Ralph Waldo Emerson

They created towns and became the center of Western life, enabling wheat, cattle, and minerals to flow out of the West

Half a century after engines touched pilot to pilot at Promontory, Utah, to complete the first transcontinental railroad, the imprint of the Iron Road was nearly everywhere in the American West. Some enthusiastic real estate promoters and railway officials even claimed that the railroads invented the West—or at least the national image of the West. Read more >>

The author walks us through literary Boston at its zenith. But Boston being what it is, we also come across the Revolution, ward politics, and the great fire.

Like three Bostonians out of four, I live on a site that was originally underwater. My house is on River Street, an alleyway that was built for stables at the bottom of Beacon Hill in the middle of the nineteenth century. Read more >>

His speech was called “our intellectual Declaration of Independence.” Its theme was the universe itself; its hero, Man Thinking. Now, one hundred and seventy-five years later, a noted scholar sees Emerson’s great vision as both more beleaguered and more urgent than ever.

ON AUGUST 31, 1837, THE DAY AFTER COMMENCEMENT—they don’t seem to have gone in for vacations in those earnest times—the academic year at Harvard was ushered in with Ralph Waldo Emerson’s address to Phi Beta Kappa on a stock topic, “The American Scholar.” The meetin Read more >>

Elizabeth, Mary, and Sophia Peabody managed to extend the boundaries that cramped the lives of nineteenth-century women. Elizabeth introduced the kindergarten movement to America, Mary developed a new philosophy of mothering that we now take for granted, and Sophia was liberated from invalidism by her passionate love for her husband.

Other men,” Ralph Waldo Emerson told an admiring crowd in Boston’s Odeon Theater toward the end of 1845, “are lenses through which we read our own minds.” The eminent philosopher then went on to tell his audience of the importance in their lives of “Represent Read more >>

From Fort Ticonderoga to the Plaza Hotel, from Appomattox Courthouse to Bugsy Siegel’s weird rose garden in Las Vegas, the present-day scene is enriched by knowledge of the American past

Many Americans, Hemingway among them, thought him a solemn prig. But Emerson’s biographer discovers a man who found strength and music in the language of the streets.

In the wake of the centennial year of Ralph Waldo Emerson’s death in 1882, scholars, critics, and journalists in various parts of the country started to take a fresh look at the man and his works. Read more >>

The idealists who founded this Utopian colony were singularly well versed in mystical philosophy— and singularly ignorant about farming

On the first day of June 1843, Bronson Alcott drove a large wagon up to his house in Concord, Massachusetts. Onto it he loaded his wife, Abby, three of his four little girls, his books, and enough belongings to sustain them in a new home. Read more >>

One of America s truly great men—scientist, philosopher, and literary genius—forged his character in the throes of adversity

THE YEAR IS 1890 and the place Cambridge, Massachusetts. Read more >>

An exasperated Ralph Waldo Emerson said of his rudest, most rebellious—and most brilliant—protégé. Their turbulent relationship survived what one newspaper called “the grossest violation of literary comity and courtesy that ever passed under our notice.”

One Saturday evening early in March, 1842, a twenty-two-year-old journalist named Walter Whitman came to the reading room of the New-York Society Library on Broadway, a few blocks north of City Hall, to hear a public lecture on “The Poet.” He had just been ap Read more >>
John Mason Hutchings, an Englishman, first, saw Yosemite Valley in 1855 and never got it out of his system. Nine years later he returned to the valley to be innkeeper of the Hutchings House, the frame hotel at left. Read more >>
Poe’s witticism was not meant kindly, but it was actually a compliment. Without doubt Margaret Fuller stood first among women of the nineteenth century. Read more >>

On a new bridge that arched the flood Their toes by April freezes curled, There the embattled committee stood, Beset, it seemed, by half the world.

Captain John Parker’s company of minutemen stood in formation, some seventy strong, waiting on Lexington Green in the dim light of early dawn. They had gathered during the night in response to Paul Revere’s warning that the British were coming. Read more >>

The Literary Lights Were Always Bright at

Everyone wanted to be invited to 148 Charles Street, where Charles Dickens mixed the punch and taught the guests parlor games, John Greenleaf Whittier and Harriet Beecher Stowe vied in telling ghost stories, and Nathaniel Hawthorne paced the bedroom floor one unhappy night in t Read more >>

Bronson Alcott and his transcendental friends hardly ever stopped talking. It left almost no time for mundane things like food and shelter

Margaret Fuller very possibly spoke the truth, and the literary men of the age both admired and shied away from her

Margaret Fuller is usually remembered—if at all—because she is supposed to have told Thomas Carlyle in London, “I accept the universe.” The legend implies that she underwent a struggle to achieve this accommodation, and that the universe was to feel complimented. Read more >>

If Buchanan had met the Kansas problem firmly we might have avoided civil war
The fourth in a series on TIMES OF TRIAL IN AMERICAN STATECRAFT