Sarah Josepha Buell Hale: Bunker Hill, Mary's Lamb, Mount Vernon and Thanksgiving Day

by DerdriuMarriner

What do pianos and reunions have in common? Thanksgiving is a U.S. holiday thanks to Sarah Josepha Hale. Children learn the piano by playing Sarah's "Mary Had A Little Lamb."

Multi-tasking cannot be considered a skill set exclusive to the Digital Age of the twentieth century onward. Experience and expertise in juggling many responsibilities and reconciling multiple roles in fact do not begin with computers. They just get faster with electronics.

For example, Sarah Josepha Buell Hale is an example of a successful multi-tasker in the eighteenth- and nineteenth-century United States of America. Her name may be found atop lists regarding the creation and defense of:
• American literature;
• Historical monuments;
• National holidays;
• Non-gender-restricted education;
• Religious events.

Her place in history rests assured what with:
• Composing “Mary Had a Little Lamb”;
• Fund-raising for Bunker Hill Monument and Mount Vernon;
• Inventing Thanksgiving;
• Launching Vassar College;
• Meriting a feast day.

*****

Sarah Josepha Buell Hale: c. 1831 portrait by James Reid Lambdin (May 10, 1807 - 1889)

Richard's Free Library, Newport, New Hampshire
Richard's Free Library, Newport, New Hampshire
Richard's Free Library, Newport, New Hampshire

 

Sarah (October 24, 1788 – April 30, 1879) was born in Newport, New Hampshire. Her father was Revolutionary War Captain Gordon Buell (February 21, 1752 – March 24, 1819). Her mother was Martha Whittlesey (February 26, 1751 - November 25, 1811). She was named for maternal grandparents Joseph (1722 – 1806) and Sarah (1720 – 1763) Whittlesey. She was permitted:

  • Home-schooling with her pro-co-education parents;
  • Home-studying with brother Charles Whittlesey (September 27, 1784 – shipwrecked 1808?);
  • Home-tutoring with brother Horatio Gates (January 13, 1787 -- February 28, 1833) -- Dartmouth College first-honors graduate and Glen’s Falls judge -- in geography, Latin, literature, and philosophy.

Despite few women holding college-level equivalences or professional jobs, Sarah was a private co-educational school teacher, 1806 – 1813.

 

Built by Sarah's father and opened as The Rising Sun in 1811, building still stands in original site, currently with lavender front.

Building is sited two houses north of South Congregational Church, Colonial Revival brick church built at 58 South Main Street in 1823 and added to National Register of Historic Places on March 30, 1989.
Newport, New Hampshire historic buildings
Newport, New Hampshire historic buildings

 

After a two-year acquaintance, Sarah married lawyer David Hale (July 3, 1783 – September 25, 1822) on October 23, 1813 at The Rising Sun, the unsuccessful successor to her father’s unsuccessful 400-acre (161.87-hectare) farm, 1776? - 1811. They started a literary club for studying:

  • Botany;
  • French;
  • History.

They were parents to:

  • David Emerson (February 19, 1815 – April 30, 1839), West Point-trained U.S. Army First Artillery Regiment Lieutenant, Cherokee War;
  • Horatio Emmons (May 3, 1817 – December 28, 1896), U.S. Exploring Expedition to the Pacific philologist, 1838 – 1842;
  • Frances Ann Hunter (March 20, 1819 – July 4, 1894);
  • Sarah Josepha (December 4, 1820 – May 3, 1863), Philadelphia schoolteacher;
  • William George (October 29, 1822 – January 3, 1876), Harvard-trained Louisiana lawyer, New Orleans.

 

"Anne Bullen": T. Stothard, pinx; engraved by T. Kelly ~ As magazine editor, Sarah honored Anne Boleyn's maternal courage:

"Thousands have died in defence of what they esteemed to be truth....Anne Boleyn exhibited a far more devoted sacrifice of self. She seemed willing, on the scaffold, to submit to the imputation of guilt, so she might shield her daughter from Henry’s rage"
Mrs. Sarah J. Hale, "Anne Boleyn," Ladies' Magazine and Literary Gazette (1831), frontispiece
Mrs. Sarah J. Hale, "Anne Boleyn," Ladies' Magazine and Literary Gazette (1831), frontispiece

 

David died of pneumonia the month before their youngest child’s birth. To keep Sarah financially afloat, David’s Freemason lodge colleagues financed:

  • Sarah’s brief millinery (hat-making) business;
  • Sarah’s collection The Genius of Oblivion, and Other Original Poems in 1823 and novel Northwood in 1827.

Sarah’s writing impelled Cornhill School for Young Ladies headmaster and Episcopal Church Reverend John Lauris Blake (December 21, 1788 – July 6, 1857) to offer in Boston, Massachusetts “The Lady’s Mentor” column editorship at:

  • Ladies’ Magazine, 1828 - 1834;
  • American Ladies’ Magazine, 1834 - 1837.

The position made Sarah the first woman editor of a U.S. magazine. It provided opportunities to:

  • Advance comfortable, professional, uncluttered fashions;
  • Freelance;
  • Network;
  • Promote American, copyright-protected literature;
  • Support social causes.

 

Sarah published literary output -- including critiques, essays, and original tales -- by Edgar Poe in Godey's Lady's Book:

1845 oil on canvas by Samuel Stillman Osgood (June 9, 1808 – 1885)
New York Historical Society
New York Historical Society

Louis Antoine Godey (June 6, 1804 – November 29, 1878) merged:

  • American Ladies’ Magazine;
  • Lady’s Book.

Sarah promoted:

  • Lydia Child (February 11, 1802 – October 20, 1880);
  • Ralph Emerson (May 25, 1803 – April 27, 1882);
  • Nathaniel Hawthorne (July 4, 1804 – May 19, 1864);
  • Oliver Holmes (August 29, 1809 – October 7, 1894);
  • Washington Irving (April 3, 1783 – November 28, 1859);
  • Henry Longfellow (February 27, 1807 – March 24, 1882);
  • Alice Neal (September 13, 1828 – August 23, 1863);
  • Edgar Poe (January 19, 1809 – October 7, 1849);
  • Catharine Sedgwick (December 28, 1789 – July 31, 1867);
  • Lydia Sigourney (September 1, 1791 – June 10, 1865);
  • Sarah Whitman (January 19, 1803 – June 27, 1878).

She publicized:

  • Mount Ida’s Troy Female Seminary, 1814-;
  • Poughkeepsie’s Vassar College, 1861-.

Mariner's House, 11 North Square, Boston: built by Sarah Josepha Hale's Seamen's Aid Society (now Boston Port and Seamen's Aid Society) in Greek Revival style in 1847 as inexpensive hotel for merchant mariners on active duty ~

Sarah's efforts honored her brother, Charles Whittlesey Buell (born September 27, 1784), lost at sea, while also benefiting "Those who go down to the sea in ships, Who do business on great waters" (Psalm 107:23).
Boston, Massachusetts
Boston, Massachusetts

 

Forty years later, Frank Andrew Munsey (August 21, 1854 – December 22, 1925) bought Godey’s Lady’s Book in 1877. Sarah exited still loving “The Lady’s Mentor” column. As an educated professional in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Sarah indeed realized all of her dearest causes:

  • Advancing United Statesian literature;
  • Educating and employing fatherless children and widowed spouses of shipwrecked sailors even after her first presidency with Boston Seaman’s Aid Society in 1833;
  • Establishing co-education and co-professionalism;
  • Getting the Bunker Hill Monument honoring the Revolutionary War’s first major battle -- atop Breed’s Hill in Massachusetts on June 17, 1775 -- completed in 1842;
  • Helping Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association rescue world-respected President George Washington’s (February 22, 1732 – December 14, 1799) historic home in 1858.

 

Sarah's private letter, dated September 28, 1863, to President Abraham Lincoln concerning Thanksgiving as a national holiday:

"Sir, Permit me, as Editress of the "Godey's Book," to request a few minutes of your precious time, while laying before you a subject of deep interest to myself and -- as I trust -- even to the President of our Republic, of some importance."
American Treasures at the Library of Congress
American Treasures at the Library of Congress

 

Sarah actualized two dreams whose final resolution demanded faith in posterity. They respectively commemorated her abiding love for:

  • Music and nature;
  • Nation and people.

In the first case, Sarah let her poem “Mary’s Lamb” be published in 1830 and set to music by hymn composer Lowell Mason (January 8, 1792 – August 11, 1872). In the second case, she pushed for Thanksgiving joining Independence Day (July 4th) and President Washington’s birthday as national holidays throughout the presidencies of:

  • Zachary Taylor (November 24, 1784 – July 9, 1850);
  • Millard Fillmore (January 7, 1800 – March 8, 1874);
  • Franklin Pierce (November 23, 1804 – October 8, 1869);
  • James Buchanan (April 23, 1791 – June 1, 1868);
  • Abraham Lincoln (February 12, 1809 – April 15, 1865).

 

depiction of schoolkid Mary and her precious lamb

Girl cropped from 1876 oil painting by John George Brown (November 11, 1831 – February 8, 1913)
Girl cropped from 1876 oil painting by John George Brown (November 11, 1831 – February 8, 1913)

Conclusion: Honoring a frisky lamb and a tasty bird

 

The twenty-first century allows little time for pre-computer people and places. For them, “Mary’s Lamb” becomes a piano-playing benchmark. Fall/spring breaks and summer/winter holidays eclipse Thanksgiving. But the survival of both pre-electronics events is due to one woman’s love of:

  • A battle-killed son and a short-lived daughter;
  • A hard-working sister-in-law, a health-compromised husband, a sea-claimed brother, and a war-wounded father;
  • A frisky lamb and a tasty bird.

Thanks to Henry Ford (July 30, 1863 – April 7, 1947), Sarah perished knowing that her poem was being called plagiarism. Thanks to Episcopalians, Freemasons, and President Franklin Roosevelt (January 30, 1822 – April 12, 1945), there always remain thanks-givers to Sarah:

  • On her feast day;
  • Before the piano;
  • At the table.  

 

On November 26, 1941, via 32nd U.S. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's signature, Sarah Josepha Hale's dreams for Thanksgiving as a national holiday were finalized -- 62 years 6+ months after her death.

1945 oil on canvas by Douglas Granville Chandor (August 20, 1897 - January 13, 1953)
National Portrait Gallery, Washington DC
National Portrait Gallery, Washington DC

Acknowledgment

 

My special thanks to:

  • Talented artists and photographers/concerned organizations who make their fine images available on the Internet;
  • Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University for superior on-campus and on-line resources.

In 1927, industrialist Henry Ford had “Redstone” schoolhouse, scene of "Mary Had a Little Lamb," moved from original site in Sterling, Massachusetts, to current site in North Framingham:

Henry Ford (July 30, 1863 – April 7, 1947) decided to call Sarah Josepha Hale a plagiarist.
North Framingham, Framingham, Middlesex County, east central Massachusetts
North Framingham, Framingham, Middlesex County, east central Massachusetts

Sources Consulted

 

Anonymous. 1 January 2001. "Sarah Josepha Hale, Original Name: Sarah Buell." Find A Grave: Memorial #434. Retrieved November 1, 2014.

  • Available at: http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=434

Baym, Nina. June 1990. "Onward Christian Women: Sarah J. Hale's History of the World." The New England Quarterly. 63(2):249.

"Boston Port and Seamen's Aid Society." Mariners House. Boston, MA. Retrieved November 1, 2014.

  • Available at: http://www.marinershouse.org/bpsas.html

Brown, Janice. 1 May 2007. "Newport New Hampshire Milliner, Author, Poet, Editor and 'Mother of Thanksgiving': Sarah Josepha (Buell) Hale (1788-1879)." New Hampshire's History Blog: History & Genealogy Blogs > Cow Hampshire Blog. Retrieved November 1, 2014.

  • Available at: http://www.cowhampshireblog.com/2007/05/01/newport-new-hampshire-milliner-author-poet-editor-and-mother-of-thanksgiving-sarah-josepha-buell-hale-1788-1879/

"Bunker Hill Monument." National Park Service: History & Culture > Boston's Revolutionary War. Retrieved November 1, 2014.

  • Available at: http://www.nps.gov/bost/historyculture/bhm.htm

cynical. 17 January 2014. "Cover Genealogy - Anthropology - Horatio Hale - Clinton Ontario." Stamp Community Forums: All Forums > World Stamps and Covers Discussions > Canadian Stamps and Covers. Retrieved November 1, 2014.

  • Available at: http://www.stampcommunity.org/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=35859

Finley, Ruth Elbright. 1931. The Lady of Godey's, Sarah Josepha Hale. Philadelphia, PA; and London, England: J.B. Lippincott Company.

Hale, Mrs. Sarah J. "Anne Boleyn." Ladies’ Magazine, and Literary Gazette, Vol. IV, No. I (January 1831): 1 – 4.

  • Available via Internet Archive at: https://archive.org/stream/americanladiesma04hale#page/n12/mode/1up

Levy, Tedd. 25 November 2013. "Looking Back: How Thanksgiving Became a National Holiday." Shoreline Times. Digital First Media CT. Retrieved November 1, 2014.

  • Available at: http://www.shorelinetimes.com/articles/2013/11/25/opinion/doc5293b36ff0999827249982.txt

Lewis, Jone Johnson. "Our National Thanksgiving." About.com: About Education > Women's History > Godey's Lady's Book and Sarah Hale. Retrieved November 1, 2014.

  • Available at: http://womenshistory.about.com/od/thanksgiving/a/hale_thanksday.htm

Lewis, Jone Johnson. "Sarah Josepha Hale." About.com: About Education > Women's History > Godey's Lady's Book and Sarah Hale. Retrieved November 1, 2014.

  • Available at: http://womenshistory.about.com/od/godeyshale/a/Sarah-Josepha-Hale.htm

Mott, Frank Luther. 1938 - 1968. A History of American Magazines. Cambridge, England: Harvard University Press.

Niles, Lisa. May 2003. "Sarah Josepha Hale 1788-1879." Women Writers: Domestic Goddesses a.k.a. "scribbling mobs of women". Retrieved November 1, 2014.

  • Available at: http://www.womenwriters.net/domesticgoddess/hale1.html

Patricia Okker, Our Sister Editors: Sarah J. Hale and the Tradition of Nineteenth-Century American Women Editors (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1995);

Sherbrooke Rogers, Sarah Josepha Hale: A New England Pioneer, 17881879 (Grantham, N.H.: Tompson & Rutter, 1985).

- See more at: http://www.encyclopedia.com/topic/Sarah_Josepha_(Buell)_Hale.aspx#sthash.AL3UqfPA.dpuf

Patricia Okker, Our Sister Editors: Sarah J. Hale and the Tradition of Nineteenth-Century American Women Editors (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1995);

Sherbrooke Rogers, Sarah Josepha Hale: A New England Pioneer, 17881879 (Grantham, N.H.: Tompson & Rutter, 1985).

- See more at: http://www.encyclopedia.com/topic/Sarah_Josepha_(Buell)_Hale.aspx#sthash.AL3UqfPA.dpuf

Patricia Okker, Our Sister Editors: Sarah J. Hale and the Tradition of Nineteenth-Century American Women Editors (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1995);

Sherbrooke Rogers, Sarah Josepha Hale: A New England Pioneer, 17881879 (Grantham, N.H.: Tompson & Rutter, 1985).

- See more at: http://www.encyclopedia.com/topic/Sarah_Josepha_(Buell)_Hale.aspx#sthash.AL3UqfPA.dpuf

Okker, Patricia, 1995. Our Sister Editors: Sarah J. Hale and the Tradition of Nineteenth-Century American Women Editors. Athens, GA: University of Georgia Press.

Read, Thomas Buchanan. The Female Poets of America. With Portraits, Biographical Notices, and Specimens of Their Writings. Philadelphia PA: E.H. Butler & Co., 1850.

  • Available via Internet Archive at: https://archive.org/details/femalepoetsofame00read

Rogers, Sherbrooke. 1985. Sarah Josepha Hale: A New England Pioneer, 1788–1879. Grantham, N.H.: Tompson & Rutter.

"Sarah Josepha Buell (1788-1879)." Ancestry.com: Historical Person Search > Search Results. Retrieved November 1, 2014.

  • Available at: http://records.ancestry.com/sarah_josepha_buell_records.ashx?pid=29112440

"Sarah Josepha Hale (Buell)." Geni.com. Retrieved November 1, 2014.

  • Available at: http://www.geni.com/people/Sarah-Josepha-Hale/6000000016124507624

"The Sarah Josepha Hale Memorial Park Dedication: November 23, 2013 at 3:00 p.m." Richards Free Library. Newport, New Hampshire. Retrieved November 1, 2014.

  • Available at: http://www.rfltest.dreamhosters.com/sarah-josepha-hale-memorial-park/

"Thanksgiving History: Sarah Josepha Hale Biography." Essortment: History & Biographies. Demand Media. Retrieved November 1, 2014.

  • Available at: http://www.essortment.com/thanksgiving-history-sarah-josepha-hale-biography-20924.html

Tonkovich, Nicole. 1997. Domesticity with a Difference: The Nonfiction of Catharine Beecher, Sarah J. Hale, Fanny Fern, and Margaret Fuller. Jackson, MS: University Press of Mississippi.

"Transcription: Hunter, Frances Anne Hale (wife of Lewis Boudinot Hunter) Mar 20, 1819 - Jul 4, 1894." Distant Cousin.com: Cemeteries > Princeton Cemetery, Princeton, Mercer County, NJ - H > Princeton Cemetery Gravemarker Photo #859. Retrieved November 1, 2014.

  • Available at: http://distantcousin.com/cemetery/nj/mercer/princetoncem/h.html

Welles, Albert. 1881. History of the Buell Family in England. New York, NY: Society Library.

Wohlers, Charles. 13 March 2010. "Sarah Josepha Buell Hale, Editor and Prophetic Witness, 1879." The Lectionary: A Collection of Lectionary Resources for the Episcopal Church Updated Every Sunday Night. Satucket Software. Retrieved November 1, 2014.

  • Available at: http://satucket.com/lectionary/sara_hale.htm

 

Sarah Josepha Hale, ca. 1850

Thomas Buchanan Read, The Female Poets of America (1850), opp. p. 181
Thomas Buchanan Read, The Female Poets of America (1850), opp. p. 181
the end which is also the beginning
the end which is also the beginning

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DerdriuMarriner, All Rights Reserved.
DerdriuMarriner, All Rights Reserved.
Updated: 04/28/2016, DerdriuMarriner
 
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