Emerson s Liberalism explains why Ralph Waldo Emerson has been and remains the central literary voice of American culture: he gave ever-fresh and lasting expression to its most fundamental and widely shared liberal values. Liberalism, after all, is more than a political philosophy: it is a form of civilization, a set of values, a culture, a way of representing and living in the world. This book makes explicit what has long been implicit in America s embrace of Emerson. Neal Dolan offers the first comprehensive and historically informed exposition of all of Ralph Waldo Emerson s writings as a contribution to the theory and practice of liberal culture. Rather than projecting twentieth-century viewpoints onto the past, he restores Emerson s great body of work to the classical liberal contexts that most decisively shaped its general political-cultural outlook; the libertarian-liberalism of John Locke, the Scottish Enlightenment, the American founders, and the American Whigs. In addition to in-depth consideration of Emerson s journals and lectures, Dolan provides original commentary on many of Emerson s most celebrated published works, including Nature, the Divinity School Address, History, Compensation, Experience, the political addresses of the early 1840s, An Address . . . on . . . The Emancipation of the Negroes in the British West Indies, Representative Men, English Traits, and The Conduct of Life. He considers Emerson s distinctive elaborations of foundational liberal values: progress, reason, work, property, limited government, rights, civil society, liberty, commerce, and empiricism. And he argues that Emerson s ideas are a morally bracing and spiritually inspiring resource for the ongoing sustenance of American culture and civilization, reminding us of the depth, breadth, and strength of our common liberal inheritance.