Edward Everett Hale


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Everett Hale (1822-1909), American author and Unitarian minister, nephew of Edward Everett (1794-1865), orator and statesman, and grandnephew of Nathan Hale (1755-1776), American Revolutionary War spy martyr, wrote The life of Christopher Columbus: from his own letters and journals and other documents of his time (1891).

From page 9 of The New York Times on 11 June 1909, Mark Twain wrote of Hale;

"I had the greatest esteem and respect for Edward Everett Hale, and the greatest admiration for his work. I am as grieved to hear of his death as I can ever be to hear of the death of any friend, though my grief is always tempered with the satisfaction of knowing that for him the hard, bitter struggle of life is ended."

Edward Everett Hale was born in Boston, Massachusetts on 3 April 1822. The son of Nathan Hale (1784-1863), journalist, proprietor, and Editor of the Boston Daily Advertiser, and his wife Sarah Preston Everett. At the age of thirteen he entered Harvard College, graduating second in his class of 1839. He then went on to teach at the Boston Latin School for two years, before becoming a journalist for his father's Daily Advertiser for a few years. After that, while studying theology and preparing to enter the ministry, he held various teaching positions. He was also putting pen to paper and writing essays and short stories. His first story "A Tale of a Salamander" was published in 1842.

Hale was soon well-acquainted with many literary figures of the day including Ralph Waldo Emerson and Oliver Wendell Holmes. Not quite satisfied with fiction and turning to a more didactic approach, he expressed his social conscience through his journalistic skills in writing tracts on various issues as anti-slavery and public education reform. He was ordained in 1846 and became a minister for the Congregationalist Church of the Unity in Worcester, Massachusetts (until 1856).

In 1852 Hale married the niece of Harriet Beecher Stowe, Emily Baldwin Perkins, with whom he had eight children. The Hales moved to Boston in 1856, where Hale served as pastor with the South Congregational Church (until 1899). Meanwhile, he was still producing articles for such esteemed publications as Atlantic Monthly. His first notable story was "My Double and How He Undid Me" (1859), full of autobiographical detail and humorous anecdote. However "The Man without a Country" (1863) published in the Atlantic was taken seriously; it was written to garner influence on the Ohio electorate to rally support for the Union, and became a revered patriotic work. Philip Nolan became one of America's best-known traitors, and Hale much respected for his outspoken views on religious and racial tolerance.

Fast becoming a popular reformer and Unitarian minister, Hale also helped found the Unitarian Church of America, and in his latter years was appointed Chaplain of the United States Senate (1903). He was asked "Do you pray for the Senators, Dr. Hale?" to which he replied "No, I look at the Senators, and pray for the country.". He was acquainted with such influential figures of the day as John Quincy Adams, President Theodore Roosevelt, President William Howard Taft, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Oliver Wendell Holmes. Roosevelt's own words about him were "an American of whose life all good Americans are proud". Hale's story "Ten Times One is Ten" (1870) contained the motto "Look up and not down, look forward and not back, look out and not in, and lend a hand" (Ch. VII) that was adopted by the Lend-a-Hand Clubs and Look-up Legions.

"Noblesse oblige, our privilege compels us; we professional men must serve the world, not, like the handicraftsmen, for a price accurately representing the work done, but as those who deal with infinite values, and confer benefits as freely and nobly as nature."--Hale, American Homeopathist Journal, February 1885

Edward Everett Hale died in Boston on 10 June 1909. He was buried at Forest Hills Cemetery and Crematory of Jamaica Plain, Suffolk County, Massachusetts. A life-size bronze statue of Hale, memorialising the man and his works, stands in the Boston Public Garden.

"I am only one, but I am still one; I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; and because I cannot do everything I will not refuse to do the something that I can do."--Hale, from Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations (1968)

Biography written by C.D. Merriman for Jalic Inc. Copyright Jalic Inc 2006. All Rights Reserved.

The above biography is copyrighted. Do not republish it without permission.

Recent Forum Posts on Edward Everett Hale

Where was Hale living in 1837?

I'm quoting a diary entry Hale wrote in 1837 after hearing Emerson's "American Scholar" oration. He was a Harvard student at the time, but does anyone know where he would likely have written in his diary? In other words, was he living at home or in a Harvard dormitory (if indeed Harvard had dormitories at the time)? Thanks to anyone who can help.


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