The words move you, but you may not be sure why. Emerson and Whitman are two of the elite transcendentalists, who started a movement to unite, glorify, and advance an American literature and philosophy.
In the 1830's, the transcendentalist movement started gaining ground, and Emerson called for Americans to do their own thing and quit relying on history and the English to determine thought and culture. The American Civil War from 1861 to 1865 had a profound impact on the two, and their thinking helped to unify the States in Reconstruction.
Whitman, in particular, was involved in the Civil War as a nurse (essentially performing duties of a doctor), and he wrote poetry about his experiences. Both men had a great love for Abraham Lincoln.
Emerson gave Whitman his start in writing, proclaiming that his work was exactly what he referred to as "American Scholar[ship]." The two passages above are among my favorite in all of literature.
Their words lie at the core of the American entrepreneurial spirit and innovation. The quotes have many interpretations, but I will apply principles specifically dealing with innovation. To innovate you must:
These great thinkers and writers are an inherent part of the current spirit of innovation, and although we should not rely upon their thinking, we should be inspired to do some of our own.