Ralph Waldo Emerson

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Born: 1803

Died: 1884


Ralph Waldo Emerson (25 May 1803 – 27 April 1882) was an American essayist, philosopher, poet, and leader of the Transcendentalist movement in the early 19th century. His teachings directly influenced the growing New Thought movement of the mid 1800s.

Emerson gradually moved away from the religious and social beliefs of his contemporaries, formulating and expressing the philosophy of Transcendentalism in his 1836 essay, Nature. As a result of this ground breaking work he gave a speech entitled The American Scholar in 1837, which Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr. considered to be America's "Intellectual Declaration of Independence". Emerson once said "Make the most of yourself, for that is all there is of you."

Considered one of the great orators of the time, Emerson's enthusiasm and respect for his audience enraptured crowds. His support for abolitionism late in life created controversy, and at times he was subject to abuse from crowds while speaking on the topic, however this was not always the case. When asked to sum up his work, he said his central doctrine was "the infinitude of the private man."

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List of poetic works

Settings of text by Ralph Waldo Emerson



  • "Concord Hymn"
  • "The Rhodora"

External links