TeacherServe Essays

The Roots of Preservation: Emerson, Thoreau, and the Hudson River School

Author: Oelschlaeger, Max

Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, and the Hudson River School helped shape an emerging national identity. Viewed collectively, their work articulated America’s “coming of age,” a nation in the process of discovering itself as distinct from Europe. The writings of Emerson and Thoreau with the landscape paintings of the Hudson River School offered nuanced interpretations of the unique relations of the American people to the land. Clearly Emerson and the Hudson River painters believed that Nature gave proof of God’s Providence for the new nation—a theme readily understood, given the religious history of the colonists.

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Subjects: Art; Philosophy; Environment and Nature; Environmental Conservation; Landscape Painting; National Parks; Transcendentalism; Art Movements