Packard, Elizabeth - Civil Rights Advocate - HUMILIATION of ELIZABETH PACKARD

This illustration of the scene—entitled Enforcing The "Nonentity" Principle—is from Modern Persecution, Elizabeth Packard's 1873 book about her travails (Volume I, page 245). The caption for this image is Take Mrs. Packard up in your arms, and carry her to the 'bus!" (See page 389 of Modern Persecution.) The individuals who are carrying Elizabeth out of her home are doing so at the explicit direction of Packard's husband (seen as a supervisor in the illustration).


One way to end the issue of his wife's free-thinking ways was to have Elizabeth leave town.  It was early June, in 1860, and Theophilus Packard proposed that his wife visit her brother, in Batavia, for three months.

Surprised, at first, by her husband's suggestion, Elizabeth wondered who would care for their children?  Who would make their summer clothes, if she were away for so long?

Theophilus assured his wife those issues would be properly managed.  And ... agreeing that Elizabeth could take two of their flu-recovering children with her ... Packard sensed the details were becoming acceptable to both of them.  Then ... Mrs. Packard asked for money.

It wasn't much, her request for funds.  Ten dollars is what she thought reasonable for three months away.  Her husband, however, refused to give her any money at all.

One can only imagine the scene which thereafter erupted in the Packard home.  Let's listen-in to their conversation (which Elizabeth reported, years later, in The Hidden Prisoners' Life):

Well, husband, if I can't be trusted with ten dollars of my own money under these circumstances, I should not think I was capable of being trusted with two sick children three months away from home, wholly dependent on a poor brother's charities.  Indeed I had rather stay at home and not go at all, than go under such circumstances.

Elizabeth was not prepared for what happened next:

You shall not go at all...You shall go into an Asylum! ... You have lost your last chance.  You shall go into an Asylum!

Could such a thing really happen?

Worried about what could happen to her, Elizabeth sought the advice of her neighbor, a lawyer.  Mr. Comstock assured her that she could not be tossed-into an asylum without due process.  She would first be entitled to a jury trial.  Mr. Comstock was also sure about something else:

... I can assure you there is no jury in the country who would pronounce you to be an insane person, for you give every evidence of intelligence that any person can give.

Lawyer Comstock, however, was ignorant of the law.

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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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"HUMILIATION of ELIZABETH PACKARD" AwesomeStories.com. Jun 01, 2000. Feb 20, 2020.
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