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AVRICH, Paul. "Interview with Oriole Tucker"
Article published on 22 December 2010
last modification on 23 April 2015

by r-c.
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Admirable though it was, the life of Benjamin Tucker lacked dramatic quality. For excitement, color, or suspense, it cannot be compared with the life of Bakunin, Kropotkin, or Malatesta, still less of Durruti, Makhno, or Bonnot. Events there were, to be sure: Tucker’s early conversion to anarchism, his seduction by Victoria Woodhull, his controversy with Johann Most, to mention just a few. Yet these were merely ripples in an otherwise unbroken current. Tucker was a man of intellect rather than of action. His months and years were taken up mostly with the working out of his ideas and with the publication of his books and journals, Liberty above all else. Because of this, historians have dwelt on Tucker’s role as a publicist, to the neglect of his personal life. Little has been told about Tucker the man.

By examining the available sources, however, we can learn a great deal about the human side of Tucker, much of it of considerable interest. In physical appearance, he was a handsome man, 5’9’’ tall and weighing about 165 pounds, with piercing dark eyes, dark brown hair, and a neatly trimmed beard and mustache. (He shed his beard in his later years but kept the mustache until the end.) Always impeccably dressed, he was seldom to be seen in his shirtsleeves or otherwise informally attired.

To match his well-groomed appearance, Tucker exhibited a meticulousness of mind and manner throughout his long life. There was in him to the end something aloof and shut in. He was without snobbery of racial and class bias, but he showed always the aristocratic stance of a member of the New England gentry. Though he had a large circle of acquaintances, he did not make friends easily, and few came to know him on intimate terms. George Schumm, William Bailie, and other close associates on Liberty always addressed him as "Mr. Tucker" in their letters.

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