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Voltairine de Cleyre (1866–1912) was, according to Emma Goldman, “the most gifted and brilliant anarchist woman America ever produced.” Today she is not widely known as a consequence of her short life. De Cleyre was especially influenced by Thomas Paine, Mary Wollstonecraft and Clarence Darrow. After the hanging of the Haymarket protesters in 1887, she became an anarchist. “Till then I believed in the essential justice of the American law of trial by jury,” she wrote in an autobiographical essay, “After that I never could”. She was known as an excellent speaker and writer – in the opinion of biographer Paul Avrich, she was “a greater literary talent than any other American anarchist” – and as a tireless advocate for the anarchist cause, whose “religious zeal,” according to Goldman, “stamped everything she did.”
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