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Sarah Josepha Buell was born in New Hampshire in 1788 to Captain Gordon Buell and Martha Buell, both of whom were advocates for equal education for both sexes. In 1813 she married David Hale, a promising lawyer who shared her intellectual interests. In 1822, David died four days before the birth of their ﬁfth child. Sarah Buell Hale wore black for the rest of her life and to support her family she turned to her considerable literary skills. In a year a volume of poetry appeared, followed by a successful novel, Northwood: A Tale of New England, which was the ﬁrst American novel by a woman and one of the ﬁrst dealing with slavery. The success generated by Northwood enabled her to edit the popular Ladies’ Magazine, which she hoped would aid in educating women, as she wrote, “not that they may usurp the situation, or encroach upon the prerogatives of man; but that each individual may lend her aid to the intellectual and moral character of those within her sphere.”
In 1830, she published a book of verses for children aimed at the Sunday school market; it included the now-famous “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” originally called “Mary’s Lamb.” Following the examples of her parents, she labored consistently for women’s education and helped found Vassar College. Her publications, including the inﬂuential Godey’s Lady’s Book, promoted concern for women’s health, property rights, and opportunities for public recognition. Hale’s inﬂuence was widespread, particularly for middle class women, in matters of child-rearing, morality, literature, and dress. Although the editor of Godey’s instructed her to avoid party politics in the publication, she dedicated much energy to causes which could unite North and South across party lines. She worked diligently to preserve Bunker Hill and George Washington’s plantation home, Mount Vernon, as American monuments. She is perhaps most famous for the nationalization of the Thanksgiving holiday, toward which she worked many years and which ﬁnally received presidential sanction under Abraham Lincoln.
Her work, in both the women’s and national spheres, was exemplary for its conciliatory nature, its concern for the unity of the nation, and for her desire to honor the work and inﬂuence of women in society.
I Gracious God, we bless thy Name for the vision and witness of Sarah Hale, whose advocacy for the ministry of women helped to support the deaconess movement. Make us grateful for thy many blessings, that we may come closer to Christ in our own families; through Jesus Christ our Savior, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
II Gracious God, we bless your Name for the vision and witness of Sarah Hale, whose advocacy for the ministry of women helped to support the deaconess movement. Make us grateful for your many blessings, that we may come closer to Christ in our own families; through Jesus Christ our Savior, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Preface of a Saint (2)
From Holy, Women, Holy Men: Celebrating the Saints © 2010 by The Church Pension Fund. Used by permission.
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