Restoring the Golden Rule

by Guest Blogger

January 23, 2015

Veterans For Peace is working to restore the Golden Rule, the world’s first anti-nuclear peace boat. In 1958, her brave crew of Quakers and pacifists risked their lives and freedom to nonviolently confront nuclear testing on the high seas. By restoring the Golden Rule, Veterans for Peace will be able to honor their legacy and continue their mission.

The Story

Horrified by the ongoing, open-air nuclear bomb tests and the threat of nuclear war, the four-man crew sailed the Golden Rule from California toward the Marshall Islands. Their intention, publicized around the world, was to nonviolently place their bodies in the way of planned nuclear bomb blasts. As they sailed from Honolulu harbor for the testing area, the voyagers were stopped and arrested by the U.S. Coast Guard. Guided by their conscience, the crew attempted to sail again, were arrested once more and detained in the Honolulu city jail until the conclusion of the test cycle.

I sense that most of us feel overwhelmed by a disintegrating world, seemingly beyond our control….at the same time, we have the potential to preserve and enhance our delicate, beautiful planet and create on it a society of respect, sharing, and caringwhere love will not be considered a sign of weakness.

– Albert Bigelow

The Legacy

The publicity surrounding their trial and imprisonment helped ignite public outrage against nuclear weapons testing and alerted the world to the health hazards of nuclear fallout. Five years and many protests later, the Partial Test Ban Treaty of 1963 was enacted, banning above-ground nuclear testing by the two Superpowers.

The courageous voyage of the Golden Rule and her crew inspired a similar anti-nuclear voyage in 1971 by the group that would eventually become Greenpeace.

After the Golden Rule‘s crew was released from jail in 1958, the boat was sold. Many owners and half a century later, it ended up in northern California’s Humboldt Bay, neglected and damaged, finally sinking in a storm.

The Golden Rule can continue to be an inspiration for the protection of the environment and active peacemaking. But first, we’ve got to get her back in the water.

Golden Rule - 3

Golden Rule - 2

The Golden Rule Project

When the Veterans for Peace learned that this irreplaceable icon of history had literally washed up on their doorstep, they formed the Golden Rule Project and set about the restoration of both the boat and her mission.

With the gracious help of many talented volunteers and generous donations from around the world, the restoration is 85% complete. But, to get the Golden Rule back on the water now requires some large capital expenses like sails, electronic navigation equipment and specialized labor.

Golden Rule - 3

Golden Rule - 4

About the Golden Rule Project

Although the Golden Rule Project receives support from a diverse collection of people and groups, Veterans For Peace is the sponsoring organization. they share common values and goals, and most Golden Rule Committee members belong to Veterans For Peace.

The Golden Rule Project is committed to ending arms races and abolishing nuclear weapons, illuminating the true costs of war, and finally abolishing war as an instrument of national policy.

The Golden Rule Project and Veterans For Peace are equally concerned about the state of the environment, and the impact of military activities upon it. In fact, we see peacemaking and the environment as being inextricably intertwined. After all, the US Department of Defense is the world’s number one polluter.

The Golden Rule Project is likewise fully committed to the use of nonviolent means. The Quaker-inspired original crew of the Golden Rule pioneered the use of nonviolent direct action, and the restored boat will proudly carry that message.

The Golden Rule Project is also supported by a number of Quakers, as was the original voyage, along with many other people of faith. A number of Humboldt County businesses have been most generous with their support. Lots of peace people and historic wooden boat lovers are behind us as well.

Learn more:


We Need Your Voice. Join Us!

Want to learn more about tax-deductible giving, donating stock and estate planning?

Visit Greenpeace Fund, a nonprofit, 501(c)(3) charitable entity created to increase public awareness and understanding of environmental issues through research, the media and educational programs.