Social and Political Reform

On Woman in the Nineteenth Century

Most of the criticism of Fuller's Woman In The Nineteenth Century is along the lines of Orestes Brownson, who writes of Fuller's book that "all is profoundly obscure, and thrown together in "glorious confusion." Frederick Dan Huntington complains of a want of "method" calling it more "a collection of clever sayings and bright intimations, than a logical treatise... "(WITNC, 222). It is indeed quite a task figuring out the direction of Fuller's compass.

History of Fruitlands and The English Reformers

Bronson Alcott took up farming not only for the purifying discipline of manual labor but to disengage himself from an economy "whose root is selfishness, whose trunk is property, whose fruit is gold (Boller, 118)." Alcott was associated with the Nonresistance Society, a radical offshoot of the abolitionist movement who believed in the systematic oppression of all human institutions opposed to divine law and the duty to withdraw immediately leaving them to collapse under the burden of their own evil. However, in Concord Alcott discovered the flaws of this theory.

Images for reform: "means and ends, seed and fruit" and civil disobedience

We are all now familiar with Thoreau's "great faith in a seed." What is normally overlooked is that the celebrated quote from "The Succession of Forest Trees"—"convince me that you have a seed there, and I am prepared to expect wonders"—continues like this: "I shall even believe that the millennium is at hand, and that the reign of justice is about to commence, when the Patent Office, or Government, begins to distribute, and the people to plant, the seeds of these things." FN

Social and Political Changes in the Time of Emerson and Thoreau: The 19th Century at a Glance

The revolutionaries who fought in 1776 and fathered the new Republic were dying off in the early 19th century, but their system of "gentry politics" lingered on a while longer. The demise of this system came about when Andrew Jackson lost his initial bid for the Presidency. One of four candidates chosen by congressional caucus, and running as a war hero after his victory in the Battle of New Orleans, Jackson led the other three in popular and electoral votes, but lacked a clear majority. The election went to the House of Representatives and John Quincy Adams became President in 1824.


There have been no topics, for the last two years, more generally talked of than woman, and "the sphere of woman." In society, everywhere, we hear the same oft-repeated things said upon them by those who have little perception of the difficulties of the subject; and even the clergy have frequently flattered "the feebler sex," by proclaiming to them from the pulpit what lovely things they may become, if they will only be good, quiet, and gentle, attend exclusively to their domestic duties, and the cultivation of religious feelings, which the other sex very kindly relinquish to them as their

Social Reform: Margaret Fuller and her Conversations

Margaret Fuller, although intelligent and highly educated, faced many difficulties in finding ways to earn money to help support her family in the 1830s. Like other Transcendentalists, she was a skilled school teacher, working with Alcott at his Temple School, until that venture ended, and in Providence at the Greene Street School, but the pay was too little and she had little time or energy to devote to writing, which she felt was her true vocation.


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