Although James was theoretically in agreement with the idea that he should step aside and let others carry the burden of leadership in the church, it was not easy for him to stand back and have no say in what should be done and how. He was distressed when he saw moves made in administrative lines that he felt could result in failure or would injure the cause.
As the time neared for the General Conference session with its election of officers and committees, the White household experienced some tense moments. James was trying to divest himself of responsibilities. Before the session opened, Ellen reported to the children in California, "Father has already sent in his resignation of every office except in connection with the publishing work. I think there will be no disagreeable issue" (letter 42, 1880).
The national camp meeting opened on September 28. The first meeting of the General Conference session was held on Wednesday afternoon, October 6.
As president of the General Conference, James White was in the chair. Twenty delegates were present, and by vote of the conference their number was increased to 38 by drawing in from those present several from conferences who had limited delegations. The appropriate committees were appointed.
Monday morning, October 11, the nominating committee reported with the following recommendations:
- For president, George I. Butler
- For secretary, Uriah Smith
- For treasurer, Mrs. M. J. Chapman
- For Conference Committee, G. I. Butler, S. N.
- Haskell, and H. W. Kellogg
James White, serving as chairman of the meeting, called for the vote."The nominees were . . . unanimously elected" (RH, Oct. 14, 1880).