It took 40 years of diligent effort by Sarah Josepha Hale for Thanksgiving to become a national holiday. To the leadership and strong beliefs of Sarah Hale, we share our gratitude.
Sarah Hale’s story is one of challenge and inspiration. Her husband passed away in 1822, leaving her with five children and little money to make ends meet. She went to work writing poems, and there is one most of us will remember: “Mary Had a Little Lamb.”
Sarah Hale also became a magazine editor, serving for many years at Godey’s Lady’s Book and publishing the works of such greats as Longfellow and Edgar Allan Poe.
For 40 years, Sarah Hale wrote letters to the editor as well as letters to many U.S. Presidents. It was President Abraham Lincoln who finally made Thanksgiving a national holiday with his Proclamation of 1863.
Sarah Hale saw Thanksgiving as a spiritual connection and as a way to bring people together. Both were salient points, especially as the country was being torn apart during the Civil War.
“There is a deep moral influence in these periodical seasons of rejoicing in which whole communities participate. They bring out …the best sympathies in our natures.”
President Lincoln concurred, and we are grateful for Sarah Hale and her persistence.
Lessons from Sarah
In Sarah Hale, we find several key lessons to consider this Thanksgiving:
- There are times we need to come together as a country and as a community, pausing to give thanks. There are higher callings for what we have and in what we do. We need to show our gratitude in what we say and do.
- When things look down and impossible, we need to remember our gifts and use them fully. We have the ability and power within to create.
- “Never give up” carries a new meaning. With clear mission and determined efforts, we can achieve not only a living but a purpose.
Sarah Hale was right. There is a spiritual connection to Thanksgiving, and we need to remember this story as we gather.
Be persistent in your purpose. Be thankful in your work. Rejoice in your community. Lead with gratitude!