first night, and you to follow with half an hour of your reply, “to be continued in our next.” You to have first hour second night and myself closing half hour. The third night each to speak twice—opening addresses 30 minutes each to be followed by rejoinders of 15 minutes each—the order to be determined by lot, that is, who shall open, &c.

Your petition I should not consent to debate “separately, as it relates to National Reform, with which I am not connected, and to Blair amendment, which as Field Sec., I have no night to work upon. I shall however refer to that petition, and you can, of course, use it in your argument as far as you consider it pertinent.

Yours, W. F. CRAFTS.

Please see Dr. Mandeville and show him this letter and see what he says about it. As to money above expenses of hall and advertising, if any, I should be willing to have it given to your denomination and Illinois Sabbath Association equally, or more appropriately, devoted half and half to your literature and ours, or better yet, to the printing of stenographic reports of the debate. I should insist on a competent stenographer taking down every word, to prevent misreporting from going uncorrected.

These dates have already been refused to the S. S. Assembly, that would have paid $50 for two or three addresses, and may be wanted any how. Please hasten a final decision.

W. F. C.

This is the last letter I received front Mr. Crafts before he declared the debate off. And as with the others, so with this; there is no such statement as that the debate was subject to the approval of the Illinois Sabbath Association or any other party. The third condition is: “The debate to be under the joint control of your committee and Illinois Sabbath Association.” Not that these committees were to decide, or either of them, whether there was to be any debate or not, nor whether the debate depended upon their approval, or the approval of either of them; and it is certain that neither I nor my representatives ever supposed for a moment that these committees were to decide whether the debate should take place or not.

This letter I received in Chicago, April 19, and as I was to leave there that same evening for Minneapolis, I appointed Elders R. M. Kilgore, and George B. Starr, of Chicago, to act with the Illinois Sabbath Association in making arrangements. They visited Dr. Mandeville, and with the following result:—

894 W. ADAMS ST., CHICAGO, Ill.,
April 20, 1889.

GEO. B. STARR, ESQ., 26 College Place, Chicago, Ill.—

Dear Sir: The executive committee of our association met yesterday and took under advisement the matter of the proposed public debate. After carefully considering the question in all its bearing, we came to the conclusion indicated in the enclosed resolution.

Very sincerely yours, C. E. MANDEVILLE.

WHEREAS, The proposition to hold a public debate between Rev. W. F. Crafts and Prof. Jones, on the petition for a Sabbath Rest bill been referred to the Illinois Sabbath Association; therefore,

Resolved, That as the time of this association is fully occupied with its own work, they do not deem it advisable to spend either time or money in any discussion which in their judgment will in no way conduce to the better observance of the Sabbath. (Fac simile opposite.)

Here we are brought to another point in Dr. Crafts’ list of sworn charges. He says that—

“The Illinois Sabbath Association declined to approve and arrange the debate, on the ground that Professor Jones had shown himself a trickster at the Washington hearing, and that his obscure sect were not worthy of so much attention.”

Mr. Crafts has positively sworn, and without qualification; that this is true. But the above resolution of that association, declared by Dr. Mandeville over his own signature to be the conclusion to which that association came, gives as the sole reason, that in their judgment a debate would “in no way conduce to the better observance of the Sabbath.”

It may be that the Illinois Association gave to Mr. Crafts the statements which he has sworn are true. If they did, then the foregoing resolution, and signature of Dr. Mandeville, show such statement to be clearly a prevarication, and Mr. Craft’s oath that it is the truth does not help the matter a particle.

N. Y. 4-22-’89.

Illinois Sabbath Association do not consent to debate, and so there will, of course, be no debate at Chicago on dates named, and it is too late to arrange for any other place at present. A new call for addresses has made it necessary for me to use those dates in the line of my original plan of tour, and so the whole matter will have to rest for the present as I leave home to-morrow and shall in few days leave on a winding way for the west.

W. F. CRAFTS. [252]

I have hit upon another plan for having the debate in Chicago in the autumn on same general plan as I wrote—of which I will write you when it is arranged, if others concur in it. Probably it will be a month or more before I can arrange it when in vicinity of Chicago in person,


En route 4-25-89. Address always, 74 E. 90, N. Y.

To these I replied in a letter, which Mr. Crafts has sworn “is an abusive private letter.” Here is a verbatim copy of this “abusive letter“:—

OTTAWA, Kansas, May 3, 1889.
Dr. W. F. Crafts, New York City

DEAR SIR: Your card of April 25th received at this place yesterday. I was about to answer your other card anyhow.

Your plan of having the debate in Chicago in the autumn is satisfactory if it shall be made definite and carried out.

You speak in your card of writing to me about it “when it is arranged, if others concur in it.” I fail to see what the concurrence or non-concurrence of others can have to do with it. I was not challenged by any others than yourself to debate; I had no others in view to debate with when I accepted your challenge. The challenge has come from yourself; the proposition, the division of time, and all other suggestions in regard to the debate, have come from you, and have been accepted by me. And the announcement has been made by you in the East that it was to be. The Christian Statesman and the Herald of Reform have announced it; and I count it wholly an inadequate reason for your declaring the debate off, as already arranged for Chicago, June 12, 13, 14, that the Illinois Sunday Association decline to have any part in it.

The obtaining of the hall, advertising, and other local arrangements for the discussion, were not wholly dependent upon Dr. Mandeville, and the executive committee of which he is chairman; there are other people in Chicago besides these, who certainly could attend to that just as well as they. And, I repeat, their declining is no valid excuse at all for your setting aside your own challenge, your own propositions, and your own appointment of dates, which I had accepted without qualification.

Yet all this I am willing to pass by if you will within a reasonable time appoint a date to which you will certainly stand.

I care nothing for the concurrence or non-concurrence of others; but unless some date is definitely settled, as above suggested, I shall hold you to the date already fixed, and hold you alone responsible for the failure of the debate to come off upon the date specified, June 12, 13, 14.

It certainly is an unusual thing for a challenger to declare a meeting off simply because certain third parties decline to have anything to do with making arrangements. Such proceeding is too much like trifling, to much like child’s play, for me to look upon it with much favor.

I hope you may soon be able to fix a definite time, whenever it may be; but I cannot promise now to accept whatever date you might name, because certain important arrangements have been made for my work in the fall, which would, in a certain measure, have to be conformed to; but this will not be much of an interference, because we can surely fix upon a date without much difficulty.

Hoping to hear a favorable report from you soon, I remain,

Very respectfully yours, etc.,


Now I am willing to submit to any civil or church court to decide whether this is an abusive letter or not.

In answer to that letter I received from Dr. Crafts, by postal card, the following:—

ADDRESS 74 E. 90TH ST., N. Y. 5-8-89.

I do not like the tone or wording of your letter. I have never accepted challenge except on condition; in the first case, that Kalamazoo pastors would arrange in my behalf, and when you wished a change, that Illinois Association, in whose field you wished to have it, would see that my interests were fairly at-tended to By referring to my letters you will see that I have kept to my agreement. I cannot allow you to arrange the debate, nor are there others in Chicago to whom it would be proper for me to turn. W. F. CRAFTS.

Field Secretary American Union.

I am doing all I can to arrange for the debate.

There is a point here worthy of particular notice. In the second sentence he says, “I have never accepted challenge except on condition,’ etc. In this he deftly turns the whole case around, makes him-self the challenged party, and, of course, in that event makes me the challenging party. This opened the way for him to decline the challenge, as I found announced by Dr. Nelson when I reached Oakland. But it is just about as unusual a thing for a man to decline his own challenge, as it is for the challenging party to declare a meeting off because certain third parties will not help make arrangements.

It is true that on that card he said he was doing all that he could to arrange for the debate; but as I had told him plainly in my last letter, that unless some date to which he would stand was soon definitely settled, I would hold him to the date already fixed; and would hold him alone responsible for the failure of the debate to come off at the time specified; as there was then more than a month before that time should come, and as I have received no communication from him since, I, yet hold him alone responsible for the failure of the debate to come off at the time appointed by himself—June 12, 13, 14. I further hold that the failure was without valid excuse on his part; and that the record fully sustains me in so holding. And yet after all this he had the face to stand up in open convention in San Francisco, August 16, and tell the audience that “Professor Jones has been wanting to debate with me;” intentionally conveying the impression that I had been the aggressive party, and that he was the noble one who had the virtue to decline. Yes, he did decline to debate, that is a fact; but it was his own challenge that he declined. And we freely allow him all the credit, and grant him all the honor, that attaches to such action in the minds of honorable men.

Mr. Crafts further says that as late as June 9, at Milwaukee, he told Rev. Mr. Corliss, of Battle Creek, that he was “hoping to have the debate in California, or at Battle Creek.” He says also that, “two days before” he said the same thing to somebody else whom he “met in Chicago.” But what was all that to me? He did not say anything of that kind to me, neither at that time, nor up to this time. Mr. Corliss was not acting for me. Whether I could debate or not did not depend upon the concurrence of somebody else. My acceptance of Mr. Crafts’s challenge was not subject to the approval of Mr. Corliss or some unnamed, and perhaps unknown person, whom Mr. Crafts happened to meet in Chicago. I was conducting my part of the controversy myself, and supposed Mr. Crafts was capable of doing the same thing for himself. In that supposition it seems I made a mistake, for which I humbly beg his pardon.

It is thus clearly demonstrated by every count that Rev. Wilbur F. Crafts, Field Secretary of the American Sabbath Union, has positively sworn to things which are not in any emote true. Yet even though all this he has done, I do not accuse him of “willful and malicious” false swearing. I only say that Mr. Crafts, failing to keep copies of his letters, forgot what he had written, and then swore to what he had not written. He ought to be more careful of his letters, and much more careful of his oath.

Yet if such is the case with Mr. Crafts’ unqualified oath, with what confidence can the people receive his unsupported word? And if he is so reckless of a solemn, deliberate oath, how careful is he apt to be of common running statements?

It is well known by all who have heard Mr. Crafts speak on the Sunday-rest subject, that he takes great delight in displaying, as an emblem of the Sunday-law movement, an Oriental saw that works only on the back stroke. In view of the evidence which we have presented in this case, we think it may be unanimously agreed that that backwards saw is a most fitting emblem for Mr. Crafts to display. We would suggest that he have enough of the same pattern made so that he and the members of the Executive Committee of the Illinois Sabbath Association, can each have at least one to wear constantly.

Having now fully proved that the SENTINEL stated the facts, it is but just to the editors of the SENTINEL to say that neither of them wrote the article in question. Both the editors of the SENTINEL were in the State of New York when that SENTINEL was issued, and did not know that the article had been written until after Mr. Crafts had published his sworn statement, when each of the editors, eceived a copy of Mr. Crafts’s affidavit and a copy of that number of the SENTINEL in the same mail. There are words used in the article that neither of the editors would have used. There is a tone to the comments upon the fact which neither of the editors of the SENTINEL would have put into an article. For these things, [253] we are sorry on our own part, and offer to Mr. Crafts our apology; but for the article’s statement of the facts, we have no apology to make. In connection with that, the only thing we are sorry for is on Mr. Craft’s part. We are sorry that he should be so careless as not to keep copies of such important letters; and that upon that he should be so forgetful of what he had written; and that then above all he should be so reckless of a solemn oath as to swear that he wrote to me what he did not write to me.

A. T. J.

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