After the Civil War (1861–65; a war between the proslavery Southern states and the antislavery Northern states), Emerson continued to lecture and write. Though he had nothing really new to say anymore, audiences continued to crowd his lectures and many readers bought his books. The best of the final books were Society and Solitude (1870) and Letters and Social Aims (1876). He was losing his memory, however, and needed more and more help from others, especially his daughter Ellen. He was nearly seventy-nine when he died on April 27, 1882.
Emerson anonymously published his first essay, "Nature", on September 9, 1836. A year later, on August 31, 1837, he delivered his now-famous Phi Beta Kappa address, " The American Scholar ",  then entitled "An Oration, Delivered before the Phi Beta Kappa Society at Cambridge"; it was renamed for a collection of essays (which included the first general publication of "Nature") in 1849.  Friends urged him to publish the talk, and he did so, at his own expense, in an edition of 500 copies, which sold out in a month.  In the speech, Emerson declared literary independence in the United States and urged Americans to create a writing style all their own and free from Europe.  James Russell Lowell , who was a student at Harvard at the time, called it "an event without former parallel on our literary annals".  Another member of the audience, Reverend John Pierce, called it "an apparently incoherent and unintelligible address".