Learn more about Jeremiah Hacker, a 19th-century Mainer who has been described as an anarchist, abolitionist, free thinker, pacifist, free land advocate, prison reformer, and something of a 19th-century feminist. He was an influential during his time but his writing have been lost to history during. Find out more about him at the Jesup Memorial Library on Thursday, March 26 at 7 p.m. with author Rebecca (Becky) Pritchard.
Pritchard’s book “Jeremiah Hacker: Journalist, Anarchist, Abolitionist” introduces readers to Hacker, a journalist and the main writer and editor of The Pleasure Boat, which may have the distinction of being Portland, Maine’s most controversial newspaper. Hacker published this reform journal for 16 years using it to write about ending slavery, poverty, and inequality of women as well as other controversial subjects. 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. While Hacker was widely read and known during his lifetime, his work was lost to history, until now. This book explores the life and writings of 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.
Andy O’Brien from Mainer writes, “Often on the edge of poverty, [Hacker] lived on bread and water in a boarding house on Cross Street, where he wrote his paper, The Portland Pleasure Boat, every week on his knee, assailing the institutions of government, capitalism, slavery, prisons and organized religion. Although Hacker had devoted readers throughout the country, historians have largely ignored him. Fortunately, Maine journalist Rebecca M. Pritchard has breathed new life into Hacker’s iconoclastic writings in her wonderful new book.”
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 lots of time in libraries reading them. That is how she came to know the obscure but fascinating 19th-century journalist Jeremiah Hacker, the subject of her first book. She has worked for the Maine Historical Society, the Abbe Museum, and worked six seasons as a park ranger at Acadia National Park. She now writes for the Mount Desert Islander.
Books will be on sale that night courtesy of co-sponsor Sherman’s Books. For more information on Pritchard visit https://rebeccampritchard.wixsite.com/website and for more information on the talk contact the Jesup at 207-288-4245.