William Torrey Harris, 1835 - 1909

William Torrey Harris--an American educator, administrator, lecturer, editor, and philosopher--was one of the most significant second-generation Transcendentalists and was especially influential in popularizing Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel in the second half of the nineteenth century.  Like Amos Bronson Alcott, Harris became a superintendent of schools (in St. Louis, Missouri) and devoted much time and effort to educational reform.  He supported the kindergarten movement inaugurated in Germany by Friedrich Froebel (1782 - 1852) and in 1873 succeeded in establishing a kindergarten as part of public education in St. Louis.  He was also instrumental in founding the St. Louis Philosophical Society in 1866 and the Journal of Speculative Philosophy in 1867.  This publication quickly became the organ of the American Hegelians as well as the most important philosophical journal in the United States for the next decade and beyond.  Harris remained unfaltering in his appreciation and praise of his spiritual mentor Alcott.  He encouraged Alcott to publish in the Journal of Speculative Philosophy, and Alcott, for his part, considered this periodical the "fittest organ" for publishing his writings and believed Harris the readiest of his contemporaries to comprehend and appreciate his speculations.
In 1879 Harris became a faculty member at the first session of Alcott's famous Concord School of Philosophy, where he lectured primarily on Hegel.  In 1880 he moved to Concord, Massachusetts and in 1884 purchased Alcott's former residence there, Orchard House.  He heartily participated in all the summer meetings of the Concord School of Philosophy until its close in 1888, when Alcott died.  He and Franklin Benjamin Sanborn then published a two-volume biography and memoir, A. Bronson Alcott: His Life and Philosophy (1893).