(Photo above courtesy Swarthmore College Peace Collection, Albert Bigelow Papers)
Help Bring Back the Rainbow Warrior’s Granny
Throughout the 1950s, the Marshall Islands were the primary site for nuclear weapons testing by the United States. Those tests were wreaking havoc on the environment and human health. In 1958, a Quaker-inspired mission of nonviolent protest set out for the Marshall Islands in a little sailing ketch called the Golden Rule.
The Golden Rule and her crew never made it to their intended destination. The Coast Guard stopped her in the Hawaiian Islands and arrested everybody on board. But the publicity surrounding the trial and imprisonment of her crew helped to ignite worldwide public outrage against the nuclear tests. By 1963 the Partial Test Ban Treaty was signed, banning nuclear tests in the atmosphere, underwater, and outer space.
It’s no accident that the tactics of the Golden Rule and Greenpeace sound familiar:
It was the mission of the Golden Rule that inspired Marie Bohlen to suggest a similar mission toward the U.S. nuclear test site in the Aleutian Islands. In 1971, the rusty trawler Phyllis Cormack was renamed Greenpeace and pointed north toward her first protest.
Sadly, after the 1958 voyage, the Golden Rule passed from public view. She wound up in Humboldt Bay, California, where she was badly neglected and finally sank in a storm. Now we would like to bring her back. But we can’t do it without help.
We are the Northern California Veterans For Peace, a group of unpaid volunteers who have donated thousands of hours and dollars to peaceful protests. Since 1985, Veterans for Peace has worked to abolish war as an instrument of U.S. national policy, and to do so using entirely nonviolent means. We are opposed to weapons of mass destruction in general, and nuclear arms in particular.
Although none of us were part of the original crew of the Golden Rule, we feel a kinship with those men, their mission, and their boat. When some of our Californian members learned the damaged ketch was nearby, we leaped at the chance to raise her from the depths and restore her to her former peacemaking glory. Thus, the Veterans For Peace Golden Rule Project was born.
Our mission is to fully restore the boat and set out on a ten-year mission around North America. We want to promote a nuclear free future, educate the public about the dangers of radiation to humanity and the environment, and to support peaceful alternatives to war.
This is where you come in. With your help, the Golden Rule will again sail the waves of peace as a living museum and floating classroom, educating future generations on the risks of nuclear technology, the importance of the ocean environment, and most importantly, the making of peace.
Why Those Guys?
The Golden Rule’s original crew are well worth honoring. They stood firm for peace and non-violence before it was popular. Two of them (Albert Bigelow and James Peck) later were among the original 13 Freedom Riders in the U.S. South in 1961 and were badly beaten by racist mobs for their trouble. The other crew members; Orion W. Sherwood, William R. Huntington, and George Willoughby are equally noteworthy. They risked their lives for others, including generations unborn.
What We Need
The restoration is about 70% complete, but we need your help to finish the task if we are to meet our goal to relaunch and rechristen in 2014. If we can raise $40,000 by late spring, we will be splashing the old girl this year. Please check out our Indiegogo campaign.
Thus far, we have raised and frugally spent $80,000. Our financial reports are available on request. Any dollars raised in excess of the costs of restoration will go toward future peacemaking voyages.
Who We Are
While sponsored by Veterans for Peace, the Golden Rule Project is composed of an eclectic mix of environmentalists, peaceniks, and progressives. We are open to anyone interested in working to complete the restoration of the Golden Rule and helping promote its mission. If you are interested in volunteering your time or expertise, please get in touch with us. You can find us here.
Other Ways You Can Help
We deeply appreciate the support of everyone who cares. If you cannot contribute, give us a kick on the social media, and send us an email. With your permission we’ll proudly put your name on our website’s list of supporters.
Fair Winds to All,
Skip and The Golden Rule Committee