Self-Reliance Characters

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John Adams

Emerson refers to "great days and victories behind" that "shed a united light," which in turn "throws . . . America into Adams's eye." Emerson may be referring to John Adams (1735-1826), a revolutionary with a combative style who became the second president of the United States.

Samuel Adams

Samuel Adams (1722-1803) was a leader of the American Revolution who later served in Congress.

Alfred

Emerson asks, "Why all this deference to . . . Alfred?" He is referring to Alfred the Great (849-899), a Saxon king who kept the Danes from overrunning southwest England. Known for promoting literacy, Alfred valued learning.

Anaxagoras

A Greek philosopher of nature, Anaxagoras (circa 500-428 B.C.) discovered that solar eclipses were caused by the moon obscuring the sun. He attributed growth and development of organisms to power of mind. Emerson says that he was a great man.

Francis Bacon

Recognized by Emerson as an original...

(read more from the Key Figures section)

This section contains 1,772 words
(approx. 5 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy the Self-Reliance Study Guide
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Self-Reliance from Nonfiction Classics for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.