Ralph Waldo Emerson

By: Cassie Gomez

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Emerson's art touched the nation and inspired millions.

His Early Life Developement

Ralph Waldo Emerson lived an outstanding life. He was born May 25th, 1803 and died April 27th, 1882 which is amazing that he lived for 79 years. All his life Emerson lived in Massachusetts, though he did travel occasionally to other places. Ralph had 7 other siblings, but only 4 of them survived to adulthood. Before his 8th birthday Ralph's father, Rev. William Emerson, died due to stomach cancer, which left his mother to take care of 6 children alone (2 of Ralph's siblings had already died by that time). Ralph was very fortunate to be able to attend some of the best schools available during his time.

Emerson's Education

An excellent education was hard to come by in Ralph's days, but he was blessed with the privileged to get great education. The first school that Emerson went to was the Boston Latin School, which is where he learned practically what we do in Middle School/ High School but not as advanced as modern days. The next school he went to was Harvard college, where he learned the basics of upper literature. After that he went to Harvard University (confusing right?) where he got his "bachelor's degree" in literature. Lastly, Emerson went to Harvard Divinity School (kind of like a seminary~church school) so that he could become a pastor/high up administrator for religious purposes.

Important Events

In November of 1822 Ralph published his first piece of writing , which was an article named "The thoughts of the Religion of the Middle Ages", in the Christian Disciple and Theological Review Magazine. Then, on September 9th, 1836 Ralph published his essay 'Nature' which outlines his ideas about the manifestation of the universe in nature. Lastly on September 19th, 1836 Emerson went to his first meeting of the Transcendental club, which was a meeting of intellectual New Englanders that includes Henry David Thoreau, Bronson Alcott, and Margaret Fuller. Emerson's 'Nature' was one of the founding documents of this organization.
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One of Emerson's successes was that he became the most widely known man of letters in America (during his time period). Also, Emerson was well known for his quotes and articles that he wrote, which later some became the most important documents for the Transcendentalism movement.He was the leader of that movement and 'Nature' was the main article that their group was based on. This marked him a spot in America's history books. Because of his education he was given in his childhood Ralph had a wide depth of perception and knowledge in his mind.

His Touch to Change

Ralph was an American essayist, lecturer, and poet, who led the Transcendental movement of the mid-19th century had a way of writing quotes and words that are inspirational and others that capture the presence of beauty. One of my favorite quotes by him is the on shown above and it goes, "To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment." The way he put some religious meaning with such a true statement made me love the quote more.
"What lies behind us..." quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson


The idea of transcendentalism is going beyond the fundamental principles of human knowledge. Emerson's philosophy was, what is beyond nature is revealed through nature; nature itself is a symbol, or an indication of a deeper reality. He also thought that matter and spirit are not opposed but reflect a critical combination of experience. It is a common idea that Emerson is classified as an idealist philosopher and he has even used the term himself in his philosophy. Emerson believed that all things exist in an ever going flow of changes, and being is the subject of constant metamorphosis.
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Works Cited

Bio.com. A&E Networks Television, n.d. Web. 15 Apr. 2015.

Faber, Doris, and Harold Faber. Great Lives: American Literature. New York: Scribner's, 1995. Print.

"Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy." Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Apr. 2015.

Shmoop Editorial Team. "Ralph Waldo Emerson: Childhood & Religion." Shmoop.com. Shmoop University, Inc., 11 Nov. 2008. Web. 15 Apr. 2015.

Shmoop Editorial Team. "Ralph Waldo Emerson Family." Shmoop.com. Shmoop University, Inc., 11 Nov. 2008. Web. 15 Apr. 2015.

Shmoop Editorial Team. "Ralph Waldo Emerson Timeline of Important Dates." Shmoop.com. Shmoop University, Inc., 11 Nov. 2008. Web. 17 Apr. 2015.

"The Sound of Trumpets: Selections from Ralph Waldo Emerson." Barnes & Noble. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Apr. 2015.

"Transcendentalism - Definitions." Transcendentalism - Definitions. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 Apr. 2015.