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CONCORD, MASSACHUSETTS

Crucible of American political and intellectual history, the town of Concord, Massachusetts was not only the cradle of American independence, but also the spiritual and actual home of the American Transcendentalists.

The Old North Bridge over the Concord River as it flows near the Old Manse.
The Old North Bridge over the Concord River as it flows past the Old Manse.
Situated nineteen miles from Boston alongthe old Lexington Road, Concord became the first battleground of the American Revolution, as Yankee militiamen alerted by Paul Revere, routed the British troupes at the Old North Bridge. Throughout the 19th century Concord exerted a formidable influence on American cultural life due to the extraordinary confluence of American literati and artists who took up residence there. Among them were Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Bronson Alcott and his daughter Louisa May, and Daniel Chester French--all of them buried on or near Authors' Ridge in Sleepy Hollow Cemetery. Visiting pilgrims like Margaret Fuller, Walt Whitman, and decades later, Charles Ives, came both to sip at the oracle's spring and to connect Concord with the larger American landscape.



Portrait of a Village
A Selected Chronology of People, Places, and Events in Concord's History


"Concord is a classic land. The names of Emerson and Thoreau and Channing and Hawthorne are associated with the fields and forests and lakes and rivers of this township."

Bronson Alcott


 1635  First settlers arrive and purchase land from the Native American inhabitants, signing a peace treaty; Reverend Peter Bulkeley, Emerson's great-great grandfather is first pastor
 1675  Indian uprisings and settlers' reprisals across the Bay Colony have repercussions in Concord 1776
 1775  Paul Revere rides from Boston to warn Lexington and Concord of advancing British; skirmishes at Lexington and on Concord's Old North Bridge begin the War for Independence; Emerson's grandfather Reverend William Emerson watches the fighting from the Old Manse
 1814  Ralph Waldo Emerson, 11, comes to live with his grandparents at the Old Manse during the war of 1812
 1817  Henry David Thoreau born in Concord
 1828  Thoreau enters Concord Academy
 1834 Emerson returns to settle permanently in Concord
 1835   Emerson marries Lydia Jackson of Plymouth and moves into the house on Cambridge Turnpike, his home for the rest of his life
 1837   Emerson's CONCORD HYMN sung at dedication of battle monument at Old North Bridge
 1838  Thoreau and his brother John found the private Concord Academy school
 1840  The Alcotts move to Concord after their Temple School in Boston fails; Margaret Fuller & Emerson collaborate to publish the first issue of the Transcendental journal, THE DIAL
 1842  Nathaniel Hawthorne and his bride Sophia Peabody rent the Old Manse
 1844  The Alcotts, who had left Concord in 1843 to try a communal living experiment at Fruitlands in Harvard, MA, return to live in Concord
 1844  Emerson purchases "a woodlot by Walden Pond;" the Fitchburg Railroad lays tracks along Walden Pond and into Concord
 1845  On July 4 Thoreau begins his two-year experiment living in a cabin on the Walden shores; Transcendentalist neighbors Bronson Alcott, Ellery Channing and Emerson help with the house-raising
 1846  Concord's Anti-Slavery society with Emerson and Thoreau in attendance meet on the doorstep of Thoreau's cabin in Walden; Hawthorne's collection of short stories, MOSSES FROM THE OLD MANSE, published
 1850  Margaret Fuller in the company of Bronson Alcott and Emerson visits Walden
 1852  The Hawthornes, after sojourns in Salem and Lenox, MA, return to Concord, purchasing the Alcotts' home and renaming it The Wayside
 1854  Thoreau publishes WALDEN; one of the most influential essays in all literature; it puts the Concord woods on the world map
 1857  The Alcotts, after some years in Walpole, CT, and Boston, return again to Concord where they eventually move into Orchard House with the Hawthornes as their neighbors
 1859  Bronson Alcott is appointed superintendent of the Concord schools
 1862  Thoreau dies of tuberculosis on May 6; Bronson Alcott dismissed the schools and hundreds followed his body to interment on Authors' Ridge at Sleepy Hollow Cemetery
 1864  Hawthorne died while visiting Plymouth on May 19; he was buried near Thoreau
 1868  Louisa May Alcott writes her most famous novel, LITTLE WOMEN, at Orchard House
 1872  Bronson Alcott begins cairn of stones at Walden cabin site; The Emerson home burns; the Alcott daughters help rescue the manuscripts as a shattered Emerson goes abroad
 1873  Emerson, 70, returns triumphally to Concord to find his home and library have been restored by his neighbors
 1875  Daniel Chester French's Minute Man statue is erected at the Old North Bridge to commemorate the centenary of the Battles of Lexington and Concord
 1879  Bronson Alcott establishes the Concord School of Philosophy for adult education; children's novelist Margaret Sidney (Harriet Lothrop) purchases The Wayside from Hawthorne heirs
 1881  Walt Whitman visits Emerson in Concord and walks the Walden woods
 1882  Emerson dies on April 27; an outpouring at his funeral; he is buried on Authors' Ridge
 1888  Bronson Alcott dies in Boston on May 4; Louisa May dies two days later on May 6 and is buried in the family plot in Concord
 1908  Charles Ives honeymoons with his bride, Harmony Twichell, in Concord
 1915  Ives completes his CONCORD Sonata with its four movements (EMERSON, HAWTHORNE, ALCOTT, AND THOREAU), incorporating his impressions of the visit and his own Transcendentalist leanings
 1922  The Emerson deed wills Walden to the state of Massachusetts
 1945  Archaeologist Roland Robbins unearthed the foundations of Thoreau's cabin
 1980  Walden Forever Wild environmental movement established to win Walden sanctuary status by the millennium

"Perhaps one spring morning when Adam and Eve were driven out of Eden ,Walden was already in existence. "

Henry David Thoreau


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