John Jay Chapman and the Insurgent Individual
TO HIS CONTEMPORARIES at the turn of the century he was widely known as "mad Jack Chapman." Fifty years later he is remembered by only a handful of people. His obscurity is unmerited, for his radicalism is tonic to our times.
John Jay Chapman all his long life spoke out against the conservatism of mealymouthed acquiescence in things as they are. His perfectionism provoked him to write some twenty-five books, hundreds of speeches, and thousands of letters on a distracting number of subject--disarmament, literature overprotected by Germanic specialism, immigration, education, Harvard, Prohibition, Roman Catholicism in America--but it was in his political agitation that his radicalism was the strongest.
For less than ten years Chapman hurled himself with concentrated energy against his times. He singled out for his attack what John Adams had called "the Devil's own incomprehensibles"--New York politics. Out of this experience came a strange name-calling periodical, two books on the urgency for reform of conduct in political life, and,