(Emerson, one of the leading writer and leader for the Transcendentalism movement)

Transcendentalism was philosophy that thought that people, men, women, equally, have knowledge about themselves and the world around them that goes beyond what they know with their 5 senses. They wanted a new American Culture, one that was free of all European influence.

Where and who

Located in Boston, the Transcendental club was one of the most well known transcendentalism group. There were many extraordinary people in there such as Margaret Fuller, Nathaniel Hwathorne, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Walk Whitman, And Henry David Thoreau. But the most well known member was Ralph Emerson

Members of the Transcendental Club which included Emerson, Thoreau, Fuller, Channing, Bronson Alcott, Orestes Brownson, and Theodore Parker.


Emerson, who was recognized as our first truly "American” thinker wrote the American Scholar, he urged Americans to stop looking to Europe for inspiration and imitation and be themselves. He believed that people were naturally good and that everyone's potential was limitless. His contributions to transcendentalism inspired a truly uniquely American idea and reform.

Main Idea

The main idea we need to know about transcendentalism in American History is that it was a widely popular idea that in one way or another encouraged individualism and self-reliance. It caused people to take stands on women's rights, abolition, reform, and education. It made people criticized government, organized religion, laws, social institutions, and creeping industrialization. They created an American "state of mind" in which imagination was better than reason, creativity was better than theory, and action was better than contemplation. And they had faith that all would be well because humans could transcend limits and reach astonishing heights. It revived the arts in America and created an American's unique culture, setting us apart from the British


The theory of books is noble. The scholar of the first age received into him the world around; brooded thereon; gave it the new arrangement of his own mind, and uttered it again.

It came into him, life; it went out from him, truth.
It came to him, short-lived actions; it went out from him, immortal thoughts.
It came to him, business; it went from him, poetry.
It was dead fact; now, it is quick thought.
It can stand, and it can go.
It now endures, it now flies, it now inspires
Precisely in proportion to the depth of mind from which it issued, so high does it soar, so long does it sing.

-Excerpt from The American Scholar, Ralph Waldo Emerson


The American Scholar, written by Ralph Emerson was one of the most important written document published about transcendentalism.  Emerson delivered his document to a group of students at Cambridge, Massachusetts. There he urged all students to create an original literature free from European influence. He thought that the ideas written in the books already written restrained the people with an unspoken laws that they should not go against the word of the book. He wanted them to make their own writing base on self reliance and using the past information as a tool to explore new ones. This idea was one of the backbone of what transcendentalism is base on.

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