Ralph Waldo Emerson’s American Vision

ralph-waldo-emersonAmerican Minute with Bill Federer


WILLIAM LLOYD GARRISON published the Boston anti-slavery paper “Liberator” and founded the American Anti-Slavery Society in 1833.

Suffering hundreds of death threats for his politically incorrect stand on the value of human life, William Lloyd Garrison died MAY 24, 1879.

William Lloyd Garrison wrote:

“I desire to thank God, that he enables me to disregard ‘the fear of man which bringeth a snare,’ and to speak his truth in its simplicity and power.

And here I close with this fresh dedication…

I swear, while life-blood warms my throbbing veins,
Still to oppose and thwart, with heart and hand,
Thy brutalizing sway – till Afric’s chains Are burst,
and Freedom rules the rescued land,
Trampling Oppression and his iron rod:
Such is the vow I take-SO HELP ME GOD!”

In “W.P. and F.J.T. Garrison,” 1885-89, William Lloyd Garrison wrote:

“Wherever there is a human being, I see God-given rights inherent in that being, whatever may be the sex or complexion.”

Former slave Frederick Douglass wrote in My Bondage and My Freedom, 1855:

“After reaching New Bedford, there came a young man to me with a copy of the Liberator…edited by William Lloyd Garrison…

…His paper took its place with me next to the Bible…

…It detested slavery…and, with all the solemnity of God’s word, demanded the complete emancipation of my race…

His words were…holy fire… The Bible was his text book… Prejudice against color was rebellion against God.”

Another abolitionist prior to the Civil War was poet HENRY DAVID THOREAU.

Henry David Thoreau wrote in Civil Disobedience, 1849:

“That government is best which governs least.”

A contemporary of Thoreau was poet RALPH WALDO EMERSON, who wrote similarly:

“The less government we have, the better.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson continued:

“The fewer laws…the less confided power.

The antidote to this abuse of formal Government, is, the influence of private character, the growth of the Individual.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson was born MAY 25, 1803.

He was friends with the famous writers Louisa May Alcott and Nathaniel Hawthorne.

Ralph Waldo Emerson composed some of the best loved poems in American literature, including The Concord Hymn, of which a stanza is inscribed on the base of Daniel Chester French’s Minute Man Statue:

“By the rude bridge that arched the flood,
Their flag to April’s breeze unfurled;
Here once the embattled farmers stood;
And fired the shot heard round the world.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson commented on John Quincy Adams:

“No man could read the Bible with such powerful effect, even with the cracked and winded voice of old age.”

In 1848, Ralph Waldo Emerson visited Paris between the February Revolution and the bloody June Days.

When he saw that mobs had cut down trees near the Champ de Mars to form barricades across downtown city streets, he wrote in his journal:

“At the end of the year we shall…see if the Revolution was worth the trees.”

When abolitionist publisher Elijah Lovejoy was murdered in 1838 and his printing press destroyed, Ralph Waldo Emerson said:

“It is but the other day that the brave Lovejoy gave his breast to the bullets of a mob, for the rights of free speech and opinion.”

Emerson stated:

“I think we must get rid of slavery, or we must get rid of freedom.”

Abolitionist Senator Charles Sumner took Ralph Waldo Emerson to the White House to meet Abraham Lincoln.

Having voted for the Republican President Lincoln, Emerson stated of the Democrat South in a lecture at the Smithsonian, Washington, D.C.:

“The South calls slavery an institution… I call it destitution… Emancipation is the demand of civilization.”

In 1865, Ralph Waldo Emerson remarked at a memorial service for Abraham Lincoln:

“I doubt if any death has caused so much pain as this has caused.”

On September 12, 2001, the day after fundamentalist Muslims committed terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, Congressman J.C. Watts, Jr., quoted Emerson:

“Politics has taken the day off.

Today Congress remembers and recognizes the afflicted and the sorrowing and those who come to the aid of their fellow man. Ralph Waldo Emerson, in 1842, captured what we are thinking as a nation today:

‘Sorrow makes us all children again,
destroys all differences of intellect.
The wisest knows nothing.'”

In May-Day and Other Pieces (1867), Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote:

Boston Hymn, st. 2-
“God said, I am tired of kings,
I suffer them no more;
Up to my ear the morning brings
The outrage of the poor.”

Voluntaries III-
“So nigh is grandeur to our dust,
So near is God to man,
When Duty whispers low, Thou must,
The youth replies, I can.”

Ode, st. 5 –
“United States! the ages plead, –
Present and Past in under-song, –
Go put your creed into your deed,
Nor speak with double tongue.”

“Wilt thou seal up the avenues of ill?
Pay every debt as if God wrote the bill.”

In The Conduct of Life (1860), Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote:

Fate-“Men are what their mothers made them.”

Regarding civilization, Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote:

“The true test of civilization is, not the census, nor the size of the cities, nor the crops – no, but the kind of man the country turns out.”

In Social Aims, Emerson wrote:

“Life is not so short but that there is always time enough for courtesy.”

In The American Scholar (1837), Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote:

“In how many churches, by how many prophets, tell me, is man made sensible that he is an infinite Soul; that the earth and heavens are passing into his mind; that he is drinking forever the soul of God?”

Ralph Waldo Emerson stated:

“All I have seen has taught me to trust the Creator for all I have not seen.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote:

“America is another name for opportunity.

Our whole history appears like a last effort of divine Providence in behalf of the human race.”

Bill FedererSelf-Educated American Contributing Editor, William J. Federer, is the bestselling author of “Backfired: A Nation Born for Religious Tolerance no Longer Tolerates Religion,” and numerous other books. A frequent radio and television guest, his daily American Minute is broadcast nationally via radio, television, and Internet. Check out all of Bill’s bookshere.

If you haven’t yet, invest in one or Bill Federer’s latest books

Invite Bill Federer to speak: 1-888-USA-WORD[email protected]www.AmericanMinute.com