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The Woman They Could Not Silence

Author : Kate Moore

Genre : Nonfiction

This is a complicated and brilliantly told true story of Elizabeth Packard. It begins in 1860 just as contentions between the north and south are increasing. She is the mother of six, ages 18 months to 18 years, and has been married to Theophilus for 21 years. He was a Presbyterian minister in Monteno, Illinois. Their characters were opposite: Where Elizabeth was vibrant, sociable, and curious, her husband was gloomy, timorous, and dull.

Neverless, they endured this love strangling process silently, and for the most part uncomplainingly. That is, until she learned of the Women’s Convention in Seneca Falls of 1848 that unleashed a national conversation about the rights of women. Elizabeth realized she had a voice and wanted to express her opinions also. She began to speak out in church, much to the horror of her husband. To put her in her place, he has her committed to an insane asylum, the Illinois State Hospital two hundred miles away.

There she learns that she is not the only sane woman to be committed there, and is in a battle with an even more dangerous overseer of the facility. This is her story, how she manages to maintain civility and improve the lives of women there and later on in the lower level where even more devastation was allowed during the three years she was kept at the asylum. With the help of dear friends, she takes charge of her own life in  spite of those who would silence her, and in turn helps many who had also been silenced and confined against their will.

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