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British Socialism and American Romanticism

Abstract

Although much has been said about the influence of Carlyle and Ruskin on British socialists, the influence of Emerson, Thoreau and Whitman has been neglected. American romanticism influenced British socialism through three direct channels: first, the wandering scholar Thomas Davidson who inspired the Fellowship of the New Life; second, the poet Edward Carpenter who dominated the Sheffield Socialist Society and influenced other local groups; and, third, the unitarian minister John Trevor who founded the Labour Church movement. Through these channels, American romanticism acted as an important source of the ethical socialism of the Independent Labour Party.

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