Ralph Waldo Emerson
Ralph Waldo Emerson was an American essayist, lecturer, poet, and philosopher born on May 25, 1803 in Boston, Massachusetts. He was a thinker of bold originality that moved away from the religious and social beliefs of his contemporaries. In doing so he lead the Transcendentalist movement of the mid-19th century. Ralph Waldo Emerson was influenced by his upbringing, experiences, philosophers, members of the Transcendentalist group, and the world around him. During Ralph Waldo Emerson’s early years, major influences that shaped his life took place. He was born into a religious family, being that his father was a Unitarian minister. His father, Rev. William Emerson, was liberal minded and taught Waldo at a young age to be open to new ideas. Through Unitarianism, Waldo learned the importance of rational thinking which would contribute to his Transcendentalist views. When he was just eight years old, his father passed away from stomach cancer. Growing up without a father made him feel incomplete, which always had him looking for something more in life. Following his father’s death, Waldo’s aunt, Mary Moody Emerson, moved in with the Emerson family. She encouraged Waldo’s independent thinking and he considered her presence in his life to be a blessing which nothing else in education could supply.” Waldo and his siblings came to consider their Aunt Mary a surrogate father, since she helped generate income, took charge of their spiritual as well as intellectual education, and pushed them to excel (American Writers: Selected Authors). She instilled in them her habit of daily journal writing and continual reading for self-education. She encouraged them to read poetry, delight in nature, and take risks, commanding, “[S]corn trifles, lift your aims: do what you are afraid to do” (Ralph Waldo Emerson On Self-Reliance). At the young age of fourteen, Waldo attended Harvard College, where he would begin the journal that he kept his whole...
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