A Dream That Gave No Rest
WILLIAM BLACKSTONE was born in 1841 in upstate New York. He achieved financial success early in life, while living in the Chicago area, but after undergoing an all-night, dreamlike, soul-searching experience, he renounced all material pursuit and set out on a path of religious devotion through advancement of his Christian faith. In his study of prophetic scriptures he was led to a deep conviction of the Jewish people’s divinely ordained right to their biblical homeland.
In 1878, Blackstone authored a best- selling book that set forth his convictions and sold millions of copies worldwide, leading to great demand for his appearance at religious gatherings. In so doing, he brought Christian Zionism to new heights of public awareness. But Blackstone did not stop there; rather he felt impelled to act to convert the dream of a renewed Jewish homeland into reality.
In 1891, Blackstone used his now considerable influence as an evangelical Christian leader to craft a petition to be privately presented to the world’s leaders. It called for support of a Jewish homeland in ancient Palestine. The petition was signed by 413 highly prominent US leaders, including such figures as John D. Rockefeller, J. Pierpont Morgan, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, the Speaker of the House of Representatives and other leading legislators, clergymen and newspaper editors. It came to be called “The Blackstone Memorial” and gave a powerful voice to the cause of Christian Zionism.
The Blackstone Memorial
Blackstone wrote: “If they could have autonomy in government, the Jews of the world would rally to transport and establish their suffering brethren in their time-honored habitation… Let us now restore to them the land of which they were so cruelly despoiled by our Roman ancestors.”
Blackstone personally presented his memorial to Presidents Benjamin Harrison, William McKinley, Grover Cleveland, Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson. It profoundly influenced President Wilson's decision to support the British- proposed Balfour Declaration, creating a Jewish homeland in Palestine. Indeed, Blackstone’s arguments were so persuasive that thirteen years after his death, Harry Truman quoted him virtually verbatim in declaring the United States' decision to be the first nation to recognize the new State of Israel.
Nowhere But the Holy Land
When Blackstone learned that Theodor Herzl and other Jewish Zionist leaders were considering an offer from the British government to establish a Jewish homeland in Uganda, he marked up his personal Bible with all of the prophetic passages underlined which called for the return of the
Children of Israel to the Promised Land. He sent the Bible to Herzl, who is said to have kept it on his desk for most of his life.
William Blackstone died in 1935, thirteen years before his dream came true. He had often described himself only as “God’s little errand boy.” But in fact, he had been a powerful messenger of God’s call to his people to come home...and to the world to let them.
It's hard to imagine how this humble man, practically forgotten today, did so much, or how one persistent and untiring leader of Christian Zionism became an instrument to help prevent the Jewish homeland from being created in Africa instead of in the land of Abraham's promise.