Examine the significance of the effects of the Transcendentalist movement.

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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I think that a good argument can be made that one of the most significant effects of Transcendentalism was for individuals to follow their own voice.  The ideas of thinkers like Whitman, Dickinson, Thoreau, and Emerson seemed to resonate along the lines of individual thought.  These thinkers praised the individual capacity to think and the individual voice in taking action.  This becomes one of the most profound effects of Transcendentalism is that in a commercial world where conformity was becoming the norm, Transcendentalism praised the ideas of individuals finding their own voice and activating it.  In a larger sense, the effect of this was to frame the time period as one of reform.  The age of reform that was such a part of the 19th Century, pre- Civil War America was one in which different sets of rights were pursued.  The Transcendentalist call for individual freedom and action was seen as a vivid indictment of slavery, helping to greatly effect the abolitionist movement of the time.  The call for individuals rebelling against a social order that was unjust helped to feed the call for women's rights, as evidenced in the writings and work of Anthony and Cady Stanton.  Another effect of Transcendentalism was to demand that individuals seek to find another form of living as opposed to merely accepting what the condition of established being seemed to indicate.  When thinkers like Thoreau and Emerson demand an adherence to self- reliance or rejecting the conformist notions of the good, it can be seen as greatly affecting the need to demand reform and change in multiple venues.  It is here where I see the Transcendentalist movement having lasting effects in the time period.

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