Do you have a poet in your family tree? On this day in 1803, American essayist and poet Ralph Waldo Emerson was born in Boston, Massachusetts.
The son of Rev. William Emerson and Ruth Haskins, Emerson was named after his mother’s brother Ralph and his father’s great grandmother, Rebecca Waldo. He is descended from Mayflower passengers John Howland and Elizabeth Tilley. In fact, he carried the mitochondrial DNA of Tilley, since he is descended from an entirely female line.
Considered one of the most influential thinkers of the 19th century, Emerson was known as a leader of the Transcendentalist movement. A champion of individualism, Emerson outlined his Transcendentalist views in his 1836 essay, “Nature.” He espoused the spiritual connection with nature and believed that people possessed an inherent goodness that was corrupted by society and its institutions.
Explore Ralph Waldo Emerson’s family tree and discover how you’re related to the poet!
Image: Library of Congress