I am part or particle of God. The name of the nearest friend sounds then foreign and accidental: to be brothers, to be acquaintances, -master or servant, is then trifle and a disturbance.
-Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nature.
Undoubtedly, Emerson´s works influenced the romantic and later modernism movement in Latin America. One of its most prominent figures, José Martí, was well acquainted with transcendentalism and, even though he later differed from his views, Emerson´s texts permeated Marti’s vision with the ideal of “Nuestra America” (Our America).
Emerson's ideas boosted many writers abroad to look for a new ideal of nation, away from “the courtly muses of Europe”. In fact, Martí considered Emerson to be “one of the most potent and original thinkers of this time, as an excellent man, and as the greatest of the poets of America”.
1860: Emerson's "Conduct of Life" appears. From the section entitled Fate is where Marti gets the title for his essay "Nuestra America”
1881: Martı´does indicate in a notebook fragment that the American who can put into writing ‘‘the multiple, confused conditions of this epoch’’ would join a pantheon of European thinkers of the caliber of Dante, Luther, Cervantes, and Shakespeare. He was clearly referring to Emerson.
1882: Marti writes an eulogy to Emerson titled "Emerson."
1883: Martı´ envisioned a ground swell of another modernity arising from respecting America’s millennial autochthonous and mestizo civilizations. This represents Marti's turning point from Emerson.
1883: The ‘‘Evening of Emerson,’’ a night on or around Martı´’s thirtieth birthday in January 1883, marks an awakening of consciousness after long hours of laboring over Emerson’s texts.
1885: Martı´’s little-known chronicle on the ‘‘Problems and Pleasures of September ’’ (1885) juxtaposes the diﬃcult conditions of workers with the extravagant consumption of a spectacular America’s Cup sailboat race and armaments display. By hanging a textual portrait of Emerson in the paragraph preceding this description of ‘‘Anglomaniacs ’’ observing a regatta, the chronicle conveys with wry bitterness Emerson’s inability to perceive or counteract the eﬀects of an increasingly imperial system that thrives oﬀ competition between Europe and the United States for control of Latin America’s material resources.
1889: in February 1889, Martı´’s textual references to Emerson appear with a dramatically diﬀerent tone.
1889: Although couched as a review of Paul Bloue¨t’s light burlesque travel essay that pokes fun at the prudish and materialistic US Gilded Age, Jonathan and His Continent (1889), Martı´’s argument rejects Emersonian transcendentalism.
1891: Marti's essay "Nuestra America." Emerson's influence persists, as he provided the phrase "Our America." See Conduct of Life, “I Fate.”