“I think I could write a poem to be called Concord,” wrote writer and philosopher Henry David Thoreau. “For argument I should have the River, the Woods, the Ponds, the Hills, the Fields, the Swamps and Meadows, the Streets and Buildings, and the Villagers.” The town has changed little since Thoreau’s day, with the same distinguishing features surrounding a quaint downtown of shops and historic sights.
In addition to its role in the Revolution, Concord played another significant part in history some 60 years later, when it became the home base for a 19th-century literary and religious movement known as transcendentalism. Its proponents, among them Thoreau, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Bronson Alcott, believed in a new philosophy inspired by nature, replacing the formalistic theology they’d inherited from Europe. Their writings helped inspire the flowering of a truly American form of literature, as well as the modern environmental movement.