"After four years [at the Divinity School], with a view to add to my pecuniary means, which proved unequal to the wants of an increased family, I became editor of the North American Review."
--A Letter to a Friend, 1850.
At various points in his life, Palfrey turned to editing as an additional source of income. While at Brattle Street, he became editor (1824-25) of the Christian Disciple, which he renamed the Christian Examiner. He is, however, best remembered as editor (1835-43) of the North American Review.
He had become a financial partner of the Review in 1817. In 1835, he bought the review from Edward and Alexander Everett. By 1839, he found it difficult to both teach and edit, and he proposed to reduce his Harvard appointment to part-time. The Corporation would not accept this offer, and he resigned in April 1839. His courses would be taken over by George Rapall Noyes, but no one would be appointed Dean until 1870.
While his early years with the Review were financially rewarding, beginning with the Panic of 1837 (the first real depression in the US), the Review became a financial liability. In Dec. 1842 he sold it to Francis Bowen.