What Sarah Hale Did for You

In 1621, famous pilgrim William Bradford proclaimed a day of feasting to commemorate the first harvest after a long year of suffering. That became America's first Thanksgiving Day. But as the colonies grew prosperous, the people forgot all about Thanksgiving and the meaning it held for their ancestors. The holiday was revived for a time under George Washington, but general interested in it dropped steadily. Finally, it was observed in only a few communities and that was sporadic because there was no set date.

Then, a determined woman named Sara Hale appeared on the scene. She was a young widow from New Hampshire. In 1822, she found herself with five children to support. She turned to literature and became the editor of a woman's magazine. Like most editors, Sarah was a crusader. It was her belief that the government should make Thanksgiving a national holiday. She pounded away at her idea for years. Three presidents turned her down. But the fourth finally agreed with her. In 1863, Abraham Lincoln proclaimed the last Thursday of every November as our national day of Thanksgiving.

Now, you probably never knew that Sarah Hale did that for you. Her fame rests more on the ditty she wrote in 1830. We’ll never forget her for that simple poem that begins, “Mary had a little lamb…”