The transcendentalists lived mostly in or around New England during the years shortly before the Civil War. The prevalent state of mind at that time was that religion (Jewish and Christian) was something rooted in dogma which simply must have been true, for it had been practiced that way for years. However, the transcendentalists dared to dig beneath---nay, beyond--the doctrines and explore sacred texts and canons outside of tradition, as well as explore their own spirituality. The transcendentalists sought to rebel against typical European classic and contemporary literature, to diverge from the dry, crumbling tomes of old and dip their fingers into romance and adventure and every other little brook sketching out across this new (or reborn) frontier, fiction, of personal spiritual exploration, of peculiarly poetic prose pondering on creation, nature, whatever surrounded him or her...
...Those around the transcendentalists were not so bold. They preferred to stay within the confines of their strictly corseted literature, where they were safe from marring influences that could taint the purity of their perfect art. They were frightened of rebuke, and thus they mocked the transcendentalists and all they stood for, never bothering to step beyond what they, their parents, and their parents' parents had been raised on from the breast on up to adulthood. The transcendentalists scorned such sheeply thinking in their own way, slapping the fleshy red cheek of the slave-owning, high-hat, dogma-pushing, nationalistic, jingoistic, verging-on-capitalist matron that was 19th century American society.
"As a single footstep will not make a path on the earth, so a single thought will not make a pathway in the mind. To make a deep physical path, we walk again and again. To make a deep mental path, we must think over and over the kind of thoughts we wish to dominate our lives."
~Henry David Thoreau