American Radicals: How Nineteenth-Century Protest Shaped the Nation

Crown. Oct. 2019. 400p. illus. notes. index. ISBN 9780525573098. $28; ebk. ISBN 9780525573111. POL SCI
In her latest book, Jackson (English, Univ. of Massachusetts, Boston; American Blood) explores how a diverse group of Americans aimed to re-create the nation based on a vision of collectivity, equality, and freedom. Radicals such as Fanny Wright, Henry David Thoreau, John Brown, and William Lloyd Garrison worked in several related and overlapping fields, becoming interested in topics such as birth control, prison reform, and religious beliefs. Many quickly realized these issues were inextricably linked to the issue of slavery. By their account, no true reform or realization of America’s promise of equality for all could be achieved until the millions of men, women, and children were freed from their bonds. Once slavery ended, some radicals considered the fight won, while others argued that true equality could only be obtained once every last bit of injustice and prejudice was erased from American society. Drawing on a wide variety of printed and archival primary sources, Jackson delivers a forcefully argued and lyrical account of these varied movements, their successes and failures.
VERDICT Readers interested in the history of social and radical movements, along with antebellum history, will find much to enjoy.
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