Sampson Reed, 1800 - 1880

Sampson Reed was a very prominent American disciple of Emanuel Swedenborg whose influence, in Ralph Waldo Emerson's words, as an "early oracle" to the New England Transcendentalists was profound.  Along with Theophilus Parsons and Thomas Worcester, Reed was responsible for bringing the ideas of Swedenborg to the attention of the Transcendentalists.  In 1827 Reed cofounded the Swedenborgian New Jerusalem Magazine, for which he wrote prolifically over a period of fifty years.  His writings, especially the "Oration on Genius" (1821) and Observations on the Growth of the Mind (1826), nurtured and encouraged the emerging Transcendental movement to a degree unimagined and unintended by Reed himself.  Emerson's Nature (1836), as well as some of his early lectures, are indebted to Reed's view that the individual mind can find "the actively creative will of God" in the "relations which exist between created things."
Reed's significance as an instigator to the founding of American Transcendentalism is so great, in fact, that it led Richard G. Geldard, in his book God in Concord (Burdett, New York: Larson Publications, 1999), to compare him to John the Baptist.  "In many ways Reed was the John the Baptist of Transcendentalism and his Observations his call to 'Make Way!'" (pp. 51 - 52).