Packard, Elizabeth - Civil Rights Advocate - Summary


Can you imagine being sent to an insane asylum just because your husband says you are insane? Of course not, but in 1864 this happens to Elizabeth Packard of Manteno, IL.

The event occurs at the same time Abraham Lincoln is trying to free America's slaves. Elizabeth is an outspoken woman in a time when women have children, obey their husbands and generally only do the things which society expects from them.

She is fortunate to attend a Bible-study class where she is encouraged to speak her mind on religion and other topics. Her church leaders, however, decide that an open exchange of ideas might run counter to church teachings. So ... church leaders and Theophilus Packard, Elizabeth’s husband, want her to leave the class.

Elizabeth says she will leave the class under one condition:  She can tell people she is leaving at the request of the church and her husband, and not of her own volition.

Theophilus becomes determined to send Elizabeth away, but he won’t give her money or let her take their children, so she refuses to leave. Theophilus commits her to an insane asylum. In Illinois, as in several other states, a husband can say his wife is insane and the State will agree.

A neighboring lawyer tells her she has the right to a jury trial, but he is incorrect.

When Elizabeth refuses to leave her home and her children, men carry her out of the house. They place her on a train bound for Jacksonville State Hospital for the Insane where she is set to spend the next three years of her life. Theophilus does not even tell the children; they come home to find their mother gone.

Elizabeth’s son convinces authorities to release his mother from Jacksonville, but Theophilus locks her up in the family's home. This is against the law. Set free under a Writ of Habeas Corpus, Elizabeth files suit and wins, even though the jury is all-male. Her husband is not finished, however.  When she returns home, the house is empty and the children are gone.

Find out where Elizabeth goes to live and how she finally gets her children back. Discover that out-spoken Elizabeth is also a writer who tells of her life in the books, including Modern Persecution, which help to change mental health and women’s rights laws in 34 states.

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Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5155stories and lessons created

Original Release: Jun 01, 2000

Updated Last Revision: Nov 09, 2016

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"Packard, Elizabeth - Civil Rights Advocate" AwesomeStories.com. Jun 01, 2000. Sep 23, 2018.
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