Sarah Hale: “Godmother of Thanksgiving”

To the modern person it may seem odd that Thanksgiving as an American holiday hasn’t always been there… After all, didn’t the Pilgrims start it back at the very beginning?  Didn’t George Washington proclaim it?

The short answer is “yes” but it didn’t really ‘stick’ at first.  In the early days of the Republic, Thanksgiving was only observed each year in New England; it was more or less unknown in the South.  During those early years, however one New England woman campaigned for Thanksgiving as a national holiday… and she was Sarah Hale.

Sarah Josepha Hale (1788-1879)

Sarah Hale, 1788-1879Image via Wikipedia

Sarah was born October 24, 1788 in Newport, New Hampshire Sarah Josepha Buell.  She was educated at home, and was properly married to David Hale in 1813. The couple quickly had five children, and then David died suddenly in 1822 leaving Sarah widowed with five little kids and questionable prospects.  Sarah began to write and quickly became recognized as a talented author of poetry and novels.  She is the author of “Mary had a Little Lamb” by the way…

Cover of "Mary Had a Little Lamb"

Cover of Mary Had a Little Lamb

In a time when women were not supposed to work outside the home, Sarah became the editor of the nation’s first women’s magazine “Ladies Magazinee” in 1828, and in 1836 she became the editor of “Godey’s Ladies Book” which became huge in later years. It has been said that she was a combination of Martha Stewart and Oprah in her time…

While her career is quite a fascinating one, check the links at the bottom for more information, her role with Thanksgiving is our quest today…

September 1863 letter from editor Sarah Joseph...

Image via Wikipedia

She began her efforts to make Thanksgiving a national holiday in 1847, and over the next 17 years she contacted five presidents with her appeal.  She finally achieved success in 1863 when President Abraham Lincoln who issued his own Proclamation of Thanksgiving and supported legislation to add Thanksgiving to Washington’s Birthday and Independence Day as our Nation’s third holiday.

Abraham Lincoln, the sixteenth President of th...

Image via Wikipedia

Thank you, Sarah for helping our Nation to pause to give humble thanks to Almighty God for all of our blessing each year!

Sarah Hale worked on many other projects during her long life, including the Bunker Hill Monument, the preservation of Mount Vernon and the Quincy Market before her death in 1879 at the age of 90.

Please take a few moments to visit the links below to discover more about this amazing lady of long ago.

About Don Merritt

A long time teacher and writer, Don hopes to share his varied life's experiences in a different way with a Christian perspective.
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1 Response to Sarah Hale: “Godmother of Thanksgiving”

  1. Pingback: Thanks to Presidents Giving Us Turkey Day & Pictures of First Family Thanksgivings « Carl Anthony Online: Presidential Pop Culture, Mythic Americana, Holidays, Legends, Pie & Dogs

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