Important People of the American Renaissance 1820-1860


The American Renaissance period, circa 1876-1917, heralded a new sense of nationalism with a pride linking to a spirit akin to Greek democracy, the rule of Roman law, and a cultural and educational reform movement often referred to as Renaissance humanism. This American nationalism focused on the expression of modernism, technology, and academic classicism. Renaissance technological advancements include wire cables supporting the Brooklyn Bridge in the State of New York, along with cultural advancements found in the Prairie School houses, Beaux-Arts Institute of Design in architecture and sculpture. The political heir of American nationalism evolved with the Gilded Age and New Imperialism school of thought. The American Renaissance produced major influential literary works from some of the most brilliant minds in U.S. history, including Ralph Waldo Emerson's the "Representative Men (1850)", Nathaniel Hawthorne's "The Scarlett Letter (1850)" and "The House of Seven Gables (1851)," Herman Melville's "Moby-Dick," Henry David Thoreau's "Walden (1854)," and Walt Whitman's "Leaves of Grass (1855)."

American Renaissance Literary Masterpieces

The American Renaissance, a literary and cultural period circa extending from 1820 to the mid-1860s, gained inspiration from the unresolved issues of the American Revolution. The American Renaissance literary style was coined as "Romanticism," an international philosophical movement that redefined the perceptions of Western cultures, and seldom refers to the preconceived notions of love. Some important authors arising out of this era include: James Fenimore Cooper, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Harriet Jacobs, Emily Dickinson, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, Edgar Allen Poe, and Herman Melville. These brilliant scholars herald with American literature's hallmark of literary excellence expounding on the fundamentals of classical American tradition. The central key issues addressed women's suffrage, abolitionism, expansionist philosophies, such as Manifest Destiny or Mexican and Native American imperialistic conquest, and religious influential roots.

  • Nathaniel Hawthorne -- The House of Seven Gables (1851): An authoritative resource outlining the biography and works of the Romantic author Nathaniel Hawthorne, including a direct link to an online publication of the avowed "The House of Seven Gables," literary masterpiece.
  • Henry David Thoreau -- Walden (1854): A thorough and complete study guide to Henry David Thoreau's "Walden," which accounts a two-year account of Thoreau's life at Walden Pond; however, the literary masterpiece does not directly reflect Thoreau's life in the tone of a biography or journalistic narrative.

Other Top Literary Works of The American Renaissance Era

The term describing the cultural and literary movement known as the "American Renaissance" was coined in 1941 by F.O. Matthiessen in his book, "American Renaissance: Art and Expression in the Age of Emerson and Whitman." Other scholars criticized the overemphasis on white male authors, which eventually redefined the spectrum of renowned authors originating from the Romantic period. The narrow exclusivity began to deteriorate toward the end of the 20th century, while beckoning the call of women literary geniuses, such as Emily Dickinson, Harriet Beecher Stowe, and Margaret Fuller. African-American literature also gained popularity with literary masterpieces authored from the likes of Frederick Douglass and Harriet Jacobs.

  • Emily Dickinson -- Poetry: An overview of Emily Dickinson's biography, poems, themes and general, experimental writing style, including commentary and syllabus curricula.

America from 1820 to 1860

The United States went through a pivotal hallmark in history ranging from the time span of 40 years (1820 to 1860). Fierce social and cultural reform, including philosophical frame-of-thought emerged that would shape a historical knock-out unparalleled since the American Revolution. The abolition of slavery, women's suffrage of women's rights movement, Manifest Destiny, and the literal change of American identity began to take root for sake of expansion and equality.

  • Pre-Civil War American Culture: The American Renaissance: A historical overview of the cultural reformation and philosophical thought engulfing pre-Civil
    War America.
  • Abolition of Slavery: A detailed presentation on the influential of abolitionist movement in pre-Civil War America.
  • Women's Suffrage: A historical account of the women's suffrage movement and its influence on the American Renaissance period.
  • President Abraham Lincoln: Digitized source material covering U.S. President Abraham Lincoln, a prime influential figure for the political, cultural, and philosophical reformation of the American Renaissance era.

The American Renaissance period brought about major cultural, social, political, and philosophical change. Pioneers who stood for the abolition of slavery, women's suffrage, expansion, and literary experimentalism challenged and withstood opposition to those comfortable with the old social order. These developments continue to influence our society today, despite overcoming major obstacles within the last century. Only we can take advantage of present opportunities to influence and bring about positive change for future generations.