Skip to main content

tv   Melanie Kirkpatrick Lady Editor  CSPAN  November 25, 2021 11:00am-12:01pm EST

11:00 am
will one day take over the planet. and later, dr. paul offit of the children's hospital of philadelphia discusses the risks associated with medical innovation. for more schedule information, visit or consult your program guide. here's medicalny kirkpatrick on the importance and influence of the godey's lady's book periodical. >> it's a cliche to say that life can change in a single instant but saying so doesn't make it any less shattering when it strikes in your own life. for the pregnant young mother in the hills of central new hampshire the moment arrived in september 1822 when it began to snow. sarah was a new englander born and bred and snow didn't usually faze her but this was different. it was too early in the season for the first snow. leaves were still on the trees and she stood at her front door
11:01 am
watching the snow changing the village green into a sheet of white. she was still concerned about her husband. he had headed on horseback to an appointment with a legal client. he was lightly dressed, unprepared for the storm that no one expected. when he finally staggered into the house that evening he was soaked through to the skin, shivering with the cold. sarah helped him undress and get into bed. the cold quickly turned into fever and ferociously into pneumonia. his funeral was held at the baptist meeting house. a month after her husband's death, sarah brought their fifth child into the world. little william joined his now fatherless brothers and sisters, david and horatio, frances and josepha. the new widow had no illusions about what came next. david had made a good living as a lawyer but like many young married couples, the hales had
11:02 am
no savings to speak of. until the boys were old enough to go out to work or until she remarried, an unthinkable prospect, she and her children would have no choice but to rely on the charity her family and others might offer. david's brother freemasons would offer assistance but even so, it would be trouble. that is the opening of a biography of sarah josepha hale. i'm ann marie houser. i'm joined with my colleague and senior fellow melanie kirkpatrick and the biographer of this book. she was a long time journalist at "the wall street journal" and we have the pleasure of hearing more from her today about this book and why she wrote it. before there was oprah or martha stewart, there was sarah josepha
11:03 am
hale, one of the most famous women but mostly forgotten from the 19th century. she was the godmother of thanksgiving. you are in for a treat. this book is terrific. this woman is fascinating. i'm going to have melanie open up with a few comments and then we will have a curated conversation back and forth and then we look forward to taking your questions to discuss this further. so without further ado, melanie, welcome. >> thank you, ann marie, it's wonderful to be here and i thank you and the hudson institute for hosting this wonderful event and giving me the chance to talk about the woman i think is the most or one of the most important and influential women in american history. i'll make one correction to your introduction, in the persona of mrs. hale. she i think would have liked for you to have called me on
11:04 am
authoress and you would have been a vice presidentess. >> okay. >> she loved words that designated professional women as women. so hear we are, authoress and presidentess. you mentioned that she's mostly forgotten today, and that's true. if she's remembered, it's as the godmother of thanksgiving or as the author of "mary had a little lamb," which i bet you didn't know. i always thought mother goose had written that but it turned out sarah josepha hale did in 1830. but i learned about hale when i was writing my book on the history of thanksgiving. and i was really blown away by her. i learned she was editor of the
11:05 am
most widely-circulated magazine of the first half of the 19th century. and she had enormous influence over the culture of our country, over the idea of educating women. and she was the godmother of thanksgiving, the modern day holiday that we still celebrate. >> that's terrific. yeah, i wanted to open up with your writing in those opening paragraphs because i think it really sets the stage for, this woman is extraordinary for all the reasons you mentioned, she was 33, debt-ridden, a mother of five and widowed, and she had some decisions to make. if she had ever remarried, we wouldn't have had this big impact, potentially, that she had on this country, do you think that's fair to say? >> it is. she was motivated because of her passion for educating her children. she was probably the -- one of
11:06 am
the best -- she was certainly one of the best-educated women of the early 19th century. this was an era when she started her magazine in 1828, only half of american women were literate. and there was no institute of higher education that would admit women. yet she, sarah hale, had been educated first by her mother, who believed that her daughters should be as well-educated as her sons. and then by her brother horatio who went off to dartmouth and of course sarah couldn't go with him because dartmouth didn't accept women until the 1970s. but horatio would come home and teach her everything he had learned. then when hale got married, she and her husband had a ritual with every evening, they would sit together at the sitting room table after dinner and for two hours they would study not just
11:07 am
literature but also science and french. >> botany. >> botany and minerology, subjects that were not usually considered women's subjects. >> right, right. i love what you said about her mother, she was profoundly influenced by her mother who was her first schoolteacher. my mom is in the audience, i can attest to that, she's also a schoolteacher. i felt seen by mrs. hale when she said that. she said there's no influence so powerful as that in her mother but next in rank of efficacy is a school master. it seems that set her on this trajectory, her mother's influence and also her husband. maybe you can speak to some of these influences in her life. >> i think you're right, her family influences were enormous. another influence was her
11:08 am
father, a revolutionary war veteran. she was born in 1788, a year before washington was sworn in as president of the united states. she lived through the terms of 19 presidents. so she had a very long and diverse life, encompassing almost a century of enormous changes in american history. and i think that this ground influenced her writing enormously. after her husband died, the masons in town set her up in a millenary shop. she hated it. she started to write. she had already published -- her husband had published her poems in local publications before his death and then she managed to
11:09 am
get poems published in boston publications. and then she wrote a novel called "northwood" which was an antislavery novel. it came out in 1827. and it caught the eye of a man in boston who was starting a magazine for women. and out of the blue, he wrote and asked her to be the founding editor. so -- and she had to make a tough decision about whether or not to move to boston. >> because you can speak to that, explain some of the difficult decisions she had to make when leaving. >> this was a tough one, because she had five kids and she couldn't afford to take all of them. so she took the baby with her and the other four children were parcelled out to relatives with whom they lived for quite a few years before they could join hale eventually in boston at her boarding house. >> i find that so excruciating,
11:10 am
i can't imagine what that must have been like, but she had to make a salary. >> she had to make choices. she decided the only way she was going to be able to afford to educate the kids as she and her husband had dreamed was for her to take this job and succeed at it. >> right, right. and magazine startups, they're not known for being, you know, a sure thing and succeeding. >> yeah, and this was an early one, too. there weren't many magazines in america until the beginning of the 19th century. and there were some for women, but they were -- they were fluffy. and she was determined to do something very serious. >> you write that she really kind of changed the genre of women's magazines. that, you know, a lot of the magazines at that time were geared towards female readers, were trashy, still true today in
11:11 am
some ways. but, you know, you write that she wanted the ladies magazine in boston to be a promotion of leadership in credible causes. you mentioned her patriotism. you said it was dave ramsey's book that made her a patriot for life. these two things, it's very clear how they were infused. where did that come from and why was she so different from others at the time? >> her patriotism extended to the idea, she firmly believed that while american had been unified politically by the revolution, it was not unified culturally. she set out to change that. so in her magazine she did something that was surprising and different for the day. she decided to public american
11:12 am
authors writing on american topics. now, from our point of view, this would seem, of course, ordinary, obvious. people want to read about american topics and fellow americans. but it was unusual for the day, where cut and paste journalism was the norm. an editor would literally cut out an article from a british or other magazine or newspaper and paste it into the dummy for his publication. and she set out to do something different. at the beginning she had to write half or more of the magazines herself, and then when it merged with godey's lady's book, mr. godey had the money to extend the vision and pay the authors. she had a very good eye for talent. and some of the people who she published you will have heard
11:13 am
of. edgar allen poe, for example, who called her a woman of genius, and excuse the sexism, masculine energy. and nathaniel hawthorne was another. >> longfellow. >> longfellow, yes. she also published many women. she was able to jump-start their careers by publishing them in the lady's book. the young harriet beecher stowe, and many others. >> i think that's extraordinary. and it wasn't just -- it was female education but she also believed that women needed to be educated so they can better instruct their children with the new republic's civil virtues. she called this the doctrine of
11:14 am
republican, small "r" republican, motherhood. do you want to expand on that? >> this is a very important point. as i mentioned earlier, when she started her magazine only half of american women were literate. she deeply believed that women had the same intellectual capabilities as men, but the difference was that men were educated and women weren't. so she believed -- and she believed that education was a lifelong process. she wanted women to be educated, to read and write and study subjects that previously had been considered too taxing for the female mind. but she considered it a lifelong process. in her magazine she would publish reading lists and articles about science, and very serious stuff. but for 50 years, every issue of every magazine that she edited talked about the importance of
11:15 am
educating women. and yes, one reason was -- an essential reason was, as you read earlier, a mother is the first teacher of the child. and she thought women needed to be educated in order to teach their children about everything. particularly religion and particularly civic virtues. this was also part of the reason that she wanted a national thanksgiving day. she saw it as a way of [ inaudible ] together. >> right, which after the war, and this is from -- she was born right after the revolutionary war and then lived through the civil war. >> yes. >> so she lived through the time when we weren't the united states, we were very torn apart in many ways today in our country but i wonder if our country now would be -- would benefit -- obviously they would
11:16 am
benefit from reading this book but would they be receptive to her efforts to unify the united states. >> i would like to think so, ann marie. the virtues of our american system which she touted and which were very deeply held by her, i think they haven't changed. as the nation progressed towards civil war, she accelerated her campaign for a national thanksgiving day. and i guess i should give a little bit of history. in the early part of the 19th century, many of the states, but not all, celebrated thanksgiving. but they didn't do it on the same day. the governor would decide when to call a thanksgiving day. and so there was an old saying, which i love, which is that if you were a traveler and you
11:17 am
planned your itinerary carefully, you could have a thanksgiving dinner every week between election day and christmas. sounds pretty good. >> a lot of turkey. >> and -- but as we -- as the civil war approached, she, as i said, accelerated her campaign. she talked about how she wanted to unify the country and prevent it from going to war. >> okay. we'll come back to that and her later on, the president she finally got to make a special proclamation. you spoke about her believing that men and women were intellectual equivalents. she didn't think they were physical, she was happy to concede, you know, men are built to be stronger than women. but she believed that the moral superiority of women was what it meant to be a woman, we were
11:18 am
morally superior and that was our purpose in life. unlike much of the feminism you see in modern day, she didn't put men down, from what i can tell from your biography. as a matter of fact in her first magazine in boston, we were just talking about the lady's magazine, she appealed to the men because she recognized the reality, from my understanding, they were going to be the ones who would buy this magazine, because they controlled the finances, for the wife. so she appealed to fathers, mothers, she wrote to the parents, basically there's going to be nothing in this magazine to weaken parental authority, nothing found on the pages of this publication will cause the wife to be less assiduous in preparing for his reception. i know that sounds crazy to our modern ears but i see it as very savvy. >> it was very savvy. i think her tongue was in her cheek a little bit there when she wrote this. but she was practical. she understood that men,
11:19 am
fathers, and husbands had the authority, not just the financial authority, but they could ban the magazine. they were the deciders. but this idea of women as moral exemplars is a very interesting one. obviously today we don't think of one sex as being more ethical or more moral than the other. but i think there's something to it, because women are mothers. and women usually managed the households. so, according to hale, had -- and i think i agree with this, even today, had a certain status, and a certain responsibility to teach their children how to be good citizens and how to be good people. >> in the chapter, the dignity and housekeeping too, she very
11:20 am
much saw -- she taught her children sewing and taking care of the house as much as being educated. she created this idea of a professional housewife. >> she did, she created the term "domestic science" because she wanted to elevate the status of housekeeping. she also spoke a lot about educating housewives, educating mothers, because she said just as a farmer needs to know something about how to grow good wheat, a farmer's wife needs to learn about how to bake good bread. >> right. >> but the whole idea of -- this goes back to the whole idea of teaching. when she started in 1828, started her magazine in 1828, women were considered not to be qualified to be teachers. >> right. >> they could teach small children their letters, but they didn't have the moral authority
11:21 am
or the learning. >> the education. >> the education, to teach older kids. so her campaign for many, many years was to change the national conversation about women's futures. by the '40s, by the 1840s, as the country was expanding and little villages and towns all around -- and the frontier, were looking for teachers, women entered the teaching profession in large numbers. and by the '50s, the 1850s, there were more women than men as schoolteachers in america. and the last i looked, which was i think about a month ago, 76% of k-12 teachers today are women. >> yeah, you don't think that that is -- that's not how it always used to be, right, that was actually pretty astounding,
11:22 am
it was her that worked to push that. >> she also formed the first day-care center for working women in boston. >> that's right. >> she opened what is considered one of the first kindergartens for kids. they were called instant schools, right. and so then she worked very hard to support women's colleges and the co-education of men's colleges. >> she was big on women being educated to be doctors, nurses and bankers. >> this was -- because she wanted women to be doctors, and she had kind of a variation on the theme of separate spheres for men and women. you always read about the separate spheres for men and women in the 19th century with women belonging in the domestic sphere and men being in the
11:23 am
workaday world. she was different, she thought women could go out into the world and work. she wanted them to be designated by these suffixes. >> doctor. >> yes. she thought when it came to doctors, that female doctors should treat women and children, no men allowed. she didn't want men to treat women or children. she wanted only women to do it, because women had the compassion, she thought, and necessary concerns, i guess, that naturally made them better qualified than men. and this is true for some other professions. during the civil war, she urged the government to appoint women
11:24 am
as postmistresses because she made the obvious point that a lot of men who [ inaudible ] by the war or were single and couldn't find husbands and needed jobs, and so she pressed -- she really wanted the whole profession to become female only. it was a job you could do at home too, which i think made a difference. >> she really seemed to have an empathy towards widows, as a widow herself. sadly there were a surplus of windows during the civil war, which coincided with the popularity of her magazine and reaching them, which i think is significant. on the topic of women, she was a patriot, but we've got to bring up the question about the women's right to vote. >> yes. >> and she was actually anti-suffragette. i would love for you to talk more about that. >> from the point of view of the
11:25 am
21st century, being against suffrage for women seems abominable. in fact i think the reason she's no so well-known today as she deserves to be is in large part because she was anti-suffrage. her reasoning, though, is fascinating. number one -- remember, she started her work in the jacksonian period. she thought politics was a dirty business, and who can argue with that today? she thought that women were above the rough and tumble of politics, and that they deserved to be able to stay out of it and look at the moral issues that were involved and advise the men in their lives on the higher issues that they should keep their eye on instead of kind of the nasty compromises that they would literally fight about in the halls of congress. these were the days when men
11:26 am
went at each other, congressmen came at each other. >> on the senate floor. >> yeah, yeah. so after the civil war, she got into the suffrage movement a little -- the anti-suffrage movement a little bit. i should point out that in this period the vast majority of women in america were against suffrage. and so in a way, she was speaking for women whose voices were not being heard. and so i like to think that maybe she was beginning to change her mind a little bit, because at the end of her life, she began to support women on school boards. and that of course is the lowest level and in some ways the most powerful level of our government, it's down at the lowest level. >> very aggressive. >> very aggressive.
11:27 am
and she thought women belonged on school boards. >> that makes sense, that makes sense. one book we talked about earlier, the women's record, 2500 women, biographies, this book is a compilation of 2500 biographies, she was prolific. she was 65 i think when she wrote this book. >> according to the yale bibliography of american literature, hale wrote, edited, or contributed to 129 books, which is pretty amazing. and -- but the one that she thought was her masterpiece was called "women's record." it was a 900-page tome, it took three years to write, and it was the biographies of 2500 women, as you said, as the subtitle rather immodestly said, "from
11:28 am
the beginning of time to the present day." she was very proud of this book and deservedly so. it's the first work of history to put women at its center. and in that sense it was i think the precursor of the women's studies movement which didn't begin until the mid-20th century. >> there's wonderful story having to do with "women's record." >> she was good at -- she became good, it took her a while, at self-promotion. and she decided to send copies of "women's record" to notable women. among them was queen victoria. so she asked james buchanan, who would become president, but at the time he had just been appointed the ambassador to the uk, she asked him to take queen victoria a copy of her book. now, amazingly, he agreed.
11:29 am
>> she was that influential. >> she was that influential. he just said, yes, yes, i'll take a copy to queen victoria. and rather more amazingly, queen victoria wrote back, through her secretary, saying thank you for the book. and i have to say, i've always thought since then, since i read that, if i could ask the american ambassador to the uk to give a copy of -- but i don't have hale's chutzpah. >> speaking of queen victoria, she also was a trend setter in her country and nation. but there were certain influences. we've got some pictures up here. and these were incorporated into the godey's lady's book. you were talking about hale's influence, you wrote, since she was the preeminent cultural influence of the 19th century,
11:30 am
people said, mrs. hale said. this is how we talk. but this was -- these are two things, i didn't realize that because of her promotion of these in the magazine, we've got the christmas tree and then a wedding dress but a white wedding dress which was [ inaudible ] back then. >> that's right, queen victoria wore white at her wedding in 1840 and this caught on in britain. hale liked the idea and started promoting it in godey's lady's book, including publishing many, many drawings. this one was from 1859. she published the first i think in -- in the late '40s, something like that. and so it caught on. and by 1850 she was saying that the white wedding gown is the symbol of young american womanhood, et cetera, et cetera. and the christmas tree is even more interesting. a london newspaper published a picture of christmas at windsor
11:31 am
castle, and hale liked this idea, saw it, and was invited to publish it in godey's lady's book. so she did, with two alterations. she removed the queen's tiara and she removed the mustaches of prince albert, kind of the photoshopping of the day. she hated whiskers on men. she thought it made men look sneaky. that was one battle she didn't win. but those are two examples. she was very influential in other areas such as recipes. she introduced the first recipes into an american publication, a recipes column. and then she published a couple of books of her collected recipes. clothing was another example besides the wedding dress.
11:32 am
she inveighed against shoes that were too flimsy for cold weather. >> and bonnets. she hated fashion. >> this was serious writing. >> but it sounds like she also saw the benefits of it. it was american fashion, even though she [ inaudible ] queen victoria, she wanted to establish an american identity. >> indeed, she actually railed against british and french fashion saying, we're americans, when will we start promoting a republican, lower case "r," fashion. >> it's interesting, she was very savvy with her time. i just think we take so much of this for granted and you look back and realize her influence has really -- on our country, she's almost like a founding
11:33 am
mother of our country, alongside. do you think she would be canceled today? >> for sure. i think she has been canceled, before canceling was popular. the 20th century scholarship on her, because of her anti-suffrage view, in my view, has dismissed her. >> instead of taking her whole life into account and all the things we talked about. >> yes. i also think after her death, she was editor for 50 years, and she died in 1879. >> at the age of 90. >> at the age of 90. after her death, the magazine deteriorated. and i think she was falsely associated with that -- the less powerful version of the magazine. and her intellectual accomplishments were forgotten. and certainly by the end of the 19th century, the whole idea of suffrage had taken over the
11:34 am
women's movement and people didn't talk as much about educating women as they did about giving them -- giving us the right to vote. >> that's interesting. one last question and then we'll go to the audience. maybe you can just put a bow on thanksgiving and her impact on the president. >> well, she loved thanksgiving. and in her 1827 novel "northwood" there is what i think is the best description of an american thanksgiving day that i've read in american literature. >> which there is -- i think you put an excerpt in the book. >> there's an excerpt at the back of the book. and so in the 1840s, she decided that she wanted to try to get the president to call a national thanksgiving day, that is, a day when every american would celebrate on the same day in america and abroad. she said she could see a day when every american all around
11:35 am
the world would stop and give thanks the same day. and this certainly was true when i lived in japan and then hong kong, americans got together on thanksgiving day. but so she had, besides talking about this in godey's lady's book, she also had a private letter writing campaign. and she would write personal letters to very important influencers of the day, governors, mayors, and presidents of the united states, urging them to call a national thanksgiving. and hale being hale, the presidents wrote back. and they all said no, until lincoln. they said no, just as a brief aside, because they thought that the constitution did not give that power to presidents, they thought it belonged to governors. it wasn't enumerated in the
11:36 am
constitution, in other words. and i don't remember reading the word "thanksgiving" in the constitution. >> no. >> so that's probably right. so anyway, in 1863, she wrote to lincoln and he liked the idea. and he called in 1863 for a national thanksgiving day in a beautiful proclamation which i urge you to go back and read, which it was just after the battle of gettysburg and the tide of the war had turned, it looked like the union was going to win. >> right. >> and lincoln talked about americans coming together as one people and celebrating with one voice. it's a lovely image and one that we could heed today. >> right. we desperately needed it then and need it now. that's right, that's terrific. >> after lincoln's death, hale was indefatigable. she didn't give up, she
11:37 am
continued to write to the presidents for the rest of her life, that was johnson, grant, and then hayes, i believe. and they all followed suit. and by then, the tradition had caught on. >> powerful woman. terrific. all right. why don't we take some questions from the audience. we have a couple of questions up here. kirstin's got the mic. >> thank you very much, that was wonderful. you began by talking about yourself as an author. and in the book you talk about the influence that sarah josepha hale had on what it means to be an author in america. i was wondering if you could talk a little bit more about that. >> sure. yeah, she -- before hale -- being an author of a book was pretty -- usually a private undertaking. it was -- you would either
11:38 am
self-publish or you would find somebody who would stake you and publish. for example, poe's first book of poetry was published by contributions from his fellow cadets at west point. hale's first book was published because the freemasons who had been brothers of her husband came up with some money. but hale thought that being an author could be a profession. and she believed you should be paid for your work. this was the -- the idea she took as she started her magazine in the 1820s. of course as we know, the idea of independent author, male or female, really took off and
11:39 am
people were indeed professionals. you could also see this idea in the 1840s when mr. godey, the owner and publisher of godey's lady's book, decided to copyright the magazine. i believe it was under her influence, but i couldn't find any direct evidence of that. and he and she were roundly criticized for this, that because he wanted to stop the practice of newspapers stealing articles from godey's lady's book and publishing them before the magazines could even reach their subscribers. and again, that supported the idea that authors should be paid for their work. and of course i like this idea. >> a lot of copying and pasting and stealing.
11:40 am
julia. >> thank you so much for joining us today, a fascinating talk. you mentioned that she published harriet beecher stowe. i know she was a firm abolitionist. could you speak a little bit about the extent of her involvement in the abolitionist movement? >> well, she wasn't an abolitionist. she was against slavery, she thought it was morally wrong. and i don't know if she ever knew any slaves. when she died -- when she was born, pardon me, the census a couple of years after her birth showed that there was one slave in her little town in new hampshire. but she certainly had visited -- i believe, again, it's not proven, documented -- i think she visited the south, so she had encountered slavery. and her first book was kind of an imagined view of slavery in which she -- it was clear that she was against it and supported the arguments against it. but she, being a great i
11:41 am
guess -- being a woman of the 18th century, thought that the bargain that the founders had made over slavery should continue until the time that the country could peaceably get rid of slavery. she supported what was known as colonization, and that is sending freed slaves to africa, to a colony that became the country of liberia. and she did this because she thought that slaves, freed slaves, wouldn't be able to succeed in america. she wrote a book called "mr. payton's experiments" that came out in the 1850s in which mr. payton, a slaveowner, wanted to free his slaves but he wanted them to be successful so he didn't know where to send them, how to help them.
11:42 am
so in the novel he sends one group to a northern city, another group to a rural town, and a third group to canada. and they all had terrible experiences. they faced racism, discrimination, and they can't make a living. so in the end, he decides to send them all to liberia. and i -- you know, again, from our perspective, i think that was her attitude towards slavery. she certainly supported the union during the war, no question about that. but it's hard to wrap my head around this idea. there were many people of the day who thought that this was a reasonable idea. she didn't write at all about --
11:43 am
after the war, by then she was in her 70s, she didn't write, that i could tell, about the moral duties of white people to use the -- and help freed slaves. i think that wasn't a shame and -- i think that was a shame and deficiency about her work. >> melanie, congratulations for this work and for reviving her -- introducing her to our generation. and she is an amazingly accomplished, influential woman. and holds many lessons i think in a timely way for our own issues of national unity and cultural unity and civic education. i wondered if she was -- leaving
11:44 am
aside this suffrage issue and the civil war, was she controversial in her day? was her work and her advocacy for women's work or women's role in society and education, was that considered controversial? did she have a fan base and opponents? how did the other regions of the country feel towards her, like the south? >> the south loved her magazine. she had about a third of the subscription of godey's lady's book was in the south. >> they loved fashion. >> they loved fashion, okay. she was very, very popular. i think ann marie referred earlier to the phrase "mrs. hale
11:45 am
says" when there was a dispute over a domestic matter or whatever. but also i found newspapers of the day that would quote her on serious issues as well as frivolous ones, more frivolous ones. so she was an authority. she did not support the women's rights movements. she didn't like the idea of rights. she preferred opportunities as a way of expressing the -- should be open to women. she was a very convivial and gracious woman. and there's a woman letter i found, it was an article, i guess, i found written about a visit that the feminist lucy mott made to her home in philadelphia and talking about what a gracious reception she
11:46 am
had received, and she was sorry that hale didn't fully support their cause, but that was okay, everybody, you know, could think differently. but she got into trouble a few times. and one which i think we really haven't talked about has to do with philanthropy. when she was living in boston, the early '30s, a group of men had come together to raise money to build the bunker hill monument. it was going to be a monument in memory of the first battle of the revolution. and they couldn't raise enough money. so hale stepped forward and said she would ask her readers and the women of new england to contribute. and she was public about this. and she did make calls in her
11:47 am
magazine for women to send in money. and she was criticized by some men in a public way for doing this, because they said that men control the money in a house, and anything that a woman gives really is coming from -- to which she replied, citing a biblical passage, that women could -- again, i can't remember exactly, but women gave up their gold ornaments in order to fund something or other. >> the temple. >> yeah, i think that's right. so she got into trouble over that. in the end, her fundraising campaign didn't work. it didn't raise enough money. but a couple of years later, it was revived, and she started a fair, a big fair in boston that raised enough money to complete the monument.
11:48 am
and i think this is the first example of a woman in america as the leader of a major philanthropy. the women of mount vernon, the lady's society of mount vernon are often referred to as this is the first major women's philanthropy but bunker hill preceded it. in fact a woman who spearheaded the mount vernon reconstruction was advised by hale and had a similar structure in how she went about raising the money. so she got into trouble over that. i'm trying to think if there was anything else. i can't remember anything else off the top of my head. >> thank you for bringing back
11:49 am
to life this great american. >> can you make sure that's on? sorry. >> oh, sorry. i said, first, thank you first bringing back the life of this great american for readers today. i hope it gets wide attention. i wanted to ask, from your discussion, it appears to me that when you say she would have been canceled today, it sounds like, okay, she didn't push equality in the kind of absolute terms that suffrage and movements today would do it, both gender-based and non-gender-based movements. but i wonder if -- is the reason that she didn't engage in that kind of -- this is the principle and that trumps or that dominates everything, is it a matter of her judgment about what was prudent but these kinds of social change and -- for the country, or is it her republicanism that you see as
11:50 am
important here, that what you have to do is you have to persuade people, they have to consent, i mean, the discussion you had about abolition and holding the country together seems to imply that she's waiting for a principle that placed on them that overrides their decision. that persuasion is more important than enforcing whatever you may believe is a just principle. how do you understand her understanding of how you properly create change or engage in these kinds of -- since she's not political, but of course, she is post-political, and cultural stuff in a zone that's political, and private. so how -- how does she understand the parameters of proper action? >> i haven't thought of to it in those terms, john, and i would like to reflect on it, but she -- she certainly was not --
11:51 am
what's the word? she didn't believe in, you know, top down government. in other words top down index. she was certainly open to what her leaders had said, and she had published letters from her readers, but i don't know if she thought of it in terms of lower case "r" republican terms. she -- you have to remember that the 18th century mentality about women was very different than what you would think of today. she, i think, overcame huge social and cultural hurdles just in pressing the education to the
11:52 am
extent that she did, and pressing for women to be involved in the workplace, in the same way as she did. there are a lot of contradictions in her book though. she was happy for women to be doctors or waitresses or teachers, but then she -- she wasn't crazy about women becoming lawyers because she just thought that area was, you know, more for men. how do you explain that? it was too political, and so in her own life, she said that she abhorred ambition in winners, and yet look at her life. surely at some point after her kids had all been educated, she
11:53 am
could have retired, but she didn't. she just wanted to keep climbing to new heights. so i don't know, but she certainly did not believe in making demands on people. she wanted to overcome that for women. >> thank you so much. this is so fascinating. what comes to mind when she started this in the form, and the abolition at the beginning of this? and the other template. >> yeah. >> i was just wondering, you know, it seems that she didn't really want to get into the abolitionist movement too much, and it sounds like she didn't.
11:54 am
>> yep. >> it was a driver for her. what happened to push her? >> absolutely. yeah. she was a very early supporter of the temperance movement. it started in the late 1820s, and she writes a lot about temperance and she published the most temperance writer of the day, a man, and she wrote a book about the dangers of alcohol and how it impacted women. there's one novella called "my cousin mary," which is about mary who makes the fatal decision to marry a man who drinks, and you know what happens to mary. she ended up very unhappy, but
11:55 am
she also in her cookbook would invade against drinking too, and said that they would find no recipes for alcohol in her cookbooks. she did include recipes that included alcohol. here? >> yeah. >> and the idea was that the alcohol would be burned off before you ate the product, and one of her big philanthropies along with the hill monument for which she was remembered is the seaman's aid society which started in boston and grew around the world -- around the country. pardon me. this was to help the wives of seamen who went off to sea and then in many cases never came
11:56 am
back because their ship failed -- sank, and she started the vocational school for the women. she supported charity. she wanted women to have the dignity of being able to work for a living and take care of their families. again, i think harking back to her personal story. so -- and she would write about how sometimes seamen would come home, and they would take the money that their wives had earned, and use it to buy drinks. back in the day, maybe you heard of a system called coverture which was a legal -- it was a common law legal practice by a woman who marries was forced to give all of her property rights to her husband, and the husband
11:57 am
had the right to take everything she earned, everything she inherited, and decide what to do with it. she wrote many, many editorials trying to get that lifted, and i think her work had some -- some influence there, but part of the -- part of the -- some of the stories she would tell about women who were -- whose finances were ruined by their husbands because the husbands drank, you know, great. okay. if there's no more questions, i will let monique have the last word, but before we break, i want to mention to everyone her first book "thanksgiving: the holiday at the heart of the american experience." it's out on paperback as of yesterday. this is a tremendous book, and if you see her interviews around thanksgiving every year, melanie is wonderful on this holiday,
11:58 am
and now continuing. i guess i will conclude by saying that on november 25th, i hope you will think of the detail and also think of the hope that thanksgiving will work to bring people together and to bring our country together, and help take us back. thank you. [ applause ] stay up to day on the latest in publishing with book tv's newest podcast about books. we'll look at industry news and trends through insider interviews as well as reporting on the nonfiction releases and best-seller lists. you can find about books in all of our podcasts on the app or wherever you get your podcasts. you can also watch online at
11:59 am
book tv, every weekend features leading authors discussing their nonfiction books. watch our coverage of the brooklyn book festival with a conversation of heather mcgee, author of "the sum of us." and george packer, author of "last best hope" as they offer ways to overcome inequalities and divisions within the country. then another author on "between the lines." her connection of interviews she conducted with over 170 people she met in the new york city subway, and a conversation between paul oster and george carol oates, on the zora neil thursen about the last living survivor of the atlantic slave trade was published in 2018 by amistad press. then on afterwards, the head of a children's hospital of philadelphia's infectious
12:00 pm
disease division, and director of their vaccine education center, you bet your life from blood transfusion to long and risky history of medical innovation. he's interviewed by an epidemiologist at johns hopkins. find a full schedule on your program guide or watch online any time at some people say that artificial intelligence is going to make the human race obsolete, and a lot of people don't want to think about a.i. artificial intelligence. it's kind of an intimiing subject, but the think about a.i., is even if you don't want to think about it, it's thinking about you. or is it. that will be the kind of question we ask today on this episode of "independent conversations" greetings, everybody who's joined


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on