From 1827 to 1877, Sarah Josepha Buell Hale influenced public opinion through the pages of the women’s magazines she edited, the Ladies’ Magazine and Godey’s Lady’s Book. As literary editor of Godey’s Lady’s Book, the leading women’s magazine in the United States, she promoted numerous social and political causes, among them women’s education, the advancement of women in the medical profession, women’s property rights, unity between the North and South, and colonization for African Americans. In addition to her career as an editor, she wrote extensively, publishing novels, essays, poems, short stories, plays, anthologies, cookbooks, etiquette pamphlets, and a women’s biographical dictionary. As the conflict over slavery increasingly divided the North and South during the 1850s, she promoted programs that would foster national unity, all through the pages of Godey’s Lady’s Book. She lent her editorial support to the project to rescue Mount Vernon, George Washington’s home in Virginia in the mid-1850s. During the Civil War, her 17-year campaign to install a nationally celebrated Thanksgiving Day was realized when President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed the last Thursday in November 1863, as a day of National Thanksgiving.
A native of Newport, New Hampshire, Sarah Josepha Buell was the daughter of farmers. She was educated first by her mother, and then by her brother Horatio who tutored her during his vacations from Dartmouth College. In 1806, Buell established her own school and taught until she married attorney David Hale in 1813. Hale encouraged and assisted his