Who were the chief proponents of the Transcendentalist movement?
The chief proponent of the Transcendentalist movement was Ralph Waldo Emerson, whose essays and lectures formed the foundation for the movement, particularly its emphasis on the individual and on social activism. Another important, and arguably even more famous, Transcendentalist was Henry David Thoreau, who became prominent for "Civil Disobedience" and Walden, which argued for resistance to unjust acts of government and a more simplified way of life, respectively.
Many other writers, thinkers, and activists were influenced by Transcendentalism, however, including Margaret Fuller, an early advocate for women's rights and Bronson Alcott, an education activist and philosopher. Other authors who may be classed as "Transcendentalist" at some point in their careers include Walt Whitman, Nathaniel Hawthorn, Edgar Allan Poe, and even Emily Dickinson. Indeed, many of the major reform movements of the early nineteenth century, including utopian communities, abolition, prison reform, temperance, and women's rights owed their moral force in part to the Transcendentalist ideal.