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Francesco Ferrer

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Francesc Ferrer i Guàrdia (January 10, 1859 - October 12, 1909), (known as Francisco Ferrer y Guardia in Spanish and often simply as Francisco Ferrer), was a Catalan free-thinker and anarchist.

He was born in Alella (a small town near Barcelona) to Catholic parents. A follower of Spanish republican leader Ruiz Zorilla, Ferrer was exiled to Paris with his wife and children in 1885. Divorcing in 1899, he remarried a wealthy Parisian teacher shortly thereafter.

In 1901 he returned to Spain and opened la Escuela Moderna (The Modern School) to teach middle-class children (then) radical social values. In 1906 he was arrested on suspicion of involvement with Mateu Morral's attack on King Alphonso XIII and released uncharged over a year later. His school failed and closed while he was incarcerated.

Early in the summer of 1908, after his release from jail, he wrote the story of the Modern School. The work was entitled The Origins and Ideals of the Modern School and was translated into English by Joseph McCabe and published by the Knickerbocker Press in 1913.

Following the declaration of martial law in 1909 during the Tragic Week, he was arrested and executed without any proof by firing squad at Montjuich Fortress in Barcelona on October 13.

Shortly after his execution, numerous supporters of Ferrer's ideas in the United States formed what were called Modern Schools, or Ferrer Schools, modeled after la Escuela Moderna. The first and most notable Modern School was formed in New York City in 1911.

Alexander Berkman, anarchist colleague of Emma Goldman and contributor to her journal Mother Earth, later founded an anarchist collective he named the Ferrer Center. The center was used as a frequent meeting place for various anarchist and radical writers and revolutionaries, and is believed to have been a meeting site for planning the Tarrytown bombing of July 1914, where a bomb intended for John D. Rockefeller's mansion in Tarrytown New York exploded prematurely in the plotter's apartment, killing all those inside.

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