To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded
Ralph Waldo Emerson (May 25, 1803 – April 27, 1882) was a Minister, an essayist, lecturer, and poet, who led the Transcendentalist movement of the mid-19th century. He was seen as a champion of individualism and a prescient critic of the countervailing pressures of society. He disseminated his thoughts through dozens of published essays and more than 1,500 public lectures across the United States.
Emerson gradually moved away from the religious and social beliefs of his contemporaries, formulating and expressing the philosophy of Transcendentalism in his 1836 essay, Nature. Following this ground-breaking work, he gave a speech entitled "The American Scholar" in 1837, which Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr. considered to be America's "Intellectual Declaration of Independence".
Emerson wrote most of his important essays as lectures first, then revised them for print. His first two collections of essays – Essays: First Series and Essays: Second Series, published respectively in 1841 and 1844 – represent the core of his thinking, and include such well-known essays as Self-Reliance, The Over-Soul, Circles, The Poet and Experience. Together with Nature, these essays made the decade from the mid-1830s to the mid-1840s Emerson's most fertile period.
Emerson wrote on a number of subjects, never espousing fixed philosophical tenets, but developing certain ideas such as individuality, freedom, the ability for humankind to realize almost anything, and the relationship between the soul and the surrounding world. Emerson's "nature" was more philosophical than naturalistic: "Philosophically considered, the universe is composed of Nature and the Soul."
His essays remain among the linchpins of American thinking, and his work has greatly influenced the thinkers, writers and poets that have followed him. When asked to sum up his work, he said his central doctrine was "the infinitude of the private man." Emerson is also well known as a mentor and friend of fellow Transcendentalist Henry David Thoreau.
- Massachusetts Historical Society - Edith Emerson Forbes and William Hathaway Forbes Papers and Additions 
- Death records: Massachusetts Vital Records, 1840–1911. New England Historic Genealogical Society, Boston, Massachusetts.
- Haskins, David G. Ralph Waldo Emerson, His Maternal Ancestors, With Some Reminiscences of Him (Cupples, Upham & Co., Boston, 1887)
- Find a Grave #320
Searching for someone else?
Do you have a GEDCOM? Login to have every name in your tree searched. It's free (like everything on WikiTree).
- Are Ralph Waldo Emerson and Joseph Emerson Worcester relatives? Jan 28, 2015.
- Quote of the Week (16 May 2014) May 17, 2014.
It may be possible to confirm family relationships with Ralph by comparing test results with other carriers of his Y-chromosome or his mother's mitochondrial DNA. However, there are no known yDNA test-takers in his direct paternal line. Mitochondrial DNA test-takers in the direct maternal line:
- Elizabeth (Sanger) Martin : Family Tree DNA mtDNA Test Full Sequence, haplogroup H1, FTDNA kit #260480
Have you taken a DNA test for genealogy? If so, login to add it. If not, see our friends at Family Tree DNA.
Images: 2 Collaboration
- Login to edit this profile.
- Private Messages: Send a private message to the Profile Manager. (Best when privacy is an issue.)
- Public Comments: Login to post. (Best for messages specifically directed to those editing this profile. Limit 20 per day.)
- Public Q&A: These will appear above and in the Genealogist-to-Genealogist (G2G) Forum. (Best for anything directed to the wider genealogy community.)
On 26 May 2014 at 12:30 GMT Maggie N. wrote:
Ralph is 16 degrees from Kevin Bacon, 22 degrees from Charlotte Brontë, 15 degrees from Bob Keniston, 22 degrees from Ben Kingsley and 17 degrees from Queen Elizabeth II Windsor on our single family tree. Login to find your connection.