FACT CHECK: Did Margaret Fuller Say, ‘Today A Reader, Tomorrow A Leader’?

Brad Sylvester | Fact Check Editor

A post shared on Facebook claims that 19th century writer and feminist Margaret Fuller once stated, “Today a reader, tomorrow a leader.”

“Today a reader, tomorrow a leader.” – Margaret FullerVisit the library exhibit at any of our three locations and dive in to some light reading this morning! You never know what you'll learn!

Posted by Edventure Hartsville on Monday, July 22, 2019

Verdict: False

This saying does not appear in any of Fuller’s writings. It may actually come from a 1926 list of library slogans.

Fact Check:

Fuller, a prominent early feminist writer and editor, wrote the book “Woman in the Nineteenth Century,” which is considered to be an important work in the American feminist movement.

The Daily Caller News Foundation searched for the quote in that book, as well as her other works, including letters, poems and memoirs, but found no matching or similar phrases.

“I’m not familiar with that in her writings, and, as usual, the internet is confused!” said Chris Highland, author of “Meditations of Margaret Fuller,” in an email to TheDCNF.

We consulted with members of the Margaret Fuller Society, who didn’t recognize the expression either, with board member Megan Marshall adding in an email to TheDCNF, “It doesn’t sound like the language of her day.”

Quote Investigator, a website dedicating to researching quotes, traced the saying to a 1926 report published in a journal called “The Library,” though elements of the expression appeared earlier. According to the site, the report contained 43 library slogans written for a classroom exercise, with the alleged Fuller quote attributed to a student named W. Fusselman.

The close alphabetical proximity of the names “Fusselman” and “Fuller” in a collection of quotations may have caused the misattribution, Quote Investigator speculated.

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Brad Sylvester

Fact Check Editor
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