(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.