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Jeremiah Hacker

Journalist, Anarchist, Abolitionist

Rebecca M. Pritchard


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"We had much rather be all alone in the right than with the whole world in the wrong." So wrote Jeremiah Hacker in 1862. He was the main writer and editor of The Pleasure Boat, which may have the distinction of being Portland, Maine's most controversial newspaper.

Inspired by his Quaker background, Hacker worked to end slavery, poverty, and inequality of women through his writing. He spoke out against prisons, advocating instead for reform and education. He broke with all forms of organized religion and urged people to leave their churches and find moral direction from within. He promoted no political party, believing people would be better off without government. He was in favor of land for all. The most controversial of Hacker's radical ideas, however--and the one that lost him the most readers--was his advocacy for peace as the country headed toward Civil War.

Hacker's life spanned the nineteenth century (1801-1895). His work was widely read and he himself was well-known in his lifetime. But both he and his ideas have largely been forgotten--until now. This book explores the life and writings of Jeremiah Hacker, returning him to his rightful place in history, and showing how his words were an important part of what helped to forge that history.

Praise For Jeremiah Hacker: Journalist, Anarchist, Abolitionist

"Rebecca Pritchard has crafted a vivid portrait of one of mid-nineteenth-century America’s most colorful public figures. Jeremiah Hacker--teacher, itinerant preacher, journalist-publisher and uncompromising reformer--roamed city streets his ear trumpet in hand. His deafness proved no impediment to a life of impressive moral activism. Pritchard skillfully reconstructs the life of a now forgotten reformer, but she accomplishes much more. She situates Hacker’s wide-ranging commitment to reform in the hothouse of pre-Civil War idealism. ​Pritchard tells a remarkable story in engaging, lively prose." --Joseph Conforti, author of Imagining New England and Jonathan Edwards, Religious Tradition, and American Culture

"What a Yankee Original! Jeremiah Hacker was a two-fisted fighting Quaker, a cranky crusader with a self-propelled pen and a critical eye for the world's weaknesses. He launched his newspaper The Pleasure Boat to assail the world's sins and shortcomings, sparing no one and nothing. Now, thanks to author Rebecca Pritchard, Hacker' s long-ago voyages are between covers for the first time. Well-written, full of anecdotes and surprises, Pritchard brings the street preacher and shrewd printer to life, and in her hands sprightly good company he is! Anyone who cruised on The Pleasure Boat never forgot it—and neither will you."--Herb Adams, Adjunct Professor of History at Southern Maine Community College and former Maine State Legislator

"Hacker was an intense, kind, absolutely committed activist for fairness, decency, and peace who never compromised his values even slightly in his ninety-four years. His uplifting, sometimes funny story shows by example that anyone who devotes all of themselves to the common good can change a piece of the world in a lasting and important way. This is a beautiful book about a beautiful man. ​Read it and gain strength from it."--Robert P. Helms, editor of The Collected Radical Addresses to the Unity Congregation (1888-1891) by Hugh Owen Pentecost

Frayed Edge Press, 9781642510065, 150pp.

Publication Date: March 5, 2019

About the Author

Rebecca M. Pritchard studied writing at the Salt Institute in Portland, Maine, and American & New England Studies at the University of Southern Maine. In school, she became interested in the stories buried in old newspapers and spent her time in libraries poring over their wrinkled pages. She has worked for the Maine Historical Society, the Abbe Museum, and Acadia National Park. She lives with her husband and daughter in Bar Harbor, Maine where she writes for The Mount Desert Islander.