Hannah Whitall Smith(1832 - 1911)

Author, Evangelist

Hannah Tatum Whitall Smith was a lay speaker and author in the Holiness movement in the United States and the Higher Life movement in Great Britain. She was also active in the Women’s Suffrage movement and the Temperance movement.

Smith was from a long line of prominent and influential Quakers in New Jersey. Hannah Tatum Whitall was the daughter of John Mickle Whitall and Mary Tatum Whitall. Her most famous ancestor was Ann Cooper Whitall.

On November 5, 1851 Hannah married Robert Pearsall Smith, a man who also descended from a long line of prominent Quakers in the region. The Smiths settled in Germantown, Pennsylvania.

The Smiths were highly influenced by Methodist revivalists. They adopted the Wesleyan doctrine of sanctification. They were also influenced by William E. Boardman, who wrote The Higher Christian Life (1859).

From 1864 to 1868 Robert and Hannah Smith lived in Millville, New Jersey. Robert managed Hannah’s father’s business, the Whitall, Tatum, & Company glass factories.

William Boardman apparently groomed Robert and Hannah Smith to join the Holiness movement as speakers. From 1873-1874 they spoke at various places in England, including Oxford, teaching on the subjects of the “higher life” and “holiness.” In 1874 Hannah helped found the Women’s Christian Temperance Union. Also in 1874 the Smiths traveled to Germany and Switzerland, where they preached in several major cities. In 1875 they returned to England and conducted meetings in Brighton. Due to an unspecified scandal involving Robert, their visit to England came to an abrupt halt.

Hannah Whitall Smith’s book The Christian’s Secret of a Happy Life (1875) is an extremely popular book of Christian mysticism and practical Holiness theology. It is still widely read today.

She had seven children in all, but only three—Mary, Alys Pearsall, and Logan Pearsall—survived to adulthood. ---From Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia


Hannah's Smith's spiritual journey, as she shares in her autobiography, "The Unselfishness of God" is a fascinating read, that still has application for the contemporary Christian. She shares how she came from legalistic and mystical Quakerism, to a solid "Romans Road" approach to salvation as she learned from the Plymouth Brethren, and on into her own growth as a teacher in the Body of Christ. Her book, "The Christian's Secret of a Happy" life was a tremendous bestseller in its day, and its timeless truths remain a blessing to many today.

Although the first editions of "The Unselfishness of God" contained several chapters on Hannah's revelation of the restoration of all things, and her biblical universalism, subsequent printings have edited out those chapters.

Please click here to read Hannah Smith's testimony in her own words:

The Unselfishness of God and How I Discovered It

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