This meant that the $300 commutation provision now applied only to those officially recognized as noncombatants. Up to this point Seventh-day Adventists, although firmly of that persuasion, had not publicly declared this fact, nor was their position officially recognized. The church had to act quickly to obtain official noncombatant status. Church leaders, working through proper channels, took immediate steps to achieve this. The first step was to gain the endorsement of the governor of Michigan, Austin Blair. Hence, on August 3, 1864, a communication was taken to him by three men of the General Conference Committee:
We the undersigned, Executive Committee of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, respectfully beg leave to present for your consideration the following statements:
The denomination of Christians calling themselves Seventh-day Adventists, taking the Bible as their rule of faith and practice, are unanimous in their views that its teachings are contrary to the spirit and practice of war; hence, they have ever been conscientiously opposed to bearing arms. . . . We would further represent that Seventh-day Adventists are rigidly anti-slavery, loyal to the government, and in sympathy with it against the rebellion.
But not having had a long existence as a distinct people, and our organization having but recently been perfected, our sentiments are not yet extensively known. The change in the law renders it necessary that we take a more public stand in the matter. For this reason we now lay before Your Excellency the sentiments of Seventh-day Adventists, as a body, relative to bearing arms, trusting that you will feel no hesitation in endorsing our claim that, as a people, we come under the intent of the late action of Congress concerning those who are conscientiously opposed to bearing arms, and are entitled to the benefits of said laws.
John Byington, J .N. Loughborough, George W. Amadon
General Conference Executive Committee of Seventh-day Adventists
Battle Creek, August 2, 1864.
This communication addressed to the governor was accompanied by letters of introduction and a commendation from the mayor and the leading citizens of Battle Creek.