Old Glory 1863
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Sarah Josepha Hale, author of the famous nursery rhyme “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” was a prolific American writer and editor of the nineteenth century. She was the first person to advocate women as public school teachers and physical training for women.1 Her other contributions included raising funds to complete the Bunker Hill Monument and convincing President Lincoln to establish Thanksgiving as a national holiday.

Her letters campaigning a “day of national thanks” she had written to the four Presidents before Abraham Lincoln had all been ignored. On September 28, 1863, Hale wrote to President Lincoln and urged him to have the “day of our annual Thanksgiving made a National and fixed Union Festival.”2 Lincoln responded affirmatively and on October 3, 1863, he issued a proclamation calling for the observance of the fourth Tuesday of November as a national holiday.

Prior to the Civil War, Northern states (including New England) would schedule their own Thanksgiving holiday at different times. Americans can be grateful to both Sarah J. Hale for her persistance and Abraham Lincoln for establishing the national holiday of Thanksgiving.

“Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.”
1 Chronicles 16:34 (New International Version)