Biography of Margaret Fuller

MARGARET FULLER, the first child of Timothy Fuller and Margaret Crane, was born May 23, 1810, in the house now (1902) numbered 71, Cherry St., Cambridge. After her father’s death she was her mother’s chief stay; for, though of very little business experience, and with a natural aversion to financial affairs, she had a strength of mind and courageous firmness which stayed up her mother’s hands when the staff on which she had leaned was stricken away. It had been the life-long desire of Margaret to go to Europe and complete her culture there, and arrangements with this view had been matured at her father’s death. Her patrimony would have still sufficed for the desired tour; but she must have left her mother sinking under a sense of helplessness, with young children to educate. Margaret, after a struggle between a long-cherished and darling project and her sense of duty, resolved to give up her own brilliant hopes and remain with her mother. She applied herself personally to the academic training of the children, who learned from her the rudiments of the classic languages and the first reading of some of their great authors. We extract from the “Mount Auburn Memorial” the following

“Her wonderful power of conversation lives in memory alone. It is said that there has been no woman like her in this respect since Madame de Stael; but while Margaret Fuller’s conversation, in eloquence and effect, in sparkle and flow, was like that of the gifted French woman, it had a merit which the latter could not claim. There is hardly upon record one with her power to draw out others. She not only talked surprisingly herself, but she made others do so. While talking with her they seemed to make discovery of themselves, to wonder at their own thoughts, and to admire the force and aspiration of their character -hitherto latent to their own consciousness. She made those who conversed with her forget to admire her in wondering at themselves. As a friend, Margaret Fuller Ossoli is tenderly and devoutly remembered by those who knew and loved her. What an assemblage they would make if gathered together! The rich and the refined, the poor and the humble, the men and women of genius struggling with destiny, and demanding audience for new and noble thoughts, -all these found in her a confidant to soothe their sorrows, and a friend to encourage and point onward. There was but one thing needed to admit to the friendship of Margaret, and that was a pure purpose and a noble aim. Those who did not possess this instinctively shunned her. She had a penetrating eye to see through, and a power of satire to strip off, masks and pretences. She hated shams, hypocrisies, falsehoods, and outside show. Characters not genuine strove to keep at a safe distance from her; they dreaded the sting of her satire, the eagle look of her eye, and the eloquence of her tongue.”

Soon after her tragic death in 1850 her memoirs were written by Ralph Waldo Emerson, Horace Greeley, William Henry Channing, James Freeman Clarke and others, and were published in two volumes, which were later re-edited by her brother Rev. Arthur Buckminster Fuller. Since then her life has been written by Thomas Wentworth Higginson in the “American Men of Letters” series, and by Mrs. Julia Ward Howe in the “Famous Women” series.

On July 19, 1901, the anniversary of her death, by the efforts of several distinguished women of New York a memorial pavilion and tablet were dedicated to her memory on Fire Island, near the spot where the ship Elizabeth was wrecked and she and her husband and child were drowned. In spite of the efforts of her family and friends -her body and that of her husband were never recovered.

On May 23, 1902, her 92d birthday, the house in which she was born in Cherry Street, Cambridge, was dedicated, under the name of “Margaret Fuller House,” to the work of a branch of the Young Women’s Christian Association.



Fuller, Arthur Buckminster, and Fuller, Edith Davenport. Historical notices of Thomas Fuller and his descendants, with a genealogy of the Fuller family, 1638-1902. Cambridge, Mass.: Privately Published. 1902.

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