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Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803–1882) was an American essayist and poet. Born in Boston, Massachusetts, Emerson was the fourth child of a Unitarian minister. He graduated from Harvard Divinity School and served as junior pastor in Boston’s Second Church. After the death of his first wife, Emerson began to question his theological commitments. He resigned from his pastoral position in 1832, writing in his journal, “I have sometimes thought that, in order to be a good minister, it was necessary to leave the ministry.” Emerson began a new career as a speaker on the Lyceum circuit, where traveling lectures and debates were presented before eager American audiences. Many of Emerson’s famous essays grew out of these popular lectures. Emerson’s early book, Nature (1836/1982b), served as the ...

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