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11/27/18
I have completed reading every asterisk-signed essay and review I can find in the 1844-46 New York "Tribune," which work is assigned by historians to Margaret Fuller. That includes all the articles compiled by Bean and Myerson in their compilation, "Margaret Fuller: Critic." I changed all the pdf file names, from the CD in the back of the book, to their respective publication dates for future reference, and indeed, this saves me from a ton of typing.

All flippancy aside, there is no question what was going on, here. Mathew Franklin Whittier (myself in the 19th century, and the younger brother of poet John Greenleaf Whittier), was writing these articles under his own, long-term secret pseudonym, which he had used for reviews in the 1831-33 "Essayist," on a freelance basis. Margaret Fuller became the on-staff literary editor of the paper about the same time. She would occasionally insert her own personal anecdotes into these reviews, as if she were the writer; then she wrote one or two of them under this signature, herself. How many she might have written anonymously I don't know, as I didn't attempt to study those for style.

At some point, people began to suspect that she was the author of the entire series. Mathew, wishing to remain under cover (probably for his clandestine anti-slavery work), made wry comments when the issue came up which suggest she wasn't really the author, but otherwise played along with it. Fuller became bolder, and asserted in private correspondence that she was the asterisk-writer. Finally, by the time she left for Europe in August of 1846, she wrote two reviews under that signature, herself. Mathew had left for New Orleans in July, where he began writing the "blotter" for the "Daily Delta" under his middle initial, "F." He left a few short reviews, and one longer one, on-file, which were printed in the "Tribune" in August (oddly, these appeared first in the weekly edition, and then in the daily).

Fuller wrote a farewell article signed with the asterisk, but the style of this one, as well as of two others written toward the end which are definitely hers, is very different from Mathew's style. For one thing, in the close of her farewell, she arbitrarily capitalizes (I think it was) five words. Mathew never did that--you know, things like Liberty and Justice for All. In addition, there was more sheer spleen in her writing. Mathew could be harsh where it was warranted, but he was always balanced, and he kept it fair and impersonal. Fuller's attacks were personally aggressive. Also, she liked to write in the first person, whereas Mathew prefered the "royal we." It's not that hard to tell them apart. And if you do, you find that Fuller may have written a total of four of these asterisk-signed reviews, with the remainder having been authored by Mathew.

Still, in her asterisk-signed farewell, she clearly implies that she was the author of all of them. This makes her a liar, as I have already established regarding Edgar Allan Poe. She continued signing this way when she wrote from Europe as the paper's overseas correspondent. This means the editor, Horace Greeley, was culpable, as well.*

For the literary world, my findings are something on the order of the face on Mars. Did you know there's a giant sculpture of a face on Mars? Check it out. The evidence is pretty compelling.

This may be all for awhile, because I simply wanted to record new discoveries, and I think I'm done. At least, I have no more need to read these pieces in the "Tribune." I just have some archiving odds-and-ends which will give me something to do if I get bored, but I'm not likely to make any new discoveries.

One thing that came out of this latest round of research, is that it appears that Mathew Franklin Whittier was better acquainted with the Transcendentalists than I had previously thought. He may have contributed a few reviews to "The Dial," and he must have personally known both Emerson, and Hawthorne. I had already established that he knew Thoreau. His name appears in a list of convention attendees by state, in Garrison's "The Liberator," in 1857, very near A. Bronson's Alcott's name, which suggests that if to no-one else, to Garrison, Mathew and Bronson were among an elite group of supporters. (This listing may have been a factor in Mathew's downfall, by inadvertently "outing" him and making him the victim of aggressive shunning.)

The people who are trying to educate the public about the face on Mars, can at least fill an auditorium of like-minded persons. I can hardly get a single person to take me seriously. Even Mathew, in one of his reviews, admitted that publicity may be necessary to bring a book to the attention of the public. But I can't afford it, even if I could do it sans-hype. So here I sit on some of the most astounding discoveries in the world of 19th century American literature, without a single soul taking me seriously.

It's kind of an interesting situation, when you think about it. I'm not wrong, I'm not sloppy, and I'm not self-deluded. I have strong evidence. And yet, here I am on a wintry day in Portland, Maine, in my little attic studio apartment, typing to myself--and perhaps, to posterity.

Best regards,

Stephen Sakellarios, M.S.

 

*Mathew might have agreed to the situation in a spirit of self-abnegation, but he really wouldn't have had any choice. Fuller probably held such power over Greeley, via her personal influence over his wife, that he didn't have much choice, either.

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