Winner of the International Labor History
Long before the American Revolution and the Declaration of the Rights of Man, a motley crew of sailors,
slaves, pirates, laborers, market women, and indentured servants had ideas about freedom and equality that
would forever change history. The Many Headed-Hydra recounts their stories in a sweeping history of the
role of the dispossessed in the making of the modern world.
When an unprecedented expansion of trade and
colonization in the early seventeenth century launched the first global
economy, a vast, diverse, and landless workforce was born.
These workers crossed national, ethnic, and racial
boundaries, as they circulated around the Atlantic world on trade ships
and slave ships, from England to Virginia, from Africa to Barbados, and
from the Americas back to Europe.
Marshaling an impressive range of original research from archives in the Americas and Europe, the authors
show how ordinary working people led dozens of rebellions on both sides of the North Atlantic. The rulers
of the day called the multiethnic rebels a "hydra" and brutally suppressed their risings, yet some of their
ideas fueled the age of revolution. Others, hidden from history and recovered here, have much to teach us
about our common humanity.