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Voltairine de Cleyre
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    (November 17, 1866-June 20, 1912)
    Born in Leslie, Michigan
    Outspoken proponent of 'anarchism without adjectives', a branch of anarchism without other overaching labels
    Named after Voltaire
    Editor for the freethought newspaper The Progressive Age
    Initially associated with individualist anarchism, then to mutualism, and finally embraced socialism
    Writings include 'The Drama of the Nineteenth Century' (1889), 'In Defense of Emma Goldmann [sic] and the Right of Expropriation' (1894), 'The Gods and the People' (1898), 'The Worm Turns' (1900), 'Det Anarkistiske Ideal' (1903), 'McKinley's Assassination from the Anarchist Standpoint' (1907), 'Anarchism and American Traditions' (1909), 'The Dominant Idea' (1910), 'Direct Action' (1912), and 'Selected Works of Voltairine de Cleyre' (1914)
    Died from septic meningitis at St. Mary of Nazareth Hospital in Chicago
    Subject of the biography 'An American Anarchist: The Life of Voltairine de Cleyre' by Paul Avrich (1978)
    She isn't very well-known nowadays, which biographer Sharon Presley attributed to how short her life was.
    She tried to run away when she was a student at the Convent of Our Lady of Lake Huron in Sarnia, Ontario, only to be sent back.
    She lost faith in the idea of trial by jury after the Haymarket protesters were hanged. (1887)
    As part of her agreement with her boyfriend James B. Elliot, she played no part in their son Harry's upbringing.
    Despite her denial of being a communist, some argued that her ideas constitute as communism.
    She attempted suicide twice, which was partly attributed to depression.
    She opposed the standing army, urging people to stop paying wages and pensions for military personnel.
    She denounced marriage and motherhood, claiming that they don't serve the interests of women.
    She wrote that capitalism has distorted the family into a tool of oppression for women.
    Some of the poems she wrote expressed her support for the use of violence among anarchists.
    She was described as a highly skilled writer and public speaker.
    She grew up extremely poor and with unhappily married parents who eventually separated when she was one year old.
    Her sister Marion drowned to death before their parents divorced.
    She was plagued by ill health throughout her life, including a disease of the nervous system.
    She was mistreated by most of her boyfriends, prompting her to avoid living with men.
    She learned Yiddish while teaching English and music to Jewish immigrants in Philadelphia. (1889-1910)
    She survived an assassination attempt by a mentally ill student, whom she immediately forgave. (December 19, 1902)
    The attempt on her life left her with chronic ear pain and a throat infection that severely compromised her speech and concentration.
    She and Emma Goldman highly respected each other despite their mutual disagreements, and Goldman called her 'the most gifted and brilliant anarchist woman America ever produced.'
    She confronted issues most feminists of her time avoided, such as women's sexuality and their emotional and psychological dependence on men in the nuclear family structure.

Credit: Big Lenny

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