About the Timeline

Moving through this timeline (1703-1910) will help you get a sense of the historical and intellectual contexts in which Edwards, Jefferson, Emerson, and James thought and wrote. You can view the timeline in 2d or 3d (click on the icon on the lower left side of the timeline to change views). Note the color-coding for each thinker: Edwards is red, Jefferson is blue, Emerson is green, and James is yellow. If you start at the beginning (1703), you will be able to follow a history of ideas about what it means to be a human being, and you will see how these ideas affect how we imagine our lives and make choices about how to live them. You will see the human considered in relation to both nature and the divine, in discussions of both science and religion, and you will see how the claims we make about what it means to be human affect our interactions with one another in social and political relationships. The story begins with Puritan conceptions of human depravity and ends with modern assertions about human potential, moving from the American Enlightenment (1680-1820) to Transcendentalism (1820-1870) and Pragmatism (1870-19100. Along the way you will see and learn about the people, texts, correspondence, maps, architecture, and events of the different periods.