I would like this book to remind Americans, and whomever else might be interested, that our cross-section of this continent has a great anti-authoritarian history: a history of religious individualism, revolution, anti-slavery, anti-gender-oppression, anti-statism. It is a tradition of looking skeptically at all forms of political and economic hierarchy.
I intend to do a companion volume on the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, but one thing I very much like about the history I'm presenting is that it occurs before and outside the left/right spectrum, which only became current in the US in the very late 19th century. The question of whether an anti-federalist like Robert Yates, or an agrarian like John Taylor, or a radical individualist such as Emerson or Spooner is on the left or the right is ill-formed. At any rate, they were skeptics about state power and unbridled capitalism, opponents of slavery and exploitation. Nor do feminists such as Sarah Grimké or Lucretia Mott fit comfortably in the later political spectrum: they are extremely religious and also radically individualist, and yet they supported all the progressive reforms of their era.
Several of these documents are famous, but a number of the figures are far too little known and their texts far too little available. I also hope that this volume is an exercise in canon-formation.
[not to put too fine a point on it: the political left is authoritarian, elitist, thoroughly dedicated to hierarchy. it ain't freed nobody from nothin, and it never will. judged by the values it itself professes, it is evil; it is precisely what it professes to be dedicated to destroying.]