Margaret Fuller

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What does Margaret Fuller believe America still needs to achieve in her essay "Fourth of July"?

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Fuller expresses the view that the United States has not lived up to the ideals upon which it was founded. With independence, she says, should come the responsibility to ensure freedom, and given that slavery was still being practiced and defended at the time of her writing in 1845, the Americans had not succeeded in creating the kind of society they had aimed at 70 years earlier.

Fuller seems to be saying that materialism, the pursuit of wealth, is what Americans value above other things. She mentions Andrew Jackson, who had died a month (June, 1845) before she wrote her article. Jackson's legacy was something that any progressive of that time, or ours, would view negatively or at least ambivalently. He was a strong leader who opposed dominance by the wealthy elites, but he was also a slaveowner and he carried out a ruthless policy against the Native Americans. In many ways Fuller's mention of Jackson is a symbol of what needs to be corrected and reformed in America.

Fuller's article prefigures the speeches of Lincoln in the sense that she, like Lincoln, wished for a "new birth of freedom." Tragically, Fuller did not live to see the abolition of slavery, as she died in a shipwreck in 1850 along with her husband and young son.

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In Margaret Fuller's essay "The Fourth of July," which appeared in the New York Tribune in 1845, she writes that America has achieved much since its independence and is a land of "great talent and energy." However, she feels that the ideas that led to the American Revolution have been "tarnished," and that the country is starting to value wealth and power over virtue. America has yet to achieve freedom for all its people. She believes that the continued practice of slavery "takes from the patriot his home." She also believes that Americans' love of wealth and power detracts from their commitment to ideals. She feels that the country must be born again and that there needs to be "a new Dynasty...of Fathers of the Country." To achieve the greatness that is within America's potential, the country needs to turn against slavery and recommit itself to the values present at its founding.

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