Boston in the 1850s may have been a focal point for Northern Abolitionists, but the movement hardly garnered universal support. Outside of the Transcendentalist movement and the often-abstract morality of the upper classes, abolition often met resistance. The working classes, in particular, feared economic hardship should freed slaves flood the workforce with even cheaper labor.
In this volatile environment, John Harrigan struggles with multiple crises. A member of Boston's oft-reviled community of Irish immigrants, Harrigan's resistance to abolition leads to clashes with his son Jack, a liberal minded young man increasingly involved with the Transcendentalist movement. For the staunchly Catholic John Harrigan, Jack's actions betray the family on both religious and personal levels.
When a mob of Bostonians threatens to lynch a runaway slave, disaster strikes the Harrigan clan, a tragedy used by proponents and opponents of abolition alike to strengthen their own beliefs and agendas. In a conflict where the needs of immigrants are pitted against Southern slaves, no winner can emerge unscathed.
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About the Author
William Brennan was born and raised in an Irish neighborhood in the shoe factory city of Brockton, Massachusetts, as New England's Industrial Revolution was waning.
A retired federal executive, Brennan saw firsthand the ongoing tension between state and federal governments. Upon his retirement, the Department of Energy honored him with its Distinguished Career Award.
Harrigan is Brennan's sixth novel. His first, A Tattered Coat Upon a Stick, deals with the infamous Sacco and Vanzetti trial, while his fifth novel, Gray Hearts and Greenbacks, is a lighter piece concerning a massive fraud perpetuated against the US government.
Brennan lives with his wife in Annandale, Virginia, near Washington, DC.