It is little known by most members of the Stone-Campbell Movement (Churches of Christ, Disciples of Christ, Christian Churches, and their myriad modern offshoots) that in the decades before the Civil War, nearly every leader in the Stone-Campbell Reformation was interested in the Millennium. Most of them were postmillennialists, believing that the second coming of Christ will be delayed until after the completion of the millennium. The millennium is a period when the world will be governed by Christian principles rathen than an era in which Christ will literally reign on earth for a thousand years; it will be gradually introduced by the triumph of the church over the wickedness of the world rather than a literal reapperance of the Lord. In such a worldview, progress and optimism are inherent.
All the early leaders who published religious newspapers addressed the millennium in their publications.
Prior to 1830 both Barton Warren Stone (1772-1844) and Alexander Campbell (1788-1866) linked their religious efforts at reform with the eventual spiritual and social regeneration of the world.
Alexander Campbell actually named his second periodical the Millennial Harbinger. From the "Prospectus" of the Millennial Harbinger Vol. I:
THIS work shall be devoted to the destruction of Sectarianism, Infidelity, and Antichristian doctrine and practice. It shall have for its object the developement, and introduction of that political and religious order of society called THE MILLENNIUM, which will be the consummation of that ultimate amelioration of society proposed in the Christian Scriptures.
By the 1830s a number of Stone-Campbell leaders had become premillennialists-including Barton Warren Stone and Walter Scott (1796-1861). But I should say here that the Stone-Campbell premillennialism was classical premillennialism, not the modern dispensational premillennialism (of Hal Lindsay, John Hagee and Tim LaHaye) first espoused by English Pastor John Darby (1800-1882) in the 1830s.They were at first very impressed with Baptist pastor and founder of Seventh Daty Adventism William Miller's (1782-1849) apocalytpic prophecies however when Miller's prophecies failed twice most of them reverted back to their earlier postmillennialism. But millennial speculation continued in Churches of the Stone-Campbell Movement up through the 1860s, in papers such as Moses Lard's (1818-1880) Lard's Quarterly. In the late 19th/early 20th centuries, David Lipscomb (1831-1917), James A. Harding (1848-1922) and their student Robert H. Boll (1875-1956), expressed this counter-cultural, apocalyptic worldview better than anyone else, at a time when the movement as a whole, esp. in Churches of Christ in the South, was increasingly headed towards legalism, dogmatism and a strict rationalism which downplayed the miraculous. RH Boll and his churches remained premillennial until the 1950s, despite efforts by Foy Wallace (1896-1979) RL Whiteside (1869-1951) and others, to stamp out their premillennialism as "false doctrine."
Campbell was very occupied with the millennium. So much so that, not only did he name his second paper to draw attention to its near advent, but he wrote many articles, including a series entitled "Millennium."
Campbell's eschatology affected his social and political views, causing him to be a pacifist-though he did support capital punishment-and though originally ambivalent towards Christian involvement in politics, his views on that subject had softened by the late 1840s. Campbell also was vocally opposed to slavery (albeit on ethical and social grounds rather than scriptural grounds as he argued that scripture doesn't condemn slavery) and stood vocally opposed to the US' 1830 Indian Removal Act which relocated the Five Civilized Tribes to Indian Territory (now Oklahoma) in the 1830s. Nevertheless, Campbell also linked the progress of the millennium with what he viewed as the progressive future of the American nation. He believed the fate of the world rested on America. He wrote:
To Protestant America and Protestant England the world must look for its emancipation from the most heartless spiritual despotism that ever . . . degraded mankind. This is our special mission in the world as a nation and as a people; and for this purpose the Ruler of nations has raised us up and made us the wonder and the admiration of the world. - "Address on the Destiny of Cour Country," from Popular Lectures and Addresses, 1863, p. 174.
Campbell's emphasis on the millennium weakened by the 1840s, as he saw that his dreams of a united Christendom which would hasten the evangelization of the world and the advent of the millennium didn't occur. But he remained deicated to pacifism and social justice.
Tolbert Fanning (1810-1874) another leader among Southern churches of the Stone-Campbell Reformation, founder of Franklin Academy and teacher of David Lipscomb, and co-founder with Lipscomb's brother of the Gospel Advocate, was actually arrested and convicted of treason for his pacifism.
David Lipscomb actually published a book called Civil Government, in which he urged Christian non-involvement in war and politics, believing all man-made governments were usurpations of God's government, hence Christians owed allegiance only to God's kingdom. They were to live peacably within a country and obey its laws where those did not violated God's Word, but should not get tangled up in poltics or that nations wars; Jesus said to turn the other cheek, so Christians had no business taking lives. Lipscomb's associate and co-founder of their Nashville Bible School (NBS) James A. Harding shared these views. These two leaders via their school trained a whole generation of ministers in churches of Christ in the South. Lipscomb's views were mainstream in his day but by the 1940s considered heretical by leaders like Foy E. Wallace, Jr. in the 1930s and 40s, and anyone owning a copy of Civil Government was encouraged to burn it.
WWII was the turning point for many in the CoC. Leaders like RL Whiteside and Foy Wallace, Jr. considered pacifists to be not only unscriptual, but traitors to America.
For more information see:
Doug Foster, Paul M. Blowers, Anthony L. Dunnavant, et. al., The Encyclopedia of the Stone-Campbell Movement
David Edwin Harrell's A Social History of the Disciples of Christ: Quest for a Christian America, 1800-1865 Vol 1
A Social History of the Disciples of Christ Vol 2; Sources of Division in the Disciples of Christ, 1865-1900
John Mark Hicks' and Bobby Valentine's Kingdom Come: Embracing the Spiritual Legacy of David Lipscomb and James Harding
Richard Hughes' Reviving the Ancient Faith: The Story of Churches of Christ in America
Craig Watts' Disciple of Peace: Alexander Campbell on Pacifism, Violence and the State