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Ralph Waldo Emerson
Time Period
1836  - 1850
Transcendentalism was an early 19th century intellectual movement that promoted the union between mind and nature based on personalized mystical experiences. The movement distrusted institutionalized religion and had a high regard for human potential through self-cultivation.

Its origins trace back to the September 1836 in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where intellectual elites, like Ralph Waldo Emerson, met and discussed spiritual matters. The group eventually attracted renowned figures such as feminist Margaret Fuller, writer Henry David Thoreau, abolitionist Theodore Parker, and poet William Ellery Channing, Jr. Transcendentalist viewpoints were published in the periodical known as The Dial and eventually communes emerged by 1841.

The movement started to die out in the 1850s, but its legacy can be found in the various tenets of Christian modernism and New Age religion.
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Social Movements and Religion
Religious Minorities (Non-Christian)
Browse Related Timeline Entries
Social Movements and Religion in American History
Religious Minorities (Non-Christian) in American History
Emerson, Ralph Waldo

Old House at Fruitlands, a Transcendental community- Internet Archive- from Bronson Alcott's Fruitlands by Clara Endicott Sears

Ralph Waldo Emerson reading- National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution

Margaret Fuller portrait- Internet Archive- from Margaret Fuller Ossoli by Thomas Wentworth Higginson

Henry Thoreau portrait- Internet Archive- from The Writings of Henry David Thoreau, vol 1

The Dial, first page- Hathi Trust
Book/Journal Source(s)
Queen, Edward, Stephen Prothero and Gardiner Shattuck, 1996. The Encyclopedia of American Religious History. New York: Facts on File.
Web Page Contributor
Benjamin T. Gurrentz
Affliated with: Pennsylvania State University, Ph.D. in Sociology

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