William David Upshaw was born on October 15, 1866, near Atlanta, Georgia. He served in Congress during the late 1910's and throughout the 1920's, and ran for the office of the President for the Prohibition Party in 1932. At the age of 84, 66 years after becoming a paraplegic, William Branham saw a vision of Congressman Upshaw walking. He was instantly healed, and had full use of his legs for the remainder of his life.
Discrepancies between Upshaw and Branham
The picture of William Upshaw that has been painted into the minds of William Branham's followers is that of a frail, old man who was destined to a crippled life in a wheelchair. William Branham often mentions how the Congressman was so bad off that he had to be wheeled around, carried on beds, and practically unable to function.
But in the newspapers, we find Upshaw travelling around in convoys of automobiles, walking around freely using his crutches, and speaking to multiple audiences per day -- both for policical speeches and evangelistic sermons.
So it appears that Congressman Upshaw's healing may not have been quite as miraculous as it was described by William Branham.
Additionaly, there is a significant concern with the huge changes in the story over time as it was told by William Branham.
In Congressman Upshaw's testimony, William Branham never speaks to him or even acknowledges him. The message that he is healed is delivered by Brother Leroy Kopp.
William Branham's testimony (1951) is initially in basic agreement with that of the Congressman. However, by 1954 it had changed to to the point that there is a vision of a brown suit and a wired microphone is run back to the Congressman to allow him to have a conversation with William Branham from the pulpit. Leroy Kopp's part in the miracle is completely eliminated as William Branham himself told the Congressman over the pulpit - "THUS SAITH THE LORD, you're healed."
Why did a real miracle from God require embellishment?
The tract written by Congressman Upshaw
Shortly before his death on November 21, 1952 at age 86, William Upshaw published his testimony in a tract which he sent to every Senator and member of the House of Representatives, as well as President Truman, Winston Churchill, King George, and Joseph Stalin.
The following are excerpts from the tract written by Congressman William D. Upshaw:
- I walked into that Branham-Baxter meeting in Calvary Temple, Los Angeles, loving God and His blessed Word, leaning on my crutches that had been my “buddies”-my helpful comrades for 59 of my 66 years as a cripple-7 of those years spend on bed; I walked out that night of February 8th, leaving my crutches on the platform – the song of deliverance ringing in my heart in happy consonance with the should sof victory from those who thronged about me – their tears of rejoicing crystal with the light of the skies’ chief among them was my blessed wife whose dear face, glowing amid her joyous exclamations: “Praise the Lord” and “Glory to God,” was beaming like a patch of Heaven.
- …Then came God’s humble Bible Prophet, William Branham – and that “Boanerges Son of Thunger” (who can out-“Hollywood” Hollywood, and never get away from Calvary) Ern Baxter – making one of the greatest evangelistic Bible teams that has ever blessed the world since Paul and Barnabas laid the pillars of God’s Kingdom on the shores of Tiberius and the Mediterranean. We had looked forward to hearing “Billy” Branham – knowing that his ministry to be mightily blessed of the Lord-; but we were not prepared for Baxter – that indescribable combustion of wit and wisdom, and enriching Bible interpretation, who is an imperative John the Baptist, preparing the way for Branham. I sat entranced, still praying for “appropriating faith,” but holden, somehow, of that contact – and that contract with the Lord sixty odd years ago. Others were being healed all around me. Then Brother Branham lifted his hands saying: “Everyone lay your hands on your loved one as we pray.” A great volume of prayer ascended throughout the audience of more than three thousand. Angels were hovering near! I knew my blessed wife and her “prayer warriors” were wrapping me in prayer. I remembered how she said, “When you are trying to lead a sinner to accept Christ you say; “Accept – confess Christ and step out – He will do the rest and bring the joy of answered prayer’.” It was the touchstone. Just hen Brother Branham, exhausted, was carried from the platform. Brother LeRoy Kopp, Calvary Temple’s golden-hearted pastor, came back to the pulpit and said: “Brother Branham says ‘The Congressman is healed’.” My heart leaped. I stepped out and accepted the Lord as my Healer. I laid aside my crutches and started toward the startled Pastor and my happy, shouting wife – and the bottom of Heaven fell out!
- ...Now at eighty-four, plus, with no gray hairs, without my boon companions, my helpful crutches of fifty-nine years, I begin a new life, joyously testifying that the Saviour, Jesus Christ, the Great Physician Who said: “I am the resurrection and the l-i-f-e,” can not only save the souls of wicked men and women, but heal the sick, the maimed, the deaf, the dumb and blind (March 9:27-29)…
- A few days after my wonderful deliverance, dear Brother Branham said to me: “Brother Upshaw, I feel like the best part of your life is before you – fortified and stimulated by this new evangel of your Divine healing, and I hope you will cover the nation.”
Audio Recording of Congressman Upshaw sharing his testimony
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Just eighty-four. And I'm eighty-four years young, speak three and four times a day, preach the Gospel of the Christ Who saved me, stood by me on bed seven years, and made me happy, and then took me off of the crutches that I have used for fifty-nine years and now, glory to God I'm walking! [clapping]
Remember, I'm sending this folder to every congressman, and senator, the president, and his wife, and now sending this week to the King of England for whom he prayed, and Winston Churchill. And I'm going to send one to Joseph Stalin. God have mercy on his soul!
William Branham's version of the healing
William Branham retold the story of Congressman Upshaw's healing many times. However, over time the story changed considerably so that by 1954 it included a vision of a brown suit, and a "Thus Saith The Lord" statement spoken by Brother Branham to William Upshaw directly over the pulpit, and not as communicated by Brother LeRoy Kopp.
Initially the story that William Branham tells is very close to the testimony of Congressman Upshaw.
- And one night, I walked into the platform here. Mr. Baxter had just left the platform. I looked, hanging right out here, and I seen the White House, seen all about it. Begin to speak, and I couldn't tell. And I told Mr. Baxter. In a few moments, It fell and I seen where the man was setting. I seen it was him, seen him get hurt when he was just a little boy. And he'd been a crippled for all...
- And I started to leave and the Spirit of God begin to fall. And a woman had raised out of a wheelchair, and some more things had taken place where the Holy Spirit revealing to them.
- And as I started, Mr. Kopp here, the... Brother Kopp, the pastor run up there. And I said, "Go tell the congressman that God has healed him. I seen him, going walking away."
But three years later, it had already changed considerably.
- And I looked. And coming in, they just got off of an airplane. And here come a wheelchair. They'd just got inside the building and it begin come... It was moving on down to get it with the rest of wheelchairs. I said, "That's the old gentleman now." It was about twice the distance of this building. I said, "That's the old man now."
- And he was weeping so, I went ahead and told my brother to call the prayer line. And so we begin to get them lined up, and so the next thing taking place, why, they had an extension mike here, and Mr. Baxter said, "Brother Branham," said--said, "That old man that you were speaking to is the Congressman of the United States. It's William D. Upshaw."
- I said, "I don't know who he was."
- He said, "He wants to speak to you through this mike."
- And he said, "My son, how did you know that I fell and hurt myself when I was a boy?"
- I said, "I can't tell you, sir. I've never heard of you in my life. I'm sorry."
- "And he said, "Well, I was the president of the Southern Baptist Convention." said, "Dr. Davis, the one that ordained you in the Baptist church, was the one who sent me here to see you."
- "I said, "I am acquainted with Dr. Davis."
- "He said, "I been prayed for." said, "I've been a invalid in this wheelchair for sixty-six years." And he said, "I'm eighty-six years old now." And he said, "I have trusted God, since I was seventeen years old when I was hurt to heal me." Said, "Do you think I will ever be healed?"
- "I said, "I could not tell you, sir." I said, "I can only say what I See?"
- "He said, "God bless you, my boy."
- "And I said, "Thank you, kind sir." And I turned this a way and when I did, my brother, being the chief usher in the meetings, was getting the people lined up down there.
- And as I looked, I seen that old congressman, like a shadow, going walking like that. And he was setting there with a blue suit on and a red tie. Only in the vision he had a brown suit, a kind of a chocolate colored brown, with a white stripe in it. And I said, "Congressman, have you got a brown suit with a white stripe?"
- He said, "My son, I just bought one yesterday."
- I said, "You have been a very reverent man and it--has honored God all these years. And through the honoring of God and believing God, God has... rewarding you now, to give your last days happy. You can walk Congressman. The Lord Jesus Christ has healed you, THUS SAITH THE LORD."
- He said, "When will I be able to walk, my boy?"
- And I said, "Right now, Congressman." And up he jumped from that chair, threw aside... He had big crutches that went up over his shoulders, when they'd stand him up; it was like Mister Roosevelt, I... like that, in his back.
Here again is the wildly embellished story in 1958:
- How many remembers the healing of Congressman Upshaw? I was just standing there talking like this when there's thousands of people standing there, and they was fixing to line up, and I looked out. I'd seen an old man, and they'd been a many a wheelchair, oh, there was just wheelchairs all over the places in California. And I looked across, and I seen a little boy playing on a haystack, and he fell and hit his back across a--the edge of a frame. And it must've broke his back. I seen a doctor with little glasses hanging low on his nose, white mustache and white hair, a working on him but it was no good, too far gone. And I seen them boring holes in the house so that the people walking in, it wouldn't vibrate on the floor. He was so bad. And that's the only thing I can say is what I'm looking at.
- And just then, I seen there come a great man, a famous speaker, and the vision left. And I looked around; I couldn't find him. And they'd just brought him in, I think, by a plane. And I said, "There's the old man setting right there now." And his wife was down with him. He's eighty-six years old, been in a wheelchair for sixty-six years. And there he was, and bowing down. And to you Baptist tonight, you surely ought to know him. He was the Vice President of Southern Baptist Convention.
- So when he a... And he said, "My son, how did you ever know that I fell on a hay frame?"
- I said, "Sir, I didn't know."
- He said, "It has to come from God, for that is the same type of doctor that operated on me which has been gone for years." He said, "And no minister anywhere..." Said, and they told me, said, "It's Congressman Upshaw."
- Well, I didn't... He might've said somebody from India. I wouldn't knowed any different 'cause I didn't know no Congressman. And so Mr. Baxter said, "That's Congressman Willie D. Upshaw."
- I said, "I never heard of him."
- So he said, "Will I be healed, my son?"
- I said, "Sir, I don't know. The only thing I can say is what I see."
- And I said, "Have you got the prayer line ready?"
- And the boys down there said, "Just about." They started a woman up.
- ...And just as I turned, I seen the old Congressman with a brown pin striped suit on. He wore a blue suit with a red tie at the time. He was going right over the tops of the heads of the people. He was very southern hospitality, going along, going like this.
- I said, "Congressman," (they run the address system to him quickly). And I said, "Haven't you got a brown pin striped suit?" He said, "My son, I just bought one yesterday."
- I said, "THUS SAITH THE LORD. It looks like that God would've healed you when you were about seventeen years old and your bones all young to wait till you're eighty-six and then heal you." But I said, "He's healed you, Congressman."
- He said, "Do you mean to say, my son, that I can rise from this chair?"
- I said, "In Jesus' Name, come here." And that man, being bound to his... When they raised him up like President Roosevelt, with those great, big things over him (braces) and he walked. You know how he walked, if you knew him. And he threw those down, raised from his wheelchair, run to the platform and touched his toes like that, and stand up as a real man. And it's...?... the nation.
A Brief Biography of William Upshaw
At the age of 18, William Upshaw lost the use of his legs as the result of a farming accident, and spent the next seven years in bed. Shortly before his accident, he had given his heart to the Lord Jesus. From his bed, William began to write a column of poems and inspirational letters for a local newspaper called Sunny South, using the pen name `Earnest Willie.' His calm manner and gifted style of writing soon endeared him to the hearts of his readers. He was encouraged to publish his writings in a book, which he did, titling it "Earnest Willie, or, Echoes From A Recluse."
In one of his articles he wrote:
- "I do believe in being deeply in earnest. It is the very passion of my soul. Earnestness is the secret of nearly every man's success, and it is the lever that persistently pushes to completion nearly every movement for reform, whether it be great or small. Let a minister of Christ or any other speaker convince me first - aye, all the people who hear him - that he is in earnest - that his very heart and soul are in his work, and then he may break the rules of grammar if he wants to, just so he breaks and blesses human hearts."
Using the funds from his writing, William Upshaw entered Mercer University in 1895. In 1918, he was elected to the U. S. House of Representatives as a Democrat. He was re-elected in 1920, 1922, and 1924. William Upshaw ran for President of the United States for the Prohibition party in 1932, but returned to lecturing after his defeat.
- ↑ Sermon: Testimony: Los Angeles, California, May 9, 1951
- ↑ MY.COMMISSION_ LA.CA SATURDAY_ 51-0505
- ↑ JESUS ON THE AUTHORITY OF THE WORD WOOD RIVER, IL 54-0217
- ↑ THE.QUEEN.OF.THE.SOUTH_ SOUTH.BEND.IN SATURDAY_ 58-0208