WHO: Sarah Polk
WHAT: A new biography –
LADY FIRST: The World of First Lady Sarah Polk
by Amy S. Greenberg
WHEN: Published by Knopf February 6, 2019
WHERE: The author lives in State College PA
WHY: “Sarah Polk comes alive in these pages.
“Amy Greenberg, a professor of history and women’s studies at Pennsylvania State University, delivers a stellar biography of Sarah Polk, an influential yet not well-known 19th-century American woman.
“She argues that Polk, as first lady from 1845 to 1849, was powerful, popular, and publicly political. Liberal women supported the emerging women’s rights movement, but the more conservative Polk acquired power by manipulating female deference—remaining outwardly subordinate to men—to advance her own power.
“Born on the Tennessee frontier in 1803, the wealthy, well-educated, religious Sarah Childress married James K. Polk, a fledgling politician, in 1824 and dedicated her life to promoting his career and the Democratic Party platform. She excelled at Washington’s ‘parlor politics,’ hosting dinners and parties to foster James’s prospects in Congress. Sarah managed the correspondence for his 1839 Tennessee gubernatorial campaign and his 1844 presidential run. As first lady, she supported westward expansion and the 1846 war with Mexico. Widowed, she ran the family’s plantation, remaining an unrepentant slaveowner through the Civil War.
“Sarah Polk comes alive in these pages, with Greenberg expertly illuminating the intersections of the public and private, providing readers a refreshing new way to look at 19th-century American political and social history.”
–PUBLISHERS WEEKLY, a starred review
“A fascinating and largely unknown story. This well-researched account aims to correct the historial record and refute misinterpretations of her life.” —Marie Mullaney, LIBRARY JOURNAL
“An illuminating study of a nontraditional female powerhouse.” —KIRKUS REVIEWS
“An in-depth, telling account of a largely overlooked woman who was able to effect profound influence while working within the constraints of her time and place.”
—Kathleen McBroom, BOOKLIST
Knopf. With 24 pages of photos.
369 pages. $30 ISBN 978-10-385-35413-4
To interview the author, contact:
Jess Purcell | 212-572-2082 | email@example.com