I. The Progressive Era
THE course taken by social criticism in North America was quite different from that in Europe, because the society itself was very different. The original colonies were established in part by religious dissenters, and in the course of time they attracted new groups of rebels against the religious and political powers of Europe. When, later, new orthodoxies began to emerge in the East, men were free to resume their criticism of society or to trek westward and begin again, and they did both these things. A new nation was finally created by the American Revolution, the first really successful assault upon the ancien regime, and one which in turn influenced the European revolutions. The leaders of this revolution debated at length and drafted in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution statements on the rights of man and on the bases of political obligation which summarized some of the most radical political doctrines of the mid-18th century.