Russian history is full of devotees ready to lay down their lives for their idea. Alexander Herzen (1812-1870) was the first Russian socialist to preach the ideas of equality and brotherhood. And although he did not take direct part in revolutionary activity, he was among those who prepared the ground for its development. One of the leaders of the Westernizers, later he became disillusioned with the ideals of the European way of development of Russia, moved to the opposite camp and became the founder of another movement, populism, significant for our history. The biography of Herzen is closely connected with such figures of the Russian and world revolution as Ogaryov, Belinsky, Proudhon, Garibaldi. Throughout his life he constantly tried to find the best way for equitable organization of society. To tell the truth, Alexander Ivanovich is respected for the passionate love for the people and the selfless service to the chosen ideals.
Alexander was an illegitimate son of the rich landowner Ivan Alekseevich Yakovlev and 16-year-old German girl Henrietta. Due to the fact that officially the marriage was not registered, the father couldn’t give the boy his surname. So he named his son Herzen, which means “child of the heart” in German. The future publicist and writer was brought up in his uncle’s house on Tverskoi Boulevard (now the Gorky Literary Institute). The ideas of the Great French Revolution were constantly hovering in the air of Alexander’s study room. Already at that time, Herzen befriended Ogaryov.