Amos Bronson Alcott

Philosopher, Author

1799 – 1888

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Who was Amos Bronson Alcott?

Amos Bronson Alcott was an American teacher, writer, philosopher, and reformer. As an educator, Alcott pioneered new ways of interacting with young students, focusing on a conversational style, and avoided traditional punishment. He hoped to perfect the human spirit and, to that end, advocated a vegan diet before the term was coined. He was also an abolitionist and an advocate for women's rights.

Born in Connecticut in 1799, Alcott had only minimal formal schooling before attempting a career as a traveling salesman. Worried about how the itinerant life might negatively impact his soul, he turned to teaching. His innovative methods, however, were controversial, and he rarely stayed in one place very long. His most well-known teaching position was at the Temple School in Boston. His experience there was turned into two books: Records of a School and Conversations with Children on the Gospels. Alcott became friends with Ralph Waldo Emerson and became a major figure in transcendentalism. His writings on behalf of that movement, however, are heavily criticized for being incoherent. Based on his ideas for human perfection, Alcott founded Fruitlands, a transcendentalist experiment in community living. The project was short-lived and failed after seven months. Alcott continued to struggle financially for most of his life. Nevertheless, he continued focusing on educational projects and opened a new school at the end of his life in 1879. He died in 1888.

Famous Quotes:

  • The less routine the more life.
  • That is a good book which is opened with expectation, and closed with delight and profit.
  • Our notion of the perfect society embraces the family as its center and ornament, and this paradise is not secure until children appear to animate and complete the picture.
  • The true teacher defends his pupils against his own personal influence. He inspires self-distrust. He guides their eyes from himself to the spirit that quickens him. He will have no disciple.
  • The surest sign of age is loneliness.
  • Our ideals are our better selves.
  • Thought means life, since those who do not think so do not live in any high or real sense. Thinking makes the man.
  • Success is sweet and sweeter if long delayed and gotten through many struggles and defeats.
  • Who speaks to the instincts speaks to the deepest in mankind, and finds the readiest response.
  • We climb to heaven most often on the ruins of our cherished plans, finding our failures were successes.

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Nov 29, 1799
Also known as
  • Amos B Alcott
  • A. Bronson Alcott
  • United States of America
Lived in
  • Concord
Mar 4, 1888

on July 23, 2013


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