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Transcendentalism

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Alex Botello

on 12 November 2013

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Transcript of Transcendentalism

Transcendentalism
A New Way of Thinking
Religious renewal, literary innovation, and social transformation

Time period: 1830s to 1880s

Prominent leaders were Henry David Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson


Henry David Thoreau
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Born in Boston in 1803

8 yrs. old when father died

Mother was determined to send 4 kids to Harvard

Grew up in the city and kept away from "lower class" boys

Began preaching after Harvard
Modern Republican Party
Party founded in 1854 that was against slavery

Founded in Northern states

Kansas Nebraska Act and Missouri Compromise

Abraham Lincoln- First Republican President

Anti-abolitionists made clear that “settler sovereignty” meant pro-slavery

Opposed to slavery because they did not want to compete with unpaid labor in lands joining in the west

Their plan was to gain complete political control in the North

Nicknamed “Grand Old Party”

Leaders: William Seward, Horace Greeley ,William Cullen Bryant and Preston King


Groups during the movement
Transcendental Club
The Dial
Transcendental Club

Utopian communities

Experimental churches

The Dial
Idea came from the Transcendental Club

Most famous transcendental magazine

Edited by Fuller and Emerson
Informal group met to discuss intellectual and religious issues

Had a tendency to focus on Harvard and Unitarianism

Emerson and Thoreau were members
Early Roots
Emerged from Unitarianism

Many leaders were Unitarian intellectuals

Rejected previous assumptions made by Locke and instead accepted the ideas of Kant


Mind over matter

Human experience controlled by the mind

Transcendentalism comes from Kant's philosophical term


Mexican-American War
Thoreau sent to jail for not paying taxes, protesting, during the war

Rescued by his friends who paid the tax

Went on to write antiwar essay "Civil Disobedience" - nonviolent noncooperation due to immoral acts made by government, in this case, waging war


Thoreau in jail?
Cotton Kingdoms: Florida, Alabama, Tennessee, Georgia, Mississippi, Kentucky, South and North Carolina

Abolitionists- called to free slaves

Plantation owners and others profiting from slaves thought that each state independently had the right to decide what happened within their borders (States’ Rights)

As each new state entered union there was a fight in the House and in the Senate.

Southerners wanted to annex free Oregon because it meant the ability to annex the large Texas as a slave state.

“Wilmot Proviso’’ eventually endorsed by the legislatures of all but one of the free states, soon came to symbolize the burning issue of slavery in the territories.

Treaty signed in a small village of Guadalupe Hidalgo on the afternoon of February 2, 1848.

James Polk retires in 1849

Manifest Destiny exacted a heavy price


Effects of Mexican-American War
The opening shots of the war were the opening shots of the Civil War

Polk left the nation with California and the Southwest, but also with a bitter dispute over slavery

Compromise of 1850

Attitude from the Mexican American War cause spirits, which contributed to the divisiveness, extremism, and belligerence that brought the Civil War
Born in Concord, Mass. in 1817

Emerson was his neighbor and they had a lot of discrepancies on ideals of friendship and social commerce

He was a schoolteacher and started his own school in Concord with his brother John

Later became handyman at Emerson's house in exchange for room and board

Died at Concord in 1862 in his mother's house
Works
Lasting Effects
Admitted to not liking contemporary authors like Emerson

Constantly wrote journals, suggested by Emerson

Emerson was his literary acquaintance

"Walden" (1854)

"Resistance to Civil Government" or "Civil Disobedience" (1849)

""Slavery in Massachusetts" and "A Plea for Captain John Brown"

1850s- became one of the most outspoken abolitionists
Social philosopher and naturalist

Ghandi a follower?

MLK Jr.-Civil Disobedience

1930s-Major American voice

Most challenging major writer

No reader will be pleased with culture or civilization after reading his works
Second Great Awakening
Temperance Movement
Discourage people from spending wages on alcohol and spending their spare time in saloons
Abolitionist Movement
Religious revival movement

Led to the formation of new denominations

Increase in number of Protestants in America

Movement appealed to women and African Americans

AME (African Methodist Episcopal)- black Methodist denomination

Ideal society were everyone contributed to the good of the whole

Fueled two movements- the temperance movement and the abolitionist movement

Each individual must live without sin and urge others to live without sin also. Holding another human in slavery was seen as a sin

Step to end slavery in the south

Both white and black activists were fighting for their equality

Africans living in America wanted to be treated as equals to whites and have the same privileges.

143 anti slavery societies by 1826 run by free blacks.

Southern states started to push more harsh laws on slaves


Whig Party
Free blacks and abolitionists preferred it, even though it was not very anti-slavery, over the democrats.

Kansas Nebraska Act brought opposition to the Whig Party between northern and southern Whigs

All of them opposed annexation of Texas, Mexican-American War and other aggressions as part of Manifest Destiny

Seemed like they supported the Union

Could not devise a response to the slavery issue after 1850

Party collapsed in 1850s

Southern Whigs became Democrats while northern Whigs defected towards Free Soils Party becoming Republicans.

Northern Whigs “Conscience Whigs” vs. Southern Whigs “Cotton Whigs"
Works
Nature (1836)

Edited The Dial from 1842-1844

Essays (1841) and Essays: Second Series (1844) -- Self-Reliance

The Transcendentalist and Speech on Fugitive Slave Law

Journals and Miscellaneous Notebooks
Lasting Effects
Poems gained him representation

Became fervent advocate for abolition of slavery in 1850s

Reputation rests on his essays

Journals were his other masterpiece

Gives different points of view and challenges new reader to find pattern in diversity
Abolitionist Movement Continued
Goal was to immediately end segregation and the discrimination against blacks in America

First generation of African American ministers

1833- established American Anti-Slavery Society

Garrison believed that North should secede from U.S. and form their own nation with equality
Standing on the bare ground, my head bathed by the blithe air, and uplifted into infinite space, all mean egotism vanishes. I become a transparent eyeball-I am nothing; I see all; the currents of the Universal Being circulate through me-I am part or particle of God.The name of the nearest friend sounds then foreign and accidental: to be brothers, to be acquaintances-master or servant, is then a trifle, and a disturbance. I am a lover of uncontained and immortal beauty. In the wilderness, I have something more connate and dear than in the streets or villages. In the tranquil landscape, and especially in the distant line of the horizon, man beholds somewhat as beautiful as his own nature.

- Ralph Waldo Emerson, from Nature

Ideas expressed in this cartoon:
the connection between mind and matter- you aren't one individual in the universe, yet you are part of a whole
Perpetual openness of mind and this allows us to escape from our material or superficial mindset and understand the meaning of life more clearly.
Looking beyond sight into the morality and goodness of someones inner soul. This is done with an open mind.
Full transcript