"Theodore Parker (1810-1860) was a powerful preacher who rejected the authority of the Bible and of Jesus, a brilliant scholar who became a popular agitator for the abolition of slavery and for women's rights, a political theorist who defined democracy as "government of all the people, by all the people, for all the people" - words that inspired Abraham Lincoln." "American Heretic: Theodore Parker and Transcendentalism, the first major modern biography of Parker, brings his life and times into sharp focus. Historian Dean Grodzins offers an account of the remarkable first phase of Parker's career, when this complex man - charismatic yet awkward, brave yet insecure - rose from poverty and obscurity to fame and notoriety as a Transcendentalist prophet. American Heretic reveals hidden facets of Parker's life, including a tragic childhood and a love for a woman who was not his wife." "Grodzins paints a vivid picture of Boston Unitarianism, the culture that nurtured Parker yet against which he rebelled, and presents fresh perspectives on Transcendentalism, uncovering its religious roots, showing the profound religious and political issues at stake in the "Transcendentalist controversy," and offering new insights into Parker's Transcendentalist colleagues, including Emerson, Margaret Fuller, and Bronson Alcott. Grodzins traces, too, the intellectual origins of Parker's epochal definition of democracy as government of, by, and for the people."--BOOK JACKET.