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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.
But when the bridge connecting the natural and spiritual worlds is constucted, and the few remaining tiers are built, the public will easily be transported over the river of doubt and uncertainty, which now surrounds the incipient developments of a new spiritual science. In other words, the great truth underlying the agitation of the subject of Magnetism, Electricity, Psychology, and Spiritualism is being developed into a spiritual science, the laws of which, future generations may be able to apply with as much certainty as to the result as the present ago depends upon steam as a locomotive power. When these remaining tiers are built, or these secret spirit laws are generally understood, the age will pass as readily into the realm of spirit forces for help, as we now pass from continent to continent by the help of steam power.
On my recruiting tour to my friends in New York State, about two years and a-half before my incarceration, I then and there saw for the first time in my life a manifestation of modern Spiritualism.
One evening, at the house of my cousin, Dr. Fordice Rice, of Cazenovia, N. Y., while sitting with his family around the table, sewing and listening to his reading, one of our party, a very intelligent minister's wife, interrupted us by suddenly dropping her needle, and with a very perceptible shiver of her whole frame, exclaiming:
"There is a spirit here wishing to communicate some message!"
This announcement not only astonished, but frightened me to such a degree as led me to exclaim with a trembling voice and deep emotion:
"What does this mean?"
My cousin, Mrs. Laura P. Rice, replied:
"There is nothing to fear, cousin Elizabeth, this is nothing new to us. I will get aunt Sophronia a pencil and paper and she will write out the message sent to us."
While getting the stationery, the table around which we were sitting, commenced tipping towards me, and in the gentlest manner actually tipped so far as to rest lightly upon my lap. At this point my fears so triumphed, I burst into tears. The table quietly assumed its former position, when the medium wrote the following sentence:
"Don't be frightened! My Daughter! We are your friends, come to communicate with you, and help you."
Said I, "Please carry out your programme. I have no desire or wish to interrupt you."
A silence ensued, while the medium proceeded to write as follows:
"My Daughter, you did right to come this journey. You needed the rest of body and refreshment of spirit it is to impart. I accompanied you here -- was with you on your journey. And I approve of your seeking council of Hon. Gerrit Smith, as is your intention to do next Saturday. Your purpose and spirit will be strengthened by communion with his capacious soul. And, my Daughter, you need all these helps to fit and prepare you for the great work God in his providence has assigned you.
"You are living in a very dark, benighted community. You are to become a light to this community and a blessing to many others.
"But my child, prepare for Persecution! Persecution! Persecution!!
"For it must come. No power can prevent it. But, fear not! We stand by you. You will be sustained by these unseen powers, who are using you as their chosen instrument for great good to humanity. Be careful to 'try the spirits' -- 'Prove all things -- hold fast that which is good.'
LUCY STRONG PARSONS WARE."
Not a person in the room knew my mother's name, except myself, and although I recollected always seeing her signature, "Lucy S. Ware," I could not have told what the "S" meant. Parsons was her family name before marriage.
On the following Saturday afternoon, while in conversation with Mr. and Mrs. Smith in their parlor, in Peterborough, New York, a similar interruption took place. Here another and a different medium took a pencil, and while writing her message I continued, in a very low, quiet tone of voice, to converse with Mrs. Smith, and as I made the remark, "I think it unfortunate for me that the light of new truths should dawn upon my mind prior to that of Mr. Packard's, for it seems to me a reversion of God's order, for the weaker vessel to lead the stronger," the medium laughed outright, and remarked:
"I have made a strange episode!" reading: "Weaker vessel! When you pass from this to the spirit world, then you will see which is the Weaker vessel!"
Upon reading what preceded this exclamation, we found the following: "Sister, prepare for Opposition! Opposition!! Opposition!!! for it will come.
"Brother's mind is in darkness. His spirit gropes in regions where the light cannot enter. His Theology is the snare into which he has been taken captive by false doctrines. Entrenched as he is by false theories and insane dogmas he cannot extricate himself. Therefore, pity him! but fear not to expose the errors of his creed, for these false doctrines must be overthrown to prepare the way for the teachings of Christ.