Industrialization was taking over America. People were working extra hard, and cities were becoming overcrowded.
A group of people began to grow in the belief that life should be appreciated beyond materialism. They wanted a life witnessed through spirituality that transcended materialism and rationality. Thus, the transcendentalist movement was born.
The Transcendentalists worked to spread their belief that people are fundamentally good, but were corrupted by the society of the day, and that they should work towards self-reliance
One famous Transcendentalist was Henry David Thoreau. He often voiced his opinions and beliefs. Thoreau lived in isolation on Walden Pond for over two years, chronicling the experience in a book.
In Walden, Thoreau wrote, "I went to the woods because I wanted to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and to see if i could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived."
Thoreau's book summarizes the main ideas of Transcendentalists; to live life simply and free of material greed is to open oneself to transcending spirituality, and to free oneself of societal corruption. The idea that people are good, when self-reliant and unaffected by societal norms, was their basis.