George Ripley was a U.S. journalist and reformer and Unitarian minister born in Greenfield, Mass.
The social reform of the 1800s was cause by the belief that social reforms were needed to improve society. Churches and social groups set up charities to aid the poor and teach them how to help themselves. Reformers worked to reduce the working day from the usual 12 or 14 hours to 10 hours. Prohibitionists convinced that drunkenness was the main cause of poverty and other problems persuaded 13 states to outlaw the sale of alcohol. Other important targets of reformers were women's rights, improvements in education and the abolition of slavery. The belief was that America was falling apart, and drastic changes needed to be made in order for people to be happy.
Ripley graduated from Harvard College in 1823 and from Harvard Divinity School in 1826. Upon become the pastor of a newly formed church in Boston; he established a ministry in which theological scholarship was an important part.
At the time, he was also a regular writer for the Christian Examiner, the leading Unitarian theological journal. In all his writing, he took on a view of religious truth as intuitive, which followed the views of transcendentalism.
A philosophy, which holds that basic truths can be reached through intuition rather than through reason. To arrive at such truths, according to transcendentalist philosophy, people must go beyond, or transcend, what their reason and their senses tell them. Transcendentalist thinkers, influenced by European Romanticism, stress the beauty of nature, the essential divinity of all people, and the primary importance of the human spirit. Transcendentalism was developed in the 1830s and 1840s by Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, and the thinkers who met with them in Concord, Massachussttes in meetings of Transcendental Club, which Ripley...