Happy Thanksgiving!

Hope everyone is having a fine day feasting with family and friends. Let’s take a moment to remember that it was  Abe Lincoln who proclaimed Thanksgiving to be a national holiday in 1863.

The idea, however, came from a tireless agitator named Sarah Josepha Hale, whose other accomplishments included writing the children’s poem “Mary Had A Little Lamb” and founding the first national women’s magazine.

… a rift had been growing steadily since 1776 between the North and South over issues such as slavery, and she said Hale wanted “continuity” for Thanksgiving as a way to help close that rift.

“Sarah was thinking of a desire for a strong country, a brotherhood of the North and South, patriotism, a family reunion and a big meal,” said Wood.

Hale wrote letters, and encouraged her readers to write letters, to state governors, politicians and every president from Zachary Taylor to Lincoln, according to Wood. The rift came to a head due to the Civil War, at which point Wood said Lincoln signed the proclamation stating the final Thursday in November was to be considered a national day of thanksgiving as a way to reunite the country.

“We need to credit Lincoln for seeing the possibility of perhaps a national holiday and focusing on togetherness instead of war,” she said.

Wood said she wasn’t sure if the Civil War was the catalyst for Thanksgiving finally becoming a recognized holiday almost 40 years after Hale’s first push, although she said individuals previously opposed to the idea commonly cited a desire to maintain a state’s right to decide if and when a festivity would occur rather than a federal government that mandated the holiday.


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