Ch.11 lecture notes - APUSH Chapter 11 Notes Religion and...

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APUSH Chapter 11 Notes Religion and Reform 1820–1860 I. Individualism A. Ralph Waldo Emerson and Transcendentalism 1. The reform movement reflected the social conditions and intellectual currents of American life; Alexis de Tocqueville coined the word individualism to describe the condition and values of native-born white Americans. 2. Ralph Waldo Emerson of New England was the leading spokesman for transcendentalism . 3. English romantics and Unitarian radicals believed in an ideal world; to reach this deeper reality, people had to transcend the rational ways in which they normally comprehended the world. 4. Emerson thought people were trapped in unquestioned and unexamined customs, institutions, and ways of thinking; remaking themselves depended on their discovery of their “original relation with Nature.” 5. Emerson’s genius lay in his capacity to translate vague ideas into examples that made sense to ordinary middle-class Americans. 6. Emerson believed that all nature was saturated with the presence of God, and he criticized the new industrial society, predicting that it would drain the nation’s spiritual energy. 7. Emerson’s message reached hundreds of thousands of people through writings and through lectures on the Lyceum circuit. 8. Emerson celebrated the individual who was liberated from social controls but remained a self-disciplined and responsible member of society. B. Emerson’s Literary Influence 1. Emerson urged American writers to celebrate democracy and individual freedom and to find inspiration in the familiar. 2. Henry David Thoreau heeded Emerson’s call and turned to nature for inspiration. In 1854 he published Walden , or Life in the Woods . 3. Thoreau became an advocate for social nonconformity and civil disobedience against unjust laws, both of which he practiced. 4. Margaret Fuller, also a writer, began a transcendental discussion group for elite Boston women and published Woman in the Nineteenth Century , which proclaimed that a “new era” was coming in the relations between men and women. 5. Fuller believed that women, like men, had a mystical relationship with God and that every woman deserved psychological and social independence. 6. In 1855 Walt Whitman—a teacher, journalist, and publicist for the Democratic Party—published the first edition of Leaves of Grass , which recorded his attempts to pass a number of “invisible boundaries.” 7. Whitman did not seek isolation but rather perfect communion with others; he celebrated democracy as well as himself, arguing that a poet could claim a profoundly intimate, mystical relationship with a mass audience.
8. Nathaniel Hawthorne ( The Scarlet Letter , 1850) and Herman Melville ( Moby- Dick , 1851) addressed the opposition between individualism and social order, discipline, and responsibility.

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