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Previous honorable mention recipients are eligible to enter. Embassy: Diplomacy at Work. We appreciate your willingness to contribute. Emerson anonymously published his first essay, "Nature", on September 9, A year later, on August 31, , he delivered his now-famous Phi Beta Kappa address, " The American Scholar ",  then entitled "An Oration, Delivered before the Phi Beta Kappa Society at Cambridge"; it was renamed for a collection of essays which included the first general publication of "Nature" in In , Emerson befriended Henry David Thoreau.
Though they had likely met as early as , in the fall of , Emerson asked Thoreau, "Do you keep a journal? Some scholars consider the journal to be Emerson's key literary work. In March , Emerson gave a series of lectures on the philosophy of history at the Masonic Temple in Boston. This was the first time he managed a lecture series on his own, and it was the beginning of his career as a lecturer.
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He eventually gave as many as 80 lectures a year, traveling across the northern United States as far as St. Louis, Des Moines, Minneapolis, and California. On July 15, ,  Emerson was invited to Divinity Hall, Harvard Divinity School , to deliver the school's graduation address, which came to be known as the " Divinity School Address ". Emerson discounted biblical miracles and proclaimed that, while Jesus was a great man, he was not God: historical Christianity, he said, had turned Jesus into a "demigod, as the Orientals or the Greeks would describe Osiris or Apollo".
He was denounced as an atheist  and a poisoner of young men's minds. Despite the roar of critics, he made no reply, leaving others to put forward a defense. He was not invited back to speak at Harvard for another thirty years. The transcendental group began to publish its flagship journal, The Dial , in July In Emerson published Essays , his second book, which included the famous essay "Self-Reliance". This book, and its popular reception, more than any of Emerson's contributions to date laid the groundwork for his international fame.
In January Emerson's first son, Waldo, died of scarlet fever. In the same month, William James was born, and Emerson agreed to be his godfather. Bronson Alcott announced his plans in November to find "a farm of a hundred acres in excellent condition with good buildings, a good orchard and grounds". So we fell apart", he wrote. The Dial ceased publication in April ; Horace Greeley reported it as an end to the "most original and thoughtful periodical ever published in this country".
In , Emerson published his second collection of essays, Essays: Second Series. This collection included "The Poet", "Experience", "Gifts", and an essay entitled "Nature", a different work from the essay of the same name. Emerson made a living as a popular lecturer in New England and much of the rest of the country. He had begun lecturing in ; by the s he was giving as many as 80 lectures per year.
Emerson spoke on a wide variety of subjects, and many of his essays grew out of his lectures. This was more than his earnings from other sources. He wrote that he was "landlord and waterlord of 14 acres, more or less".
Emerson was introduced to Indian philosophy through the works of the French philosopher Victor Cousin. One of the clearest examples of this can be found in his essay " The Over-soul ":. We live in succession, in division, in parts, in particles. Meantime within man is the soul of the whole; the wise silence; the universal beauty, to which every part and particle is equally related, the eternal ONE.
And this deep power in which we exist and whose beatitude is all accessible to us, is not only self-sufficing and perfect in every hour, but the act of seeing and the thing seen, the seer and the spectacle, the subject and the object, are one. We see the world piece by piece, as the sun, the moon, the animal, the tree; but the whole, of which these are shining parts, is the soul. The central message Emerson drew from his Asian studies was that "the purpose of life was spiritual transformation and direct experience of divine power, here and now on earth.
In —48, he toured the British Isles. When he arrived, he saw the stumps of trees that had been cut down to form barricades in the February riots. On May 21, he stood on the Champ de Mars in the midst of mass celebrations for concord, peace and labor.
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His book English Traits is based largely on observations recorded in his travel journals and notebooks. Emerson later came to see the American Civil War as a "revolution" that shared common ground with the European revolutions of The act of Congress is a law which every one of you will break on the earliest occasion—a law which no man can obey, or abet the obeying, without loss of self-respect and forfeiture of the name of gentleman. This filthy enactment was made in the nineteenth century by people who could read and write. I will not obey it.
Walt Whitman published the innovative poetry collection Leaves of Grass in and sent a copy to Emerson for his opinion. Emerson responded positively, sending Whitman a flattering five-page letter in response. Ralph Waldo Emerson, in the summer of , would venture into the great wilderness of upstate New York.
William James Stillman was a painter and founding editor of an art journal called the Crayon. Stillman was born and grew up in Schenectady which was just south of the Adirondack mountains. He would later travel there to paint the wilderness landscape and to fish and hunt. He would share his experiences in this wilderness to the members of the Saturday Club, raising their interest in this unknown region.
James Russell Lowell  and William Stillman would lead the effort to organize a trip to the Adirondacks. They would begin their journey on August 2, , traveling by train, steam boat, stagecoach and canoe guide boats. News that these cultured men were living like "Sacs and Sioux" in the wilderness appeared in newspapers across the nation. This would become known as the " Philosophers Camp  ". This event was a landmark in the 19th-century intellectual movement, linking nature with art and literature.
Although much has been written over many years by scholars and biographers of Emerson's life, little has been written of what has become known as the "Philosophers Camp". Yet, his epic poem "Adirondac"  reads like a journal of his day to day detailed description of adventures in the wilderness with his fellow members of the Saturday Club.
This two week camping excursion in the Adirondacks brought him face to face with a true wilderness, something he spoke of in his essay "Nature"  published in He said, "in the wilderness I find something more dear and connate than in streets or villages". Emerson was staunchly opposed to slavery, but he did not appreciate being in the public limelight and was hesitant about lecturing on the subject. He did, however, give a number of lectures during the pre-Civil War years, beginning as early as November, He gave a number of speeches and lectures, and notably welcomed John Brown to his home during Brown's visits to Concord.
Around this time, in , Emerson published The Conduct of Life , his seventh collection of essays.
The return of history
In this book, Emerson "grappled with some of the thorniest issues of the moment," and "his experience in the abolition ranks is a telling influence in his conclusions. Emerson visited Washington, D. C, at the end of January He gave a public lecture at the Smithsonian on January 31, , and declared:, "The South calls slavery an institution I call it destitution Emancipation is the demand of civilization".
Lincoln was familiar with Emerson's work, having previously seen him lecture. Chase, the secretary of the treasury; Edward Bates, the attorney general; Edwin M. Stanton, the secretary of war; Gideon Welles, the secretary of the navy; and William Seward, the secretary of state. Emerson delivered his eulogy. He often referred to Thoreau as his best friend,  despite a falling-out that began in after Thoreau published A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers. Emerson served as a pallbearer when Hawthorne was buried in Concord, as Emerson wrote, "in a pomp of sunshine and verdure".
Starting in , Emerson's health began declining; he wrote much less in his journals. In the spring of , Emerson took a trip on the transcontinental railroad , barely two years after its completion. Along the way and in California he met a number of dignitaries, including Brigham Young during a stopover in Salt Lake City. Part of his California visit included a trip to Yosemite , and while there he met a young and unknown John Muir , a signature event in Muir's career. Emerson's Concord home caught fire on July 24, He called for help from neighbors and, giving up on putting out the flames, all attempted to save as many objects as possible.
While the house was being rebuilt, Emerson took a trip to England, continental Europe, and Egypt. He left on October 23, , along with his daughter Ellen  while his wife Lidian spent time at the Old Manse and with friends. The problems with his memory had become embarrassing to Emerson and he ceased his public appearances by As Holmes wrote, "Emerson is afraid to trust himself in society much, on account of the failure of his memory and the great difficulty he finds in getting the words he wants.
It is painful to witness his embarrassment at times".
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