The poet and essayist, Ralph Waldo Emerson was born on May 25, 1803 in Boston, MA. Emerson was the son of the prominent Unitarian minister, William Emerson and Ruth Haskins Emerson. As a child, Emerson’s family endured tough economic situations because William Emerson died while Ralph Waldo Emerson was young. Emerson followed in his father’s footsteps by attending the Boston Latin School and Harvard College (Grolier Online). After graduating from Harvard, Emerson taught at a girl’s school for 4 years and then returned to Harvard to study divinity. The next year, Emerson got his license to preach. In 1829, he became a pastor of the Second Church of Boston. In 1828, Emerson married 19-year-old poet, Ellen Tucker, who died in 1831 of Tuberculosis. In 1835, after suffering religious and personal crises, Emerson married Lydia Jackson and had 4 children.
Later on, Emerson became a successful lecturer and then a leader of transcendentalism. In 1836, Emerson published the first of many books which he entitled, Nature. Later, Emerson also published the essay, “Self- Reliance” (1841), Essays: Second Series (1844), Poems (1847), and more. By 1850, Emerson became a political activist who spoke out against slavery and advocated for women’s rights. Later on, Emerson was elected to the Harvard board of overseers. On April 27, 1882, Emerson died from Pneumonia.
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