A dramatic retelling of the story of the Transcendentalists, revealing them not as isolated authors but social activists whose spiritual friendships helped to shape progressive American values.
In the tumultuous decades before and immediately after the Civil War, the Transcendentalists changed 19th century America, leading what Theodore Parker called "a Second American Revolution." If they had a geographic center, it was in urban Boston.
This dynamic group biography illuminates the connections between key members of the Transcendentalist circle--including James Freeman Clarke, Elizabeth Peabody, Caroline Healey Dall, Elizabeth Stanton, Thomas Wentworth Higginson, Theodore Parker, and Margaret Fuller--that created a community dedicated to radical social activism. They fought for the abolition of slavery, democratically governed churches, equal rights for women, and against the dehumanizing effects of brutal economic competition and growing social inequality.
More than anything, the Transcendentalists believed in the practice of spiritual friendship -- transcending differences in social situation, gender, class, theology, and race. They understood that that none of us can ever fulfill our own moral and spiritual potential unless we care about the full spiritual and moral flourishing of others.