In the vein of getting context for Emerson, Hawthorn, Abolition movements and Beecher family, I have this book out from Concordia library on "The Most Famous Man in America", the Pastor Henry Beecher, brother of Harriet Beecher Stowe of "Uncle Tom's Cabin".
It is most fascinating and thorough. I feel that I am getting a really good view of what a number of contexts were the first part of the 19th century America, for example the differences in settings between Boston, New York and the frontier in Indiana. It is interesting to note that the religious feeling was quite intense everywhere, but represented mostly by Presbyterian, Methodist and Baptist churches. Henry Beecher's own Calvinism was of a variable sort. He did not like to be pinned down on intricacies of Reformed doctrine. He tended to weasel through doctrinal examinations but was accepted anyhow for his charismatic preaching and engaging rhetoric, deep thinking and empathetic views.