American transcendentalism was an important movement in philosophy and literature that flourished during the early to middle years of the nineteenth century (1836-1860). It began as a reform movement in the Unitarian church, in eastern Massachusetts, extending the views of William Ellery Channing on an internal belief of God and the importance of sensitive thought. It was based on "a philosophic holding to the unity of the world and God, and the internal belief of God in the world". For the transcendentalists, the soul of each individual is identical with the soul of the world and contains what the world contains. Biography of Henry David Thoreau
Henry David Thoreau was a man of many talents who worked hard to shape his ability and his life, seeing little difference between them. Born in 1817, one of his first memories was of staying awake at night "looking through the stars to see if I could see God behind them." One might say he never stopped looking into nature for ultimate Truth. Henry grew up very close to his older brother John, who taught school to help pay for Henry's tuition at Harvard. While there, Henry read a book by his neighbor, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nature, and never finished exploring its ideas. He worked for several years as a surveyor and making pencils with his father, but at the age of 28 in 1845, wanting to write his first book, he went to Walden Pond and built his cabin on land owned by Emerson While at Walden, Thoreau did an immense amount of reading and writing, yet he also spent much time strolling in nature. He gave a lecture and was imprisoned shortly for not paying his poll tax, but mostly he wrote a book as a memorial to a river trip he had taken with his brother. After two years, Thoreau returned to Concord, two miles away which he had visited often during his stay at the pond, having completed his experiment in living and his book. Unfortunately, few people were...
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