Chapter

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803–1882)

Edited by Louis P. Masur

in “… The Real War Will Never Get in the Books”

Published in print September 1995 | ISBN: 9780195098372
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199853908 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195098372.003.0007
Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803–1882)

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The most famous intellectual in America at the time of the Civil War, Ralph Waldo Emerson had started out confused and rebellious. Like his father he became a minister, but he resigned his pulpit in 1832 feeling that Unitarianism did not respond to the stirrings of the heart. In the next decade, he developed his ideas on the place of the individual in society. In Nature, he encouraged readers to break free from the stranglehold of the past, from empirical science, and from artificial social arrangements, all of which had combined to fracture and blind mankind. He called for intuition and spontaneity. By the time he was done, he had followers. Some were also young New England men and women who gathered together, became known as Transcendentalists, and published a paper called The Dial.

Keywords: Ralph Waldo Emerson; Unitarianism; Nature; Transcendentalists; The Dial; America; Civil War

Chapter.  10133 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of the Americas

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