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This interlinked hypertext was created in Spring 1999 at Virginia Commonwealth University for Professor Ann Woodlief's graduate class in Studies in American Transcendentalism. We are in the process of moving the site to a more stable form, which you are viewing. If you would like to view the original site it is located at transcendentalism-legacy.tamu.edu

Social Reform: Abolition

Although Transcendentalists generally asserted that reforms of society must begin within the individual conscience, they also realized that the entrenched institution of slavery called for immediate action, especially when it directly affected Massachusetts. Their actions were varied and in the form of words. Thoreau's "Resistance to Civil Government" was energized by the Mexican war as an effort to add more slave states; Thoreau was radicalized by the passing of the Fugitive Slave Act and his encounter with John Brown.

Web Site Paradise [To Be] Regained

Thoreau, 1843. Although not about communities, this is a critique of one scheme of social reform.

Social Reform: Communities

Transcendentalists called for the moral reform of the individual. While the major transcendentalists, Emerson and Thoreau, strongly believed in individuality, some of the less known transcendentalists came together in groups that varied from eight to over a hundred members and formed communities in which they tried to live and work cooperatively. It is interesting that the most well known transcendentalists never showed interest in the communities. Thoreau did not speak of Brook Farm, and Emerson wished the Brook Farmers well but declined membership.

Transcendental Ideas--Social and Political Reform

"In the history of the world the doctrine of Reform had never such scope as the present hour," Emerson in the Dial.

Transcendence: The Yin and Yang of Emerson and Goethe

[W]e are now men, and must accept in the highest mind the same transcendent destiny; and not pinched in a corner, not cowards fleeing before a revolution, but redeemers, and benefactors, pious aspirants to be noble clay plastic under the Almighty effort, let us advance on Chaos and the Dark. (Emerson, 1161)

Review of "Excursions"

Many readers of Walden are not aware of Thoreau's thoughtful essays on nature, most of which grew out of his daily walks around Concord. They are rarely published, and were never gathered by Thoreau before his early death. This collection lets more readers judge them for their own remarkable qualities, related to Walden yet unique and the inspiration for much of the nature writing done today.

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