Who was Margaret Fuller?
Margaret Fuller (1810-1850) organized weekly Saturday conversations with women in Boston to supplement their education and discuss their condition in society. She co-founded The Dial with Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) in 1840, which was the official Transcendentalist publication for four years. Fuller left the magazine in 1842 to write for the New York Tribune.
Fuller interviewed intellectuals for the Tribune in England and Italy in 1846, including George Sand, Thomas Carlyle, and the Italian revolutionary Giovanni Ossoli, with whom she fell in love. The couple had a child and married. The entire family drowned in a sea accident while returning to the United States, when their ship hit a sandbar one hundred yards away from Fire Island.
Fuller's main work is Woman in the Nineteenth Century (1845) in which she argued for women's independence and equality between the sexes. Her great-nephew was the twentieth-century architect of geodesic domes, Buckminster Fuller.
What was The Dial?
The name for this publication was suggested by Amos Bronson Alcott (1799-1888) and Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882). The simile was explained in the first issue this way:
And so with diligent hands and good intent we set down our Dial on the earth. We wish it may resemble that instrument in its celebrated happiness, that of measuring no hours but those of sunshine. Let it be one cheerful rational voice amidst the din of mourners and polemics. Or to abide by our chosen image, let it be such a Dial, not as the dead face of a clock, hardly even such as the Gnomon in a garden, but rather such a Dial as is the Garden itself, in whose leaves and flowers the suddenly awakened sleeper is instantly apprised not what part of dead time, but what state of life and growth is now arrived and arriving.
The Dial became dormant in 1844, but was revived for a year in 1860. In 1880 it reappeared as a political magazine, and in 1920 as a literary modernist magazine, publishing essays, poetry, and art reviews until 1929.
Who was Frederick Douglass?
Many contemporary scholars of race consider Frederick Douglass (born Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey; 1818-1895) to be the first liberatory African American intellectual. In 1873, he was the vice-presidential candidate when Victoria Woodhull was the first woman to run for U.S. president.
Douglass began life as a slave, but was taught to read at the age of 12 by his owner's sister-in-law. He taught other slaves to read, and after a series of failed escapes he finally gained his freedom and became active in the Massachusetts anti-slavery movement. At 23 he began his distinguished and inspiring career of public speaking. He was present at the Seneca Falls convention, where the American suffragist movement originated in 1848.
Douglass toured Ireland and England in the mid 1840s, and his supporters raised money to legally purchase his freedom in 1856. Back in the United States, Douglass published newspapers, the most famous of which was The North Star,
The famous abolitionist, suffragist, orator, and statesman Frederick Douglass is considered by many to have been the first liberatory African American intellectual (Art Archive).
which had as the motto "Right is of no Sex—Truth is of no Color—God is the Father of us all, and we are all brethren."
In the 1850s, Douglass spoke for school desegregation in New York. During the U.S. Civil War, he promoted the rights of blacks to fight for the Union. When the Emancipation Proclamation was issued in 1862, he said: "We were waiting and listening as for a bolt from the sky ... we were watching ... by the dim light of the stars for the dawn of a new day ... we were longing for the answer to the agonizing prayers of centuries."
In 1884, after his first wife had died, Douglass married Helen Pitts, a white suffragist from New York. Pitts had worked on Alpha, the nineteenth-century radical women's publication, while living in Washington, D.C.
Douglass' main writings are A Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave (1845), The Heroic Slave: Autographs for Freedom (1853), My Bondage and My Freedom (1855), and Life and Times of Frederick Douglass (1881; revised, 1892); he edited The North Star from 1847 to 1851, after which it became the Frederick Douglass' Paper.