(born Feb. 16, 1852, Pittsburgh, Pa., U.S.—died Oct. 31, 1916, Pampa, Texas) U.S. religious leader who founded the International Bible Students Association, the forerunner of the Jehovah's Witnesses. He was raised in the Congregational church but rejected its teachings, unable to reconcile God's mercy with the idea of hell. Influenced by the Adventists, he adopted a doctrine of millennialism. He founded the International Bible Students Association in 1872 (renamed Jehovah's Witnesses in 1931) and taught that the final days would come in 1914 and that Christ's kingdom on earth would begin after a war between capitalism and socialism. In 1884 he founded the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society, today one of the world's largest publishers. His books, pamphlets, and periodicals were widely circulated, and he won many converts despite the apparent failure of his apocalyptic prediction.
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