Theodore Parker: Transcendentalist And Social Activist

1131 Words5 Pages
Theodore Parker Theodore Parker was an enthusiastic, aspiring man who devoted himself to a life of preaching and social action. In his vigorous challenge to religious dogmatism, his tireless anti-slavery stance, and his fight for women’s rights, he was decades ahead of his time. He played a major role in moving Unitarianism away from being a Bible-based faith, and he established a model for clerical activism that has inspired generations of liberal religious leaders. Though he remained a minister for most of his career, he was one of the most “theologically and socially active transcendentalist” (Amery). Parker was born August 24, 1810 in Lexington, Massachusetts, the youngest child of a large farming family. At 17, he taught school for…show more content…
He linked his politics to a vision, which he began to develop after his European trip, of America becoming “industrial democracy.” Its government would be a true democracy, as opposed to an aristocracy or a monarchy, when it was “of all the people, by the people, for all the people” (a concept that influenced Abraham Lincoln).Parker believed that the United States came closer to being an “industrial democracy than any other society in the world” (Grodzins 2002) but soon let go of that idea. Parker was involved with almost all of the reform movements of the time: “peace, temperance, education, the condition of women, penal legislation, prison discipline, the moral and mental destitution of the rich, the physical destitution of the poor” though none became “a dominant factor in his experience” with the exception of his antislavery views. Parker saw slavery as the greatest obstacle to achieving industrial democracy. He believed that slavery was one of the “main dangers of America” and that “it could be removed if men would recognize that the rights of a man should prevail over the rights of property” (Albrecht 112). He wrote to a southern slaveholder in 1848, as the abolition crisis was heating up and took a strong stance against slavery. He also denounced the Mexican War (1846-1848) as an attempt to expand slavery and advocated violating the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850. In 1854, Parker awaited his fate in the judicial system. During the Anthony Burns affair in which a fugitive slave had been captured, Parker would make a statement implying that the only means to obtain liberty was through non peaceful actions. It was statements like these which soon landed him in jail. When Parker was denied the opportunity to speak in court, he decided to publish his

    More about Theodore Parker: Transcendentalist And Social Activist

      Open Document