Transcendentalist Writers

Ralph Waldo Emerson
– Considered father of American Transcendentalism
Ralph Waldo Emerson
– former minister that became disillusioned w/ the spiritual restrictions of his religion
Ralph Waldo Emerson
– after his first wife’s death, he traveled through Europe where he met w/ leading English writers & discovered the philosophies of German philosopher Immanuel Kant; inspired by Kant to begin the American Trans. movement.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
– his essays on transcendentalism caused him to be wildly sought as a lecturer throughout the nation
Ralph Waldo Emerson
– called for American intellectual independence from Europe in his essay “The American Scholar”
Ralph Waldo Emerson
– His “Divinity School Address” called into question some traditional Christian beliefs
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Henry David Thoreau
– A protege of Emerson’s who put the Transcendentalism beliefs into practice
Henry David Thoreau
– as a young boy, he was considered an eccentric that rarely followed rules
Henry David Thoreau
– quit his position as a teacher as a protest to the practice of corporal punishment
Henry David Thoreau
– he and his brother opened their own “alternative” school
Henry David Thoreau
– in 1845 he withdrew from society and lived in nature for 26 months in a cabin next to Walden Pond outside of Concord, Massachusetts
Henry David Thoreau
– wrote of his experiences and thoughts in a series of essays published in his book “Walden” (1854)
Henry David Thoreau
– “Walden” consists of 18 essays ranging in topics from a battle between red and black ants to the individual’s relation to society
Henry David Thoreau
– he refused to pay taxes as a protest against the Mexican War and was jailed for one night
Henry David Thoreau
– Emerson paid his taxes for him
Henry David Thoreau
– One of his most famous essays “Civil Disobedience” put forth the theory of non-violent resistance to immoral governmental policies inspired Ghandi and MLK Jr.