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Modern Persecution, or Married Woman's Liabilities
During the post-Civil Wars years, Elizabeth Packard was one of the key champions of rights for women and people labeled as insane. At this time, men could declare their wives insane and have them institutionalized without a public hearing—a fate that befell Elizabeth Packard in 1860. She spent three years in the Illinois State Hospital in Jacksonville, for disagreeing with her husband’s conservative religious philosophy, views on slavery, and how to raise their children.
In 1863, the asylum doctors declared her incurable and released her to her husband. He deprived her of clothing and boarded her up inside a room, actions that were illegal. She smuggled a letter to a friend, who convinced a judge to grant a writ of habeus corpus. At the trial of Packard v. Packard, the jury decided in her favor in only seven minutes.
After gained her freedom, Packard became an activist for women’s rights and personal liberty. Her writings inspired Illinois and several other states to pass laws that prevented husbands declaring their wives insane and that required jury trials before people could be committed.
This sum I could not, of course, borrow, neither could I get a publisher to print it, at his own risk.
I therefore concluded to publish only an Introductory volume, of about one hundred and fifty pages, trusting that by the sale of this I might raise enough in time to print the entire volume.
"But how could I print even this, without one dollar for a capital to work upon?"
This was a problem which cost me much study before I found its solution. But I did, at last, find a satisfactory solution in the following devise.
I found, in the judgment of Chicago publishers, it would cost me five hundred dollars to print one thousand copies; but did not close a contract until I was sure my plan to raise this money would succeed, which was, to sell tickets for the unpublished book, on the promise that I would redeem these tickets in a specified time, by exchanging each ticket for a book worth the price of the ticket. A week's trial convinced me it would take just about three months to raise this money at the rate of my present sales.
My tickets were printed and read thus:
"The Bearer is Entitled to the first Volume of Mrs. Packard's Book, Entitled 'The Great Drama, or The Millennial Harbinger.' Price fifty cents. None are genuine without my signature."
E. P. W. Packard.
To cover all expenses, I found I must raise seven hundred dollars, by the sale of one thousand four hundred tickets, in three months. To sell these tickets for money was no easy task.
I must first inspire in my patron sufficient confidence in my veracity, ability, and perseverance, to induce him to pay out fifty cents for a ticket, simply upon the promise of a stranger, that it should be redeemed in three months by a book as yet unprinted -- and that the publication of this book must depend upon the sale of fourteen hundred tickets.
I sold these mostly in country villages, on the railroads. Upon arriving, my first business would be to secure a reliable agent, who would engage to receive my books when published, and deliver them to the ticket holders, who would call there for them. I would then seek for patrons, telling them that at such a time the boobs would be in the hands of this agent who would give them a book on the presentation of their ticket. The Post-master, or some prominent Bookseller were usually employed as my agents.
After I had canvassed one place I would go to another and pursue the same course there, and so on, until I had sold fourteen hundred tickets.
My board, car fare, and all other expenses, I paid from the money realized from the sale of my tickets and small books. Never in these days of struggle did I ask for charity, neither would I receive it, by way of free car rides, or a night's lodging, or food, or money. I almost invariably stopped at hotels instead of private boarding houses. I sometimes had offers of money, as a gift, instead of buying tickets, which was always indignantly refused, claiming that I was not an object of charity, but was doing business on a business basis, and was, therefore, very grateful for patronage, but not for gifts, as an object of charity.
I felt an invincible determination to demonstrate my self-supporting capacities by actual proof -- that of stubborn facts.
Encouraged by my sales, and sure of ultimate success, I returned to Chicago to contract for the printing of my book -- but to my surprise found there had been a great and sudden inflation in the price of paper and labor, since giving their former estimates, so that it would be impossible now to get it done for much less than seven hundred dollars instead of five hundred dollars.
Finding the book would now cost me seventy-five cents instead of fifty cents, I was in quite a sad dilemma not knowing how to meet it, since I had promised my patrons the book for fifty cents, and could not forfeit my word.
Upon inquiry, I found the next edition could be printed for about one-third the cost of this after the stereotyped plates were paid for. I therefore continued to sell my tickets for the same price, depending upon the profits of the second edition, compensate for the losses of the first. Thus, by selling two thousand tickets I was not only free from debt, but had my capital -- my stereotyped plates -- paid for.
Thus I redeemed every ticket and had my book paid for in three months, having raised a capital of seven hundred dollars by the sale of one thousand four hundred tickets.
Besides my tickets, I sold small books of my own, from ten to twenty-five cents in value, which about covered my traveling expenses. Fifteen months from this date I had sold twelve thousand books.
But selling these tickets and books was but a small part of the obstacles and difficulties to be overcome and surmounted in order to establish my business. Delay in commencing my book according to agreement, caused me much solicitude lest I should not meet my promise to my patrons. After three weeks delay I was therefore greatly relieved when the mail brought me my first proof-sheets at Bloomington.