Whom can we thank for Thanksgiving?
I'm up to my eyeballs in holiday prep right now, so the posts may be slow in coming till after Thanksgiving. My sister and her husband are hosting this year. I've been drafted to bake 2 pies and come up with a centerpiece. It's cool though, I love this stuff. Really. I do.
But until things calm down a bit, I thought I'd leave you with a few thoughts about the person responsible for Thanksgiving being declared a National Holiday in the United States. Until 1863 Thanksgiving was a holiday celebrated differently throughout the country often on dates varying from the end of October through the end of November. But there was one individual who spearheaded a campaign to unify the Thanksgiving holiday and bring the entire country together on the same day for the biggest family dinner of the year. Not surprisingly that person was a woman. A mother. A single, widowed mother in fact. Her name was Sarah Josepha Hale.
Sarah Hale found herself widowed at the age of 34 with no visible means of income to support her four young children. She began to write and sold a novel called Northwood at the age of 39 in which Thanksgiving was a theme. She was then approached by a British publisher to start and edit the first ladies' magazine in the United States. She accepted the post and became the first female magazine editor in the country. The magazine covered everything from recipes and sewing tips to architecture and politics. With her magazine Hale now had a platform in which to advocate the celebration of Thanksgiving as a National Holiday as early as 1827.
Her efforts picked up steam with the country's growing tension over slavery during the 1850s. Ms. Hale felt it critical during those tumultuous years before the Civil War for the entire country to put their differences aside for one day, break bread and give thanks together. She wrote letters every year to every governor of every state urging them to celebrate Thanksgiving on the 4th Thursday of November. Her campaign gained such momentum that it eventually reached the ears of President Abraham Lincoln himself who in 1863 made his now famous Thanksgiving Proclamation.
Click here for more information about Sarah Josepha Hale. You'll find that Thanksgiving's status as a national holiday is just one of the many accomplishments by this remarkable woman.