In this impressively researched biography of Benjamin Lay, Marcus Rediker has brought to light one of the most compelling yet underrecognized abolitionists of the eighteenth century. Born in Essex, England, in 1682, Benjamin Lay was deeply influenced by the legacy of radicalism that stemmed from the English Civil War. In his youth he challenged England's economic and social hierarchy; he refused to doff his hat to social superiors and aggressively challenged those whom he felt delivered “false ministry.” After initially working as a shepherd and glover in Essex, Lay left England and worked on a sailing vessel that took him throughout the Mediterranean. His time traveling on this ship gave Lay his first exposure to slavery—the issue that would shape his life's advocacy. But when Lay moved with his wife to Barbados in 1718, he witnessed the way chattel slavery dehumanized both slaves and their owners and that experience led...

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