The passage below is quoted from the book, “Pastor Russell, Messenger of Millennial Hope,” pages 275-277. Supporting references can be found in this book.
Rumblings of Conspiracy and Intrigue
At the headquarters office, an alleged plot began to unfold that one historian dubbed a “bitter palace intrigue.” It has also been likened more to a political take over by despots and usurpers than to the sincere efforts of Pastor Russell’s followers to carry on in the administration of the Society’s work. Terms such as “sordid,” “behind-the-scenes scheming,” “conspiracy” and “tyranny” have been used to describe what appeared to many as an almost unthinkable rebellious process to circumvent the Pastor’s careful and best efforts to prevent headship from arising and taking over the reins of the organization.
Several members of the Society’s Board of Directors, who were later deposed from office, were moved to write:
“Little did we … think that those who would under take to manage the affairs of the Society after Brother Russell’s death would attempt to pervert and change the time-honored customs and usages left us by our dear Pastor, or that there would be introduced such flagrant and sweeping departures from the form of government as out lined in Brother Russell’s Will and in the Charter of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society, written by his own hand.”
Resuming the comments of the two observers previously cited:
“Almost at once, after the passing of Pastor Russell, there emerged one individual amongst the brethren, to seize control and domination of the Society and all that pertained to it, in complete violation of the provisions of Pastor Russell’s Will and the Charter of the corporation.”
In rapid succession, this would-be leader allegedly proceeded to: (a) Declare Pastor Russell’s Will technically invalid; (b) Arrange to have himself elected as the new President of the Society; (c) Prepare by-laws for adoption by the shareholders in which he declared himself (as President) the exclusive manager of the Watch Tower Society; (d) Appoint an Advisory Committee of three, not previously provided for, which in effect bypassed the authority of the seven-member Board of Directors, a majority of which had become oppositional to him; and (e) Dismiss twenty-five long-term members of the Bethel who disagreed with his policies, while soliciting support from the remaining workers under threat of expulsion if they refused.
How was it possible for one individual allegedly to seize control of the group with almost military precision in seeming opposition to the Pastor’s express wishes? A common conclusion of many was that this person had the advantage of being trained as a lawyer and the experience of serving for awhile as the Watch Tower’s legal counsel. As such it was thought he was able skillfully to manipulate matters to assure his dominant role. Another source adds that the aspiring successor to the Pastor “was a man of fear some personal power. Against his forceful personality, few people were able to stand.”
It was also charged that this same person conspired with two other prominent members of the head quarters staff to obtain for himself the full powers and authority that originally had been vested exclusively in the hands of the founder. This was the contention of a leading member of the group who at first had been in favor of the new President. When he later became embroiled in controversy with the new head of the Society, he revealed stunning details of the alleged take over:
“They began this conspiracy before the election. They prearranged every detail of the voting shareholders’ meeting Jan. 6 . [The aspiring President] prepared and [his co-conspirator] approved the resolutions that among other things were to secure for the President executive and managerial authority …
“A week before the election [the would-be leader] furnished a brother with an account of the proceedings of the voting shareholders’ meeting for publication in the press of the country, telling of his election by the Secretary casting the ballot of the convention and of the unanimity of his election, and giving some of his speech of acceptance. The Editor of the New York Herald [one of many who were given the advance copy] commented on the prophetic gifts of ‘those Bethel people’ in being able to foretell just what would happen at the election!
“In this account [the aspiring President] failed to state that by his prearrangement the nominations were so closed, that there could be no other Presidential candidates for whom thousands of voting shares were instructed, and that he prepared the resolution recommending that he be made Executive and Manager. No political convention was ever more completely or more smoothly ‘bossed’ than the voting share holders’ meeting Jan. 6.
“Certainly the remark that [the aspiring leader] made to me in July, when he explained how he arranged for the election of [a brother] to the Board, applies to the proceedings of the Jan. 6 meeting. [He said] ‘Of course… you know all things of that character are arranged before hand, just like matters connected with a political convention!’ ”