Henry Thoreau was born in Concord, Massachusetts to a successful pencil manufacturer John Thoreau and a strong-willed, quick-witted mother, Cynthia. Early on Henry enjoyed reading books and observing nature in solitude. He inherited the gift of gab and intellectual inquiry from his mother as well as both Puritan and abolitionist ideals. In 1837 he graduated from Harvard. In 1841 Henry moved into Ralph Waldo Emerson's home.
Emerson was a prominent writer and philosopher of the time famous for his transcendentalist view on life and God. Transcendentalism divided the universe into "Nature and Soul" and classified people as either "Materialists or Idealists" (Schneider, 1987). Transcendentalists disagreed with John Locke's "blank slate" theory of human development believing rather that we are, "born with certain innate ideas that provide a direct connection between the child and God." Therefore, a transcendentalist should "hold oneself above merely material concerns and to focus one's energies on attaining moral and spiritual excellence." (Schneider, 1987). Thoreau held these ideals very close to his heart. Even as a boy he had...
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...rded as one of America's major literary thinkers. As a naturalist Thoreau's ideas of"interconnectedness" and a need for preservation would spring up later in the country's efforts to 'Conserve' and respect the remaining wilderness. And perhaps Thoreau's greatest achievement was convincing a nation that Freedom is within us all and no man or government has the power to deny us our destiny.
Richardson, Robert D. Jr. (1986). Henry Thoreau: A Life of the Mind. University of
California Press, 455p.
Schneider, Richard J. (1987). Henry David Thoreau. Twayne Publishers, 179p.
http://www.biography.com/cgi-bin/biomain.cgi. Henry David Thoreau.
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/aia/part4/4p2940.html. John Brown.
http://www.constitutuion.org/civ/civildis.htm. On the Duty of Civil Disobedience by
Henry David Thoreau.
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