Frederic Henry Hedge, 1805 - 1890

Frederic Henry Hedge was a Unitarian minister, denominational leader, literary editor and critic, author, lecturer, university professor, premiere German scholar, and member of the Transcendental Club.  Having studied in Germany from 1818 to 1822, Hedge adopted the transcendental philosophy at least a decade before the other New England Transcendentalists--a point he later made in a letter to Caroline H. Dall: "I was the first in this country, to the best of my knowledge, to move in that direction."  Hedge wrote five noteworthy articles in the Christian Examiner in 1833 and 1834, among them one on Samuel Taylor Coleridge's Biographia Literaria and one on Emanuel Swedenborg.  These skillful and sympathetic expositions of German thought were highly influential in Massachusetts and galvanized the emerging Transcendental movement.  Ralph Waldo Emerson, in fact, was so moved by Hedge's articles in 1833 that he praised Hedge as having "just written the best pieces that have appeared in the Examiner; one was a living, leaping Logos, & he may help me."  Throughout his life, Hedge acted as an intellectual radical while simultaneously remaining an ecclesiastical conservative.  Among his many writings, his book Reason in Religion (1865) stands out as an essential document of moderate Transcendentalism and a major work on liberal religion and Transcendental Christianity.