Margaret Fuller and the Declaration of Sentiments and Resolutions

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One of the most important American writers of the 19th century, Margaret Fuller holds a distinctive place in the cultural life of the American Renaissance. Born in Massachusetts in 1810, she was rigorously educated by her father, Timothy Fuller, an American lawyer and legislator. Due to her remarkable intellectual and rational abilities, considered by her father exclusively masculine, she had to act in a certain "manly" way in order to not disappoint her teacher. In the same time she had to continually perfect herself as to bring her father reason to boast of and to her future husband pride .As if the intensive education system wasn't enough, her father's death brought financial problems for her family, making her responsible for the financial support and education of her younger siblings. We can only assume to what kind of stress she was submitted to. Luckily for her that in the late 1830's she became a member of a group of distinguished writers and philosophers who met in the Massachusetts area, and who supported the doctrines of transcendentalism.
When we say transcendentalism we refer to a belief in a higher reality than that found in sense experience or in a higher kind of knowledge than that achieved by human reason. It is an idealism that encompasses a diverse and sometimes confusing set of beliefs regarding man's role in nature and the universe. Among her friends and intellectual supporters of the transcendentalist movements were: Emerson, Thoreau, the Peabody sisters, the Alcotts and a lot more. One of her closest friends and supporter was Ralph Waldo Emerson, who encouraged her to become the editor of The Dial a literary and philosophical journal for which she wrote many articles and reviews on art and literature. During this period she worked at one of hers important essay The Great Lawsuit. Man versus Men, Woman versus Women , which was published in 1943 and which called for women's equality. After a period of time the essay was expanded and received a new title due to some objections regarding its understandability although the author didn't really agree as she herself says in the preface of he book : "By myself, the other is preferred, partly for the reason others do not like it,--that is, that it requires some thought to see what it means, and might thus prepare the reader to meet me on my own ground. Besides, it offers a larger scope, and is, in that way, more just to my desire."(Fuller, p 15). Anyhow, the title was changed in: Woman in the Nineteenth Century, a title that in my opinion is more adequate because it offers a better insight of what is the text really about. 
Although it appeared a few years before, I think this essay is one of the basic works that formed and influenced the Women's Rights Movement in US. The famous women's rights meeting held in Seneca Falls, New York, came just a few years after this book, in 1848. As we know already at Seneca Falls the first convention that militated for women's rights took place, a convention that occurred due to the idea of Elizabeth Cady Staton and Lucretia Mott. On this convention the organizers presented "The Declaration of Sentiments and Resolutions", a declaration that followed in a close line the Declaration of Independence written by Thomas Jefferson ,in 1776 , and which stated that " all man are created equal". The Seneca Falls declaration held that "all men and women are created equal" and had inalienable rights including life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. As the Declaration Of independence listed 18 charges against the king of England also the Declaration of Sentiments described "repeated injuries and usurpations on the part of man toward woman" including the denial of the right to vote, unfair laws regarding separation and divorce, and inequality in regard to religion, education, and employment.


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