In 1931, Watchtower president Joseph Rutherford wrote that after 1914, 1918 and 1925, Watchtower leaders “learned to quit fixing dates for the future and predicting what would come to pass on a certain date.” (J. F. Rutherford, Vindication, pp. 338-339)

That is, until Watchtower vice president Fred Franz (as he then was) declared that 1975 would be an appropriate time for God to act. (Life Everlasting in Freedom of the Sons of God, 1966, p. 30)

How did that develop?

1. Not only hadn’t Armageddon and Christ’s millennial reign come in 1914, as expected, but the “1914 generation” was aging. Zeal was lagging, and there was no end in sight.

2. In 1943, the Watchtower recalculated and decided that the creation of Adam occurred about 100 years later than they had previously thought, and the “sabbath rest” parallel still seemed attractive.

“From Adam’s creation to the end of 1943 A.D. is 5,971 years. We are therefore near the end of six thousand years of human history.” (The Truth Shall Make You Free, 1943, p. 152)

‘… due to inaccuracies in the King James Bible they wrongly stated 1873 and that the 6,000 years actually ended in 1975.” (See Jehovah’s Witnesses—Proclaimers of God’s Kingdom, 1959 footnote p. 133)

3. The Watchtower wasn’t quite ready to fix a date.

The very fact that, as part of Jehovah’s secret, no one today is able to find out how much time Adam and later Eve lived during the closing days of the sixth creative period, so no one can now determine when six thousand years of Jehovah’s present rest day come to an end. Obviously, whatever amount of Adam’s 930 years was lived before the beginning of that seventh-day rest of Jehovah, that unknown amount would have to be added to the 1976 date. (The Watchtower, February 1, 1955, p. 95)

Of what significance is this today? It means that by the fall of 1963 mankind has dwelt upon this earth 5,988 years. Does this mean, then, that by 1963 we had progressed 5,988 years into the ‘day’ on which Jehovah ‘has been resting from all his work’? (Gen. 2:3) No, for the creation of Adam does not correspond with the beginning of Jehovah’s rest day. Following Adam’s creation, and still within the sixth creative day, Jehovah appears to have been forming further animal and bird creations. Also, he had Adam name the animals, which would take some time, and he proceeded to create Eve… Whatever time elapsed between Adam’s creation and the end of the ‘sixth day’ must be subtracted from the 5,988 years in order to give the actual length of time from the beginning of the ‘seventh day’ until now. It does no good to use Bible chronology for speculating on dates that are still future in the stream of time. (All Scripture is Inspired of God and Beneficial, 1963, page 286)

4. Then Watchtower vice president Fred Franz authored a book focused on 1975.

“…independent study gives the date of man’s creation as 4026 B.C.E. According to this trustworthy Bible chronology six thousand years from man’s creation will end in 1975, and the seventh period of a thousand years of human history will begin in the fall of 1975 C.E. So six thousand years of man’s existence on earth will soon be up, yes within this generation… It would not be by mere chance or accident but would be according to the loving purpose of Jehovah God for the reign of Jesus Christ, the ‘Lord of the sabbath’ to run parallel with the seventh millennium of man’s existence.” (Life Everlasting—In Freedom of the Sons of God, 1966, p. 29-30)

Echoing Rutherford, Franz cited Jubilee cycles and concluded, “Consequently, there is now every reason why the human creation will yet be set free, not by men, but by Almighty God. The long-awaited time for this is at hand!” (Same source, p. 30)

5. The Watchtower stopped short of declaring certainty, but it fanned the flames of apocalyptic fervor.

  • “Just think, 1975 marks the end of 6,000 years of human experience…..Will it be the time when God executes the wicked?….It very well could be, but we will have to wait to see.’ (The Watchtower, January 5, p. 262)
  • “Eight years from the Autumn of 1967 would bring us to the Autumn of 1975, fully 6,000 years into God’s seventh day, his rest day.” (The Watchtower, May 1, 1968, p. 271)


  • “Why Are You Looking Forward To 1975?… What about all this talk concerning the year 1975? Lively discussions, some based on speculation, have burst into flame during recent months among serious students of the Bible. Their interest has been kindled by the belief that 1975 will mark the end of 6,000 years of human history since Adam’s creation. The nearness of such an important date indeed fires the imagination and presents unlimited possibilities for discussion.” (The Watchtower, August 15, 1968, p. 494)
  • “Are we to assume from this study that the battle of Armageddon will be all over by the autumn of 1975, and the long-looked-for thousand-year reign of Christ will begin by then ? Possibly, but we wait to see how closely the seventh thousand-year period of man’s existence coincides with the Sabbath-like thousand-year reign of Christ….It may involve only a difference of weeks or months, not years.” (The Watchtower, August 15, 1968, p. 499)
  • “Soon now six millenniums of his wicked exploiting of mankind as his slaves will end, within the lifetime of the generation that has witnessed world events since the close of the gentile times in 1914 till now, according to the prophetic words of Jesus in Matthew 24:34. Would not, then, the end of six millenniums of mankind’s laborious enslavement under Satan the Devil be the fitting time for Jehovah God to usher in a Sabbath millennium for all his human creatures? Yes, indeed! And his King Jesus Christ will be Lord of that Sabbath.” (The Watchtower, November 15, 1969, pp. 622-623)
  • “If it is his purpose to have this beautification of the whole earth accomplished by the end of his seventh creative day—Scripturally a period of seven thousand years, then the time is near at hand for the ruining of the earth by exploiters to be stopped by theocratic power and the blessed transformation to a delightsome garden to begin. Already, nearly six thousand years of man’s existence from the close of the sixth creative day have run their dreary course. We must be approaching the threshold of that thousand-year-long reign of Jesus Christ, which must be accompanied by Paradise according to what Jesus promised the sympathetic evildoer on the stake there at Mount Calvary.” (Paradise Restored to Mankind—By Theocracy, 1972, p. 18)
  • “Would there be another creative ‘day,’ a seventh ‘day,’ at the close of the ‘morning’ of which the whole earth would be populated with a human family and be a global Paradise? ‘Evening’ of seventh creative ‘day’ begins, 4026 B.C.E.” (God’s Eternal Purpose Now Triumphing For Man’s Good, 1974, p. 51)

6. Midway through 1975, the Watchtower hedged.

“Does this mean that we know exactly when God will destroy this old system and establish a new one? Franz showed that we do not, for we do not know how short the time interval between Adam’s creation and the creation of Eve was, at which point God’s rest day of seven thousand years began.” (The Watchtower, May 1, 1975, p. 285)

But seven years earlier to the day, the Watchtower had said Adam and Eve were most likely created in the same year: “Since it was also Jehovah’s purpose for man to multiply and fill the earth, it is logical that he would create Eve soon after Adam, perhaps just a few weeks or months in the same year—4026 B.C.E.” (The Watchtower, May 1, 1968, p. 271)

7. When 1975 failed, the Watchtower blamed the rank and file.

“…it was not the word of God that failed or deceived him and brought disappointment, but that his own misunderstanding was based on false premises.” (The Watchtower, July 15, 1976, pp. 440-441)

8. In 1980, the Watchtower finally admitted some responsibility.

The Watchtower included all disappointed ones of Jehovah’s Witnesses, hence including persons having to do with the publication of the information that contributed to the buildup of hopes centered on that date.” (The Watchtower, March 15, 1980, pp. 17-18)

9. The Watchtower reiterated the closeness of the end.

“Nevertheless, there is no reason for us to be shaken in faith in God’s promises…. the important thing is not the date. What is important is our keeping ever in mind that there is such a day—and it is getting closer and it will require an accounting on the part of all of us.” (The Watchtower, March 15, 1980, p. 18)