At age 15, Joseph Bates "shipped" on a commercial vessel. For the next twenty-one years he lived the life of a sailor and ship captain. He returned to civilian life in 1828 with a small fortune. During the Advent Awakening, the retired sea captain became a respected evangelist and spiritual leader among the Adventists.
In early 1845, Bates was providentially led to an understanding of the truth concerning the seventh-day Sabbath, and in 1846 he published a 48-page tract on the subject. The respected Captain was the oldest member of our church pioneers, and he became the first Seventh-day Adventist local conference president (Michigan, 1861). He lived to the age of 80.
One reason for his physical endurance, in spite of many sacrifices, was his simple diet and temperate habits. He organized of the first temperance societies in the United States. Bates was a spiritual man with clear-cut views and the courage of a lion. He did not hesitate to sacrifice when the need arose. Let us thank God for the venerable Captain - apostle of the Sabbath truth.