Ralph Waldo Emerson


Ralph Waldo Emerson

Boston, Suffolk County, Massachusetts, USA
Death 27 Apr 1882 (aged 78)
Concord, Middlesex County, Massachusetts, USA
Burial Concord, Middlesex County, Massachusetts, USA
Plot Authors' Ridge
Memorial ID 320 View Source
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Author, Philosopher. He was a 19th century American essayist, poet, and popular philosopher, who influence many people's reasoning. He was the author of the essays as "Self-Reliance," "History," "The Over-Soul," and "Fate." Born to a family of Unitarians, "Waldo", as he was called, sought the vocation of being a minister in the Unitarian church. When Emerson was seven years old, his father died, probably of tuberculosis. He entered Harvard University in 1817 studying history and English and upon his 1821 graduation, he taught at a girls' school in Boston. In 1825, he enters Harvard Divinity School and becomes an ordained minister in 1829. The same year he marries 17-year-old Ellen Tucker, who dies two years later of tuberculosis. Grief-stricken, he resigns in 1832 from the church and sails to England. At this point, he abandoned traditional Christianity. After meeting English philosophers, he returns home in November of 1833 to become a lecturer after formulating his own philosophy. He found little difference from being a New England preacher than a lecturer. He always had an interest in the culture of India. He became the heir to his wife's substantial estate. Marrying for the second time, he took Lydia Jackson for his wife in 1835. The next year, he published his first book "Nature." His countless readers found in his writings their first exposure to non-Western modes of thinking, metaphysical concepts, and sacred mythologies. In 1838 he wrote a letter to United States President Van Buren protesting the westward relocation of the Cherokees, a tribe of Native Americans in the Southeastern states. His five-year-old son, Waldo, dies of scarlet fever in 1842. In 1841 and 1844, he published a collection of his essays in "Essays" and "Essays, Second Series." He did not support organized religion or education for the masses, believing everyone is respectably different. Emerson became the chief spokesman for Transcendentalism, the American philosophic and literary movement. From 1842 to 1844, he edited the Transcendentalist journal, "The Dial." He emerged as a trans-Atlantic literary celebrity, returning to England in 1847 for a year of lecturing. In 1851 he starts lecturing against the Fugitive Slave Law and supporting the election of anti-slavery candidates in New England. After the American Civil War in 1867, he travels to the western United States to lecture. At his alma mater, Harvard University, he gave sixteen lectures, upsetting some scholars with more conservative views. During his lifetime, he gave between 1,500 to 2,000 lectures. By this time, he has published "Representative Men" in 1850, "English Traits" in 1856, "The Conduct of Life" in 1860, and "Society and Solitude" in 1870. "Experience" is an essay of the Transcendental movement. He wrote "The Wild World," a journal from 1820 to 1875, which mentions the many literary, philosophical, and religious thinkers of his day. In 1872 he sailed for England and then Egypt with his daughter, Ellen. After being caught in a cold rain without a coat, he died of pneumonia. The streets of his hometown of Concord were lined with mourners as his funeral cortege passed. One of his 500+ quotes is, "Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail."

Bio by: Linda Davis


The passive master lent his hand
To the vast soul that o'er him planned

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  • Maintained by: Find a Grave
  • Added: 31 Dec 2000
  • Find a Grave Memorial 320
  • Find a Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Ralph Waldo Emerson (25 May 1803–27 Apr 1882), Find a Grave Memorial ID 320, citing Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, Concord, Middlesex County, Massachusetts, USA ; Maintained by Find a Grave .