By Ralph Waldo Emerson
For the Transcendentalists, the term meant simply that there are truths that go beyond (transcend) proof. These truths are known to the heart rather than to the mind, are felt emotionally, even though they cannot be proved logically.
The Transcendentalists drew on a wide diversity of foreign sources, including Platonism, Germanphilosophical idealism and the English Romantics, and, somewhat later, Confucius’ and Buddha’s writings. They were against dogmatism in religion and literature, and they were against the commercial materialism of the period. Transcendentalists believed in intuition over sense experience as a source of knowledge, the concept of an organic universe, and a belief in the divinity of the human being. The point wasthe idea that there was a personal and intuitive force that transcended the material world. This force revealed itself to people under certain circumstances, making it possible to learn from nature and to acquire wisdom. They also believed in the interconnectedness of all being things. Emerson asserted, "It is one soul which animates all men".
Their adherence to the values of democracy,individualism, and self-reliance explains why so many transcendentalists were involved in social reform, because they stressed the reform of society through perfection of the individual from within, not through external social means. They thought that each man must be true to the moral law within. They were especially interested in abolishing slavery and gaining equality for women. Transcendentalist ideasof passive resistance greatly have influenced such social reformers as Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King.
The country grew really fast in the 19th century. President James Monroe in 1823 inspired the thought there was the certain idea (manifest) that the fate of America was to fight for the Unity of North America (destiny). And so was, the country spread coast to coast.Also there were a lot of development in communication, transport and technological progress in all ways. Transcendentalists could not just watch how their country was quickly being mechanized. There were a lot of social improvements for women during the first half of the nineteenth century. Emma Willard established America’s first school for girls, Troy Female Seminary.
There were disputes betweenNorth and South because the Northern states wanted to protect American industry from Europe but the South relied upon the trade foreign goods for a lot of reason. Also slavery was a difference between them. Eventually they fought the Civil War in 1861 ending up in the Emancipation Proclamation (1862) in which Lincoln declared free just the slaves of the North States.
One of the most relevantevents for Transcendentalism was the launch of the Transcendentalist magazine The Dial from 1840 until 1844 in which writers like Emerson, Margaret Fuller or Thoreau contributed; also the Brook Farm utopian community sponsored by the Transcendentalist Club of Boston whose objective was to develop themselves intellectually and spiritually through the contact with nature and the praising of life.Biography
Ralph Waldo Emerson was born on 25 May 1803 in Boston, Massachusetts. He was the second of five sons. His father was a Unitarian minister called William Emerson who died when he was eight. After studying at the Boston Latin School, Emerson entered Harvard College at the age of fourteen, graduating in 1821. His first publication, "Thoughts on the Religion of the Middle Ages" appeared in1822.
In 1829, he married Ellen Louisa Tucker but she died of tuberculosis a few years later. This loss caused some religious questioning and doubt on Emerson. He next proposed marriage to Lydia "Lydian" Jackson in 1835 with whom he would have four children. Then Emerson bought a house in Concord, Massachusetts where they would live for the rest of their lives.
Emerson's first book Nature (1836)...