Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) never considered himself a political thinker. And yet he rose to prominence during one of the most turbulent times in U.S. history. As a result, political questions grew in importance for him, becoming by the 1860s one of his chief concerns as a public intellectual. In The Political Emerson, David M. Robinson has brought together for the first time the best of Emerson's numerous writings on politics and social reform.
About the Author
Herman Melville said that Ralph Waldo Emerson possessed a "self-conceit so intensely intellectual that at first one hesitates to call it by its right name," though he later admitted Emerson was "a great man." Both were probably true. The Sage of Concord gave more than 1500 speeches in his lifetime, and Self-Reliance is probably his most important work.
David M. Robinson is Robert H. N. Ho Professor in Asian Studies and History at Colgate University.
The Political Emerson, is another important contribution to the ongoing reevaluation of the most important cultural figure in nineteenth-century America. This collection specifically answers those critics who maintained for years that Emerson was an aloof philosopher, far removed from the political turmoil and social drama of the 'era of reform' in which he lived. Instead, we now see clearly that Emerson was at the epicenter of change, constantly urging his fellow citizens to insure that equality, freedom, and justice were the natural birthright of all Americans. It is a message well worth hearing again today. --Len Gougeon, author of Virtue's Hero: Emerson, Antislavery, and Reform
"Spirituality has political implications. It always has; it always will. As a minister, Emerson put spiritual integrity first-knowing that he could not thereby avoid the political concerns of his time. He saw all human beings as moral subjects and resisted treating them as mere objects. David Robinson, in this anthology, gives us Emerson as a relevant resource for the spiritually grounded political resistance still required today."--John Buehrens, author of Understanding the Bible: An Introduction for Skeptics, Seekers, and Religious Liberals