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Margaret Fuller’s and Frederick Douglass’ Rhetorical Styles

Margaret Fuller

Margaret fuller was born in 1810 in England. She was a brilliant woman who started transcendentalism and championed the fight for women to be given equal rights as the men. Due to her brilliance she stood out, unfortunately she was unappreciated in the patriarchal society. She was an author and a social reformer who stood above her associates in her critical ability and in literary expression. She established ‘Dial’ a publication that carried the works of transcendentalists. She had discussions with women in Boston and from these gatherings she got materials which she used to fight for the rights of women (Sarah Margaret, 1).

She was involved in the transcendentalist movement that challenged the society and the culture. She wrote the ‘Zenobia’ in the periodical ‘Blithedale Romance’. She was a great literary critic and she worked for the New York Tribune and covered the works of literature of many writers like Goethe and Ritcher (Sarah Margaret, 1).

She was a philanthropist and a reformer. She fought for the women to be emancipated. In the transcendentalist movement she conducted conversations to help pass the movement’s idea, that people could change their lives if they changed their thinking (Newman, 1). She wrote a manifesto called “The great Lawsuit, or Man vs. Men, Woman vs. Women” (Newman 1). In this manifesto she urged for women to be given an opportunity to exploit their potential. She saw the society transforming for the better if the imbalance between the women and men was abolished. This imbalance had led to the society becoming deformed. This dream about society was similar to the one that Fredrick had that all slaves in America would be free and they would enjoy all the rights and liberties enjoyed by the free men.

Margaret fuller had a natural gift of critic. She was not trained just like Fredrick Douglass who was not trained but had great talent that when he wrote his first autobiography some doubted how a former slave could write so well (Newman, 1). Fuller was a genius and used her knowledge to judge things and people (Sarah Margaret, 1).

Fredrick Douglass

Fredrick Douglass was born by a black salve mother and a white father in Tuckahoe Maryland in 1818. He was raised by hid master’s relatives Hugh and Sophia Auld after he was separated from his mother. They taught him to read and write which was against the laws of the state. In his twentieth year he escaped from slavery and got married. He relocated to Massachusetts and began to speak for abolitionism. He did this through speaking to his audiences where he used his great rhetorical style of speech to rally fro support for his cause. Due to his oratory skills he gained fame the world over (Thomas, 1).

He wrote his autobiography in 1845 which was called Narrative of the Life of Fredrick Douglass, an American Slave. In this book he talked of his struggles to gain freedom. He was forced into exile because he had revealed his identity but his anti slavery friends bought his freedom. He started his paper when he moved to the United States called The North Star. In this paper he carried on his abolitionist crusade. In 1857 the Supreme Court ruled that the blacks had no rights in the United States Constitution which angered Douglass and a debate over slavery was carried across the country (Thomas, 1).

He gained achieved a reputation in speaking skills even though he did not have a formal education. He wrote an important Narrative using his great speaking skills and his attention to details. He also became a newspaper publisher.

As a frontrunner in the abolitionist movement he fought for slavery to end. During the civil war he was an advisor to President Lincoln and he fought for amendments in the constitution to grant blacks voting rights and civil liberties. He was a strong voice in crusading for human rights during his time and today he is recognized for the contribution he made to end racial injustices in the United States.


Both Margaret fuller and Fredrick Douglass were champions of human rights. They used their great rhetorical skills to pass across the message that was dear to them. Douglass used his writings to talk about the plight of slaves and he did so with great skills. Today his works are studied. This is because of their rich content and the skillful manner of his writing and speech. This was no mean achievement for a person who educated himself by reading books. He refused to be silent when his fellow human beings were suffering. On the other hand Margaret Fuller’s work is being studied today.

Their rhetorical styles were similar. They were both persuasive in their speech thus they had many people paying attention to what they had to say. In their works they expressed themselves so well. They do so with honesty that endeared many people to their writings and speeches. They were effective communicators and their messages were understood by people.

Fredrick was a smith of words because the words he used in his writings were brilliant (Wersterman, 1). He selected words well and used them as tools of change in the society he lived in. he used proverbs in his speech and writing which made him an effective communicator by increasing the impact of his message thus making him an effective activist. He drew his proverbs from the bible, the literary sources he read and from his folk speech

Fuller’s style of writing was unusual. It did not follow conversation style, it was unstructured. This could explain why it was ignored for so long until recently when an interest in women’s writing of the nineteenth century was reawakened. She spoke better than she wrote as those who listened and read her writings remarked (Newman, 1). However her work was brilliant.


Their rhetorical styles may have been unusual but they left an indelible mark in the literary field. The work they wrote is rich in folklore. Anyone wishing to understand life in the nineteenth century can do so by reading their works. For instance in Fuller’s work one will recognize that she does not say that women are superior in nature to men. No, what she advocated for was that both men and women should be given the freedom to exploit their potentials. On the other hand Douglass realized that men in America would never achieve their full potential, which was the divine purpose as long as some men were slaves. The ideas expressed by these artists are still relevant in the 21st century.


Fredrick Douglass Biography Caring Institute and the National Park Service. Web.

Consortium Erudit. Newman, Lance. “Margaret Fuller’s Summer on the lakes, in 1843 and the Condition of America.” 2009. California State University. Web.

Reuben, Paul P. “Chapter 3: Early Nineteenth Century – Frederick Douglass. ” PAL: Perspectives in American Literature- A Research and Reference Guide. Web.

(Sarah) Margaret Fuller (Ossoli), 1810-1850. Web.

Thomas Sandra Frederick Douglass “Abolitionist/Editor”. Web.

Westerman, William “No Struggle, No Progress”: Frederick Douglass and His Proverbial Rhetoric for Civil Rights. Web.

Wong, Allegra. “Margaret Fuller: Freeing the Artist Within.” Web.


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