Writing in his Religious History of the American People Sydney E. Ahlstrom comments on the impact that Emanuel Swedenborg had on nineteenth-century America: "His influence was everywhere: in Transcendentalism and at Brook Farm, in spiritualism and the free love movement, in the craze for communitarian experiments, in faith healing, mesmerism, and a half-dozen medical cults; among great intellectuals, crude charlatans, and innumerable frontier quacks."
Swedenborg was the son of a well-known Swedish theologian and had an outstanding career as a scientist and as assessor of his country's Board of Mines. His expertise encompassed the disciplines of geology, anatomy, astronomy, and physics. At age fifty-seven he underwent a religious experience that initiated him in his role of prophet and revealer of a system of thought that was destined to become one of the most important elements in the modern Christian esoteric tradition. <