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A Brief History of the Apocalypse

1701 - 1970: Modern Times

"Prophecies of doom are nothing new." -- Edward Teller
The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse by Albrecht Dürer

Predicted date Commentary
1705 The End, according to some Camisard prophets. (Kyle p.70)
1706 The End, according to some Camisard prophets. (Kyle p.70)
1708 The End, according to some Camisard prophets. (Kyle p.70)
1716 Cotton Mather's end-of-the-world prediction #2. (Abanes p.338)
Apr 5, 1719 The return of a comet was supposed to wipe out the Earth, said Jacques Bernoulli, progenitor of the mathematical Bernoulli family. (Randi p.240-241)
1734 Doomsday was to come between 1700 and 1734, predicted 15th century Cardinal Nicolas of Cusa. (Weber p.82, McIver #73)
1736 Cotton Mather's end-of-the-world prediction #3. (Abanes p.338)
Oct 13, 1736 William Whitson predicted that London would meet its doom by flood on this day, prompting many Londoners to gather in boats on the Thames. (Randi)
1757 In a vision, angels supposedly informed mystic Emanuel Swedenborg that the world would end in 1757. Few took him seriously. Ah, the 18th century, the Age of Reason! (Randi p.241, Weber p.104)
Apr 5, 1761 Religious extremist William Bell claimed the world would be destroyed by earthquake on this day. Since there had been an earthquake on February 8 and another on March 8, he reasoned that the world must end in another 28 days' time! Again, Londoners gathered in boats on the Thames or headed for the hills. When his prediction didn't come true, he was promptly thrown into Bedlam, London's notorious nuthouse. (Randi p.241)
Feb 28, 1763 Devout Methodist George Bell foresaw the end of the world on this date. (Weber p.102)
May 19, 1780 On this day in New England the skies mysteriously turned dark for several hours in the afternoon, causing people to believe that a biblical prophecy had come true and Judgement Day had arrived. In reality, the darkness was caused by smoke from large-scale forest fires to the west. (Abanes p.217)
1789 The coming of the Antichrist, according to 14th century Cardinal Pierre d'Ailly. (Weber p.59)
1790 The Second Coming, according to Irish orator Francis Dobbs. (Schwartz p.181)
1792 The end of the world according to the Shakers. (Abanes p.338)
  • The end of the world according to the Shakers. (Abanes p.338)
  • Charles Wesley, brother of Methodist Church founder John Wesley, predicted Doomsday would be in 1794. (Source: Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance)
1795 The Millennium would begin between 1793 and 1795, claimed retired English sailor Richard Brothers, who called himself "God's Almighty Nephew." He was convinced that he would lead the ten lost tribes of Israel, and once said that God told him he would become king of England. He was eventually committed to an insane asylum. (Kyle p.73, McIver #301)
Nov 19, 1795 While campaigning for Richard Brothers' release, Nathaniel Brassey Halhead proclaimed that the world would end on Nov 19. (McIver #310)
1801 Pierre Turrel's doomsday calculation #3 (See 1537). (Randi p. 239)
1805 Destruction of the world by earthquake in 1805, followed by an age of everlasting peace when God will be known by all, as foretold by 17th century Presbyterian minister Christopher Love. He eventually lost his head, literally. (Schwartz p.101)
1814 Pierre Turrel's doomsday calculation #4 (See 1537). (Randi p. 239)
Dec 25, 1814 Jesus was to be re-born on Christmas Day, according to the 64-year-old virgin prophet Joanna Southcott, who claimed to be pregnant with the Christ child. Witnesses claimed that she did indeed appear pregnant. She died on Christmas Day, and a subsequent autopsy proved that she was not pregnant after all. (Skinner p.109)
Oct 14, 1820 Southcott follower John Turner claimed the world would come to an end on this day. After this prophecy failed, John Wroe took over leadership of the cult. (Randi p.241-242)
1832 The beginning of the Millennium, according to John Dilks. (Weber p.176)
1836 Methodist Church founder John Wesley foresaw the Millennium beginning in 1836, the same year that the Beast of Revelation was to rise from the sea. (McIver #269)
1843 Harriet Livermore's Parousia prediction #1. (McIver #699)
Apr 28, 1843 Although this date was not officially endorsed by the Millerite leadership, it was a popular belief among William Miller's followers that the Second Coming would take place on this day. (Festinger p.16)
Dec 31, 1843 Many Millerites expected Jesus to return at the end of 1843. (Festinger p.16)
Mar 21, 1844 William Miller, leader of the so-called Millerite movement, predicted through careful calculation that Christ would return sometime between March 21, 1843 and March 21, 1844. He gathered a following of thousands of devotees. After the failure of Jesus to show up during this window, the cult experienced a crisis of faith and in the confusion began reinterpreting the prophecy and aggressively proselytizing. (Gould p.49, Festinger p.16-17)
Oct 22, 1844 It's Miller time again! Rev. Samuel S. Snow, an influential Millerite, predicted the Second Coming on this day. The date was soon accepted by Miller himself. On that day, the Millerites gathered on a hilltop to await the coming of Jesus. After the inevitable no-show, the event became known as the "Great Disappointment." (Gould p.49, Festinger p.17)
1845 The Second Coming according to the Second Adventists, a group that formed from the remaining hardcore members of Miller's cult. The Second Adventists were the forerunners of the Seventh Day Adventists (Kyle p.91)
1846 Another Second Coming according to the Second Adventists. (Kyle p.91)
1847 Harriet Livermore's Parousia prediction #2. (McIver #699)
Aug 7, 1847 "Father" George Rapp, a German ascetic who founded a sect known as the Harmonists (aka the Rappites) and established a utopian commune in Economy, Pennsylvania, was convinced that Jesus would return before his death. Even on his deathbed he refused to give up hope for Christ's return, saying "If I did not know that the dear Lord meant I should present you all to him, I should think my last moment's come." It turned out that his last moment had indeed come, yet Jesus failed to show up. Rapp died on August 7, 1847. (Cohen p.23, Thompson p.283, Encyclopedia Britannica)
1849 Yet another Second Coming according to the Second Adventists. (Kyle p.91)
1851 You guessed it! Still another Second Coming according to the Second Adventists. (Kyle p.91)
1856 The Crimean War (1853-56) was seen by some as the Battle of Armageddon. After all, Russia had plans to wrest control of Palestine from the Ottoman Empire. Perhaps it was this war that triggered the popularity of the "Russia invades Israel" scenario so popular among modern prophecy teachers. (McIver #437)
1862 The end of 6000 years since Creation, and thus the end of the world, according to John Cumming of the Scottish National Church. (Abanes p.283)
1863 Southcott follower John Wroe, who in 1823 tried (and failed) to walk on water and underwent a public circumcision, calculated that the Millennium would begin in 1863. (Skinner p.109)
1867 The Anglican minister Michael Paget Baxter was an ardent date setter, a veritable Charles Taylor of the 19th century. In one of his earliest publications he predicted the End for 1861-1867. (McIver #348)
1868 In another publication Michael Baxter claimed the Battle of Armageddon would take place this year. (Abanes p.338, McIver #349)
1869 Another End according to Michael Baxter. (McIver #350)
Jun 28, 1870 The end of the world as per Irvin Moore's book The Final Destiny of Man, to be followed by Christ's millennial reign on Earth. He predicted that during this year, France would fall, and Jerusalem would become the capital of the world. (McIver #746)
1872 Michael Baxter predicted another Armageddon in 1871-72 or thereabouts. (McIver #351)
  • The end of the world according to the Jehovah's Witnesses. This was to become the first in a long string of failed doomsday prophecies by members of this group. (Gould p.50, Kyle p.93)
  • The Parousia according to the newly formed Seventh Day Adventists, a group founded by former Millerites. (Abanes p.339)
1878 The end of the world according to the Jehovah's Witnesses. (Kyle p.93)
1880 Thomas Rawson Birks in his book First Elements of Sacred Prophecy determined that the end of the world would be in 1880 by employing the time-honored Great Week theory. (McIver #371)
  • The end of the world according to the Jehovah's Witnesses. (Kyle p.93)
  • The end of the world according to some pyramidologists. (Randi p.242)
  • 16th century prophetess Mother Shipton is said to have written the couplet:

    The world to an end shall come
    In eighteen hundred and eighty one.

    In 1873, it was revealed that the couplet was a forgery by Charles Hindley, who published Mother Shipton's prophecies in 1862. This did not stop people from expecting the end in 1881, however. (Schwartz p.122, Randi p.242-243)
1890 Northern Paiute leader Wovoka predicted the Millennium beginning in 1890. This prediction came from a trance he experienced during a solar eclipse in 1889. Wovoka was a practitioner of the Ghost Dance cult, a bizarre hybrid of apocalyptic Christianity and American Indian mysticism. (Gould p.56-57, p.69)
1891 In 1835 Joseph Smith, founder of Mormonism, foresaw the Second Coming taking place in 56 years' time, or about 1891. (Source:
1895 The Millennium, according to Reverend Robert Reid of Erie, Pennsylvania. (Weber p.176)
1896 Michael Baxter (he's baaaack!) wrote a book entitled The End of This Age About the End of This Century in which predicted the Rapture taking place in 1896. According to Rev. Baxter, 144,000 true Christians were supposed to be summoned to Heaven during this year. (Thompson p.121)
1899 Charles A.L. Totten predicted that 1899 was a possible date for the end of the world. Interestingly, the infamous "NASA discovers missing day" urban legend has its roots in Totten's writings. (McIver #924)
  • Father Pierre Lachèze foresaw Doomsday occurring in 1900, eight years after the Temple in Jerusalem was to be rebuilt. (Weber p.136)
  • Followers of Brazilian ascetic Antonio Conselheiro expected the end to come by the year 1900. (Thompson p.125-126)
Nov 13, 1900 Over 100 members of the Russian cult Brothers and Sisters of the Red Death committed suicide, expecting the world to end on this day. (Sources: Portuguese article and this site)
  • A sect calling itself the Catholic Apostolic Church claimed that Jesus would return by the time the last of its 12 founding members died. The last member died in 1901. (Boyer p.87)
  • Rev. Michael Baxter foresaw the end of the world in 1901 in his book The End of This Age About the End of This Century. (Thompson p.121)
Apr 23, 1908 Once again, it's Michael Baxter. In his book Future Wonders of Prophecy, the Rapture was to take place on March 12, 1903 between 2pm and 3pm, and Armageddon was to take place on this day, which is after the Tribulation. (McIver #353)
Oct 1908 Pennsylvanian grocery store owner Lee T. Spangler claimed that the world would meet a fiery end during this month. (Abanes p.339)
1910 The end of the world according to the Jehovah's Witnesses. (Kyle p.93)
May 18, 1910 Many people believed the arrival of Halley's Comet would spell the end of the world. Some thought that cyanide gas from the comet's tail would poison the Earth's atmosphere. In Germany, one could buy postcards depicting apocalyptic scenes bearing the caption, "End of the World on May 18". Con artists took advantage of people's fears by selling "comet pills" to make people immune to the toxins...or so they claimed. (Weber p.196-198, Abanes p.339)
1911 19th century Scottish astronomer and pyramidologist Charles Piazzi Smyth concluded from his research on the dimensions of the Great Pyramid of Giza that the Second Coming would occur between 1892 and 1911. (Cohen p.94)
Oct 1, 1914 The end of the world according to the Jehovah's Witnesses. In fact, they viewed World War I as the Battle of Armageddon. (Skinner p.102)
1915 The beginning of the Millennium according to John Chilembwe, fundamentalist leader of a rebellion in Nyasaland (present-day Malawi). (Gould p.54-55, p.69)
1918 The end of the world according to the Jehovah's Witnesses. (Kyle p.93)
Dec 17, 1919 According to meteorologist Albert Porta, a conjunction of six planets on this date would cause a magnetic current to "pierce the sun, cause great explosions of flaming gas, and eventually engulf the Earth." Panic erupted in many countries around the world because of this prediction, and some even committed suicide. (Abanes p.60-61)
1925 The end of the world according to the Jehovah's Witnesses. (Kyle p.93)
Feb 13, 1925 According to Margaret Rowan, the angel Gabriel appeared before her in a vision and told her that the world would end at midnight on this date, which happened to be Friday the 13th. (Abanes p.45)
Spring 1928 J.B. Dimbleby calculated that the Millennium would begin in the spring of 1928, with the Rapture and Second coming taking place between 1889 and 1928. But the true end of the world, he claimed, wouldn't take pace until around the year 3000. (McIver #495)
1934 Final apocalyptic battle was to begin, claimed Chicago preacher Nathan Cohen Beskin in 1931. (Abanes p.280)
Sep 1935 In 1931, Wilbur Glen Voliva announced that "the world is going to go 'puff' and disappear in September, 1935." (Abanes p.287)
  • Herbert W. Armstrong, founder of the Worldwide Church of God, told members of his church that the Rapture was to take place in 1936, and that only they would saved. After the prophecy failed, he changed he date three more times. (Shaw p.99)
  • End of the world according to some pyramidologists. (Randi p.242)
1938 Gus McKey claimed in a pamphlet that the 6000th year since Creation would come between 1931 and 1938, signifying the end of the world. (Abanes p.283)
  • The end of the world according to the Jehovah's Witnesses. (Shaw p.72)
  • The end of the world according to Leonard Dale-Harrison. (Kyle p.111)
1943 Herbert W. Armstrong's Rapture prediction #2. (Shaw p.99)
Sep 21, 1945 In 1938 a minister named Long had a vision of a mysterious hand writing the number 1945 and a voice saying the world would be destroyed at 5:33pm on September 21. His prophecy failed, naturally. (Source: Portuguese article)
1947 In 1889, John Ballou Newbrough (aka "America's Greatest Prophet") foresaw the destruction of all nations and the beginning of post-apocalyptic anarchy in 1947. I guess he wasn't such a great prophet after all. Newbrough was the founder of the Oahspe cult. (Randi p.243)
1950 The end of the world, as per Henry Adams. (Mann p.x)
1952 In 1950, a young Billy Graham stated "We may have another year, maybe two years. Then I believe it is going to be over." (Source: Article by Hugo McCord)
Jan 9, 1953 The end of the world, according to Agnes Carlson, the founder of a Canadian cult called the Sons of Light. (Source: Portuguese article)
Aug 1953 Pyramidologist David Davidson, in his book The Great Pyramid, Its Divine Message, wrote that the Millennium would begin sometime during this month. (Source: article by John Baskette)
Dec 21, 1954 The world was to be destroyed by terrible flooding on this date, claimed Dorothy Martin (a.k.a. Marian Keech), leader of a UFO cult called Brotherhood of the Seven Rays (a.k.a. The Seekers). Among the members of this cult were George Hunt Williamson and the aptly named Charles Laughead. This case became the subject of Leon Festinger's book When Prophecy Fails, the classic, ground-breaking case study of cognitive dissonance and the effect that failed prophecy has on "true believers". (Festinger, Heard p.46-48, McIver #1949)
Apr 23, 1957 According to Mihran Ask, a pastor from California, "Sometime between April 16 and 23, 1957, Armageddon will sweep the world! Millions of persons will perish in its flames and the land will be scorched." (Watchtower, Oct 15, 1958, p.613)
1958 David A. Latimer, in his book Opening of the Seven Seals and the Half Hour of Silence, predicted that the Second Coming would take place in 1956 or 1958, right after the Battle of Armageddon. (McIver #1501)
Apr 22, 1959 Victor Houteff, founder of the Davidians -- an offshoot of the Seventh Day Adventists -- prophesied that the End would be coming soon, but he never set a date. After his death, however, his widow Florence prophesied that the Rapture would take place on April 22, 1959. Hundreds of faithful gathered at Mount Carmel outside Waco to await the big moment, but it was not to be. (Thompson p.289)
1960 Pyramidologist Charles Piazzi Smyth (see the 1911 entry) claimed that the Millennium would begin no later than 1960. (Source: article by John Baskette)
Feb 4, 1962 A planetary alignment on this day was to bring destruction to the world. Incidentally, the Antichrist was supposed to have been born the following day, according to pop psychic/astrologer Jeane Dixon. (Abanes p.340)
1966 Between 1965 and 1966, an apocalyptic battle was to occur, resulting in the fall of the United States, claimed the Nation of Islam. (Kyle p.162)
  • The establishment of the Kingdom of Heaven, according to Rev. Sun Myung Moon. (Kyle p.148)
  • A young Jim Jones, who later became guru of the Kool-Aid cult People's Temple, had visions that a nuclear holocaust was to take place in 1967. (Weber p.214)
Aug 20, 1967 The beginning of the third woe of the Apocalypse, during which the southeastern US would be destroyed by a Soviet nuclear attack, according to UFO prophet George Van Tassel, who claimed to have channeled an alien named Ashtar. (Alnor p.145)
Dec 25, 1967 Danish cult leader Knud Weiking claimed that a being named Orthon was speaking to him, saying that there would be a nuclear war by Christmas 1967 that would disturb the Earth's orbit. His followers built a survival bunker in preparation for this catastrophe.
Aug 9, 1969 Second Coming of Christ, according to George Williams, leader of the Morrisites, a 19th century branch of Mormonism. (Robbins p.77)
Nov 22, 1969 The Day of Judgement, according to Robin McPherson, who supposedly channeled an alien named Ox-Ho. (Shaw p.154)

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