The Long Voyage: The Golden Rule and Resistance to Nuclear Testing in Asia and the Pacific

 In anti-nuclear movement

by Peace Action historian Lawrence Wittner

Recently, when a battered, 30-foot sailboat, the Golden Rule, came to rest in a small shipyard in northern California, the event did not inspire fanfare.  But, in fact, the Golden Rule was far more important than it appeared, for the small ketch had helped inspire a widespread struggle against nuclear testing, particularly throughout the Asia-Pacific region.

The long voyage of the Golden Rule began thanks to the efforts of Albert Bigelow, a retired World War II U.S. naval commander.  Learning of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, Bigelow had been not only awestruck, but horrified.  “It was then,” he recalled, “that I realized for the first time that morally war is impossible.”  In the postwar years, Bigelow and his wife joined the Society of Friends and, in 1955, housed two of the 25 Hiroshima Maidens, who had been brought to the United States for reconstructive surgery.  Working with the American Friends Service Committee, Bigelow sought to deliver a petition against nuclear testing to the White House, but was rebuffed by U.S. government officials.


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  • Fredy Champagne

    Veterans For Peace would like to announce the restoration has begun of the famous sailing ketch, the Golden Rule.

    In 1958, four brave anti-nuclear peace activists set out from Honolulu sailing the Golden Rule in an attempt to stop atmospheric nuclear weapons testing in the islands near Bikini atoll. The boat was stopped by the US Coast Guard, boarded, the crew arrested and the boat towed back to Honolulu. After being warned by the courts, the crew again set out for the Marshall Islands. Again they were stopped, towed, arrested, and the crew was convicted. This action in 1958 sparked demonstrations against the bomb around the world, and led to the formation of many anti-nuclear groups.

    Veterans For Peace chapters from Northern California have formed a committee and enlisted volunteers to complete the restoration of the Golden Rule. Members from San Franciso to Eureka are working together on this project. The ketch was salvaged in Humboldt Bay by Leroy Zerlang, Zerlang’s shipyard in Fairhaven, across the Bay from Eureka. VFP members are in the process of rebuilding the damaged hull, and replacing ribs and siding on the starboard side.

    Plans call for a new deck and cabin and interior. All the sails, masts, brass and other gear has been salvaged and is usable. We expect to be seaworthy again by July 2011.

    For more information, please see our website at:

    When completed, the boat will sail again, operating along the West Coast as a reminder to all of the mission of Veterans For Peace, to end all wars. In the tradition of the four brave crewmen that once sailed the Pacific in opposition to militarism and the use of the atomic bomb, this small and famous ketch will again attempt to oppose the militarism of the US and raise again the issue of the use of nuclear weapons.

    Fredy Champagne,
    Coordinator, 707.599.5378
    Veterans For Peace, Inc.
    Golden Rule Project
    P.O. Box 5097
    Eureka, CA 95502-5097

  • Dan Davis

    I am a VFP (Viet Nam ’68, CIB, Purple Heart, BS, SM, etc) long time fresh water sailor and occasional briney sailor when possible. I just found this link and would love to be a part of this project.

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