Joseph Palmer
Guy Lochhead, 06/09/10
Veteran of the War of 1812, member of the Fruitlands Utopian commune, and jailed beard-wearer. In 1830, Palmer moved to Fitchburg, Massachusetts. His beard made him the subject of personal abuse – broken windows, being refused communion at church, and physical attacks. Once, four men assaulted him and attempted to forcibly shave his beard. Palmer defended himself with his pocketknife, and was arrested for unprovoked assault. When he refused to pay the fine, he was sentenced to a year imprisonment (during which time he was subject to two more shaving-attacks). He wrote letters that were smuggled out by his son, explaining he was imprisoned for his beard, not for assault. The subsequent furore embarrassed the local constabulary so much that they gave him permission to leave. He refused on principle, and had to be carried out. I will include a picture of Joseph Palmer on the wall of a barber’s.

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