THE CRITICS AND CRUSADERS discussed in this book have, for all their obvious differences, the common quality of radicalism. A radical may be many things and he may be moved by complex motives, but in the last analysis he is an idealist who feels impelled to right existing wrongs. His rebelliousness may be a form of compensation for suffering from authority or poverty, from thwarted ambition or personal maladjustment. But while others who are similarly conditioned, yet lack the noble impulse, become gangsters or millionaires, clowns or cranks, the radical is driven by a messianic urge to remake the world.
There have always been radicals because society has never been free of inequality and oppression. The majority of men, like Cain, are averse to becoming their brothers' keepers; the small band of critics and crusaders, however, emulate Moses in their zeal to deliver their brethren from bondage. They are quick to become indignant at the shortcomings of society and they try to rectify them in ways congenial to their time and culture. From the very beginning of communal life these radicals have held the mirror up to mankind and pointed to the obvious blemishes.
In a very real sense the United States was conceived and firmly established by the radicals of 1776. It was Samuel Adams and Thomas Jefferson and many others like them who risked their liberty, if not their lives, in their efforts to overthrow British rule and