In the 1800s, a woman named Fanny Wright tried to start a utopian commune where people could live freely from the confines of slavery; Boston activists tried to fight the Fugitive Slave Law with massive protests against the rendition of escaped slave Anthony Burns; Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton held their convention at Seneca Falls, only to be told women's rights weren't politically viable until slavery was abolished, and even for some time after.

Holly Jackson, associate professor at University of Massachusetts Boston, details in her new book, "American Radicals: How Nineteenth-Century Protest Shaped the Nation," how the social justice movements in the 1800s did more than historians give them credit for.

"These were stories we need now. We needed to understand how central this history was to this moment in American history that really shaped the modern world," she told Boston Public Radio Tuesday. "So I was doing this work, then after the presidential election of 2016, we saw a huge mobilization of Americans, and a lot of Americans who didn't think of themselves as maybe particularly political were really kind of radicalized to that moment.

"All of the beginning of all of those strands of American activism are in the 19th century, and I felt like people interested in these issues should understands themselves as part of a very long tradition and a really formative tradition that didn't just respond to American culture, but made it."

Holly Jackson is an associate professor of English at UMass Boston, and associate editor of the New England Quarterly.