Ralph Waldo Emerson was the president of the Transcendental Club and is said to have led the Transcendentalist movement in America. The members of the Transcendental Club included literary figures Nathaniel Hawthorne, Walt Whitman, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and Henry David Thoreau.
Transcendentalism is the idea that people have knowledge about themselves and the world around them that goes further than what they are able to feel, touch, hear, taste and see. People gain this knowledge through their intuition and imagination. Emerson, a Harvard-educated lecturer and essayist, made many contributions to Transcendentalism, which inspired American idealism and the spirit of reform.