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Ralph Waldo Emerson

Ralph Waldo Emerson was a highly educated American lecturer and essayist, considered a leader in the genre of writing known as Transcendentalism. Many of his most important ideas were often presented first as lectures, then refined over time and published as essays. But he reversed the order with his first landmark work, his ground-breaking essay, Nature, which was published in 1836. and then followed by his 1837 speech The American Scholar. Interestingly, Nature, was first published anonymously.

Like Ben Franklin before him, Emerson subscribed to moderation and self-improvement. In Emerson's hands, a periodic gathering of other intellectuals grew into the Transcendental Club. Early meetings included Margaret Fuller, who would become an important figure in the Transcendental movement as well. Emerson's association with Henry David Thoreau also seems to have budded around 1837.