Ralph Waldo EmersonPhilosopher / Clergyman / Orator
Born: 25 May 1803
Died: 27 April 1882
Birthplace: Boston, Massachusetts
Best known as: A founder of Transcendentalism
Ralph Waldo Emerson's father was the seventh in an unbroken line of ministers dating back to Puritan days, and after attending Harvard Emerson himself became a Unitarian minister. After the death of his young wife and two elder brothers, Emerson began to doubt his faith and in 1832 resigned his ministry. Eventually he settled in Concord, Massachusetts, where he lived most of the rest of his life thinking, writing and speaking. Emerson remains important in American history as a founder of the school of thought known as Transcendentalism. Its chief features were a reliance on intuition over cold scientific reason, a belief that the natural world held spiritual truths, and an optimistic view of the human spirit. Emerson was known as a stirring speaker, eventually earning the sobriquet "the Sage of Concord."
Extra credit: Early in Emma Lazarus's career, Emerson was a mentor and supporter of her poetry.
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