The Lives of Margaret Fuller

Thursday, January 17, 2013

John Matteson talks about the writer and a fiery social critic, Margaret Fuller (1810-1850), who was perhaps the most famous American woman of her generation. She was the leading female figure in the transcendentalist movement, wrote a celebrated column of literary and social commentary, served as the first foreign correspondent for an American newspaper, and she authored the first great work of American feminism: Woman in the Nineteenth Century. Matteson tells her story and examines her legacy in his biography of her, The Lives of Margaret Fuller.


John Matteson

Comments [2]

John Matteson

Fuller never favored slavery but, surprisingly, did not develop a strong feeling against it until she was living in Rome and was caught up in a different fight for freedom: the struggle to unite Italy under republican rule in 1848-49. Fuller never visited the slave states, so American slavery was always a bit of an abstraction for her. However, seeing another dispossessed people rising up against tyranny led her to speak favorably of abolition in America.

As to Native Americans, Fuller did have face-to-face experience. When she traveled to the Midwest in the summer of 1843, she saw and spoke with members of various tribes and was impressed by the dignity of their manners, which seems to have surprised her. By that time, the Indians of the Midwest were already living in a degraded condition, and she came away in sorrow, believing that America's native peoples were destined to be annihilated.

Thanks for asking!

Jan. 17 2013 07:43 PM

How did she feel about slavery and American Indians?

Jan. 17 2013 11:14 AM

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