Chapter 6: the Transcendentalists
To understand the literary leadership of New England
during the thirty years immediately preceding the Civil War
it is necessary to recall the characteristics of a somewhat isolated and peculiar people.
The mental and moral traits of the New England
colonists, already glanced at in an earlier chapter, had suffered little essential modification in two hundred years. The original racial stock was still dominant.
As compared with the middle and southern colonies, there was relatively little immigration, and this was easily assimilated.
The physical remoteness of New England
from other sections of the country, and the stubborn loyalty with which its inhabitants maintained their own standards of life, alike contributed to their sense of separateness.
It is true, of course, that their mode of thinking and feeling had undergone certain changes.
They were among the