Packard, Elizabeth - Civil Rights Advocate - CENSORSHIP INVADES PACKARD'S LIFE

In the early 1860s, when America was a much-smaller country about to erupt in a Civil War, women had no right to vote and were mostly not allowed to be leaders outside their homes. They could think about fashion—as this illustration from Godey's Fashions for June 1862 depicts—but their free-thinking was often subject to censorship. Such was the situation with Elizabeth Packard (who lived in the State of Illinois).


Worried that a free exchange of ideas in a Bible-study class might run counter to the creeds of their church, local authorities decided to replace Elizabeth Packard's teacher.  Deacon Dole was out; Deacon Smith was in. 

They were two very different men, each leading a very different type of class.  Deacon Dole's class was open-minded; Deacon Smith's class was not.

Mrs. Packard wanted to be sure that her ideas were still acceptable.  (She did not yet know the reason for the change-in-leaders had everything to do with "putting her down.") 

With a new leader in charge, Elizabeth began to write-down her religious-subject thoughts before class.  She then read them to her husband.  He - according to her later accounts - approved her approach and her words.

Until ... Deacon Smith paid a two-hour, secret visit to the Packard home.  What happened during that meeting caused turmoil in Elizabeth's life.

At first, Mrs. Packard did not realize how much trouble she was in.  Her husband said they should talk:

I went into his extended arms, and sat upon his lap, and encircled his neck with my arm, when he remarked in a very mild tone of voice.

"Now wife, hadn't you better give up these Bible class discussions?  Deacon Smith thinks you had better, and so do some others, and I think you had better too."

Elizabeth agreed to leave the class on one condition:  That she could tell her classmates she would no longer attend because "Deacon Smith, and Mr. Packard, and others, have expressed a wish that I withdraw my discussions from the class."

She'd leave, in other words, if she could give the real reason:  "

I do so, at their request, not from any desire to shrink from investigation on my part, but for the sake of peace, as they view it.

That, of course, was not the church-leaders' plan.

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Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5190stories and lessons created

Original Release: Jun 01, 2000

Updated Last Revision: Jun 24, 2019

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"CENSORSHIP INVADES PACKARD'S LIFE" AwesomeStories.com. Jun 01, 2000. Feb 20, 2020.
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