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Ralph Waldo Emerson


Emerson, Ralph Waldo (1803–82), U.S. philosophical essayist, poet, and lecturer. He resigned a Unitarian pastorate (1831) and, after traveling in Europe, settled in Concord, Mass. His Nature (1836) was the strongest motivating statement of U.S. transcendentalism. After 1837 he became nationally renowned as a public speaker, and after 1842 as editor of the transcendentalist journal, The Dial. He later adjusted his idealistic view of the individual, expressed in essays and addresses like “The American Scholar” and “Self-Reliance,” to accommodate the U.S. experience of humanity's historical and political limitations, especially over the issue of slavery.

See also: Transcendentalism.

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