Many attribute our national holiday of Thanksgiving to President Abraham Lincoln. He did sign the law designating the last Thursday in the month of November as a national holiday of Thanksgiving on October 3, 1863.
While Steward wrote the law and Lincoln signed it, the holiday might not have been written into national law if not for a woman writer.
She was the Mother of Thanksgiving. Her name was Sarah Josepha Hale. It is not clear as to how much influence a letter she had written to President Lincoln influenced his decision, but shortly thereafter, the national holiday was declared.
In a day of women staying only to the home, she was an advocate of education for women, including the creation of Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, New York.
She was instrumental in the construction of a monument to the Battle of Bunker Hill and saving George Washington’s estate, Mount Vernon, for posterity.
Editor of the popular Godey’s Lady Book and the author of “Mary’s Lamb”, (as in “Mary had a little lamb”, etc. poem), Hale had grown up celebrating a yearly Thanksgiving celebration, as did many in different parts of the country. At the time, it was celebrated at different times in different states.
Though it was not an original idea, as many Presidents had set aside days of Thanksgiving for various events, Ms. Hale lobbied to make it a specific national holiday. She believed that a day set aside purely for thanksgiving would help unite a nation torn apart by a bloody civil war.
As we set down to table this Thursday with family and friends, let us remember the efforts of those who made this day possible in one of the most divisive eras of our history.
Thanksgiving is a uniquely American holiday that we should be very proud to observe.
More importantly, let us give real and heartfelt thanks for our many blessings.
In the United States, we are truly blessed. We live in relative safety from violence. We are well fed, we are warm and housed for the most part. We still have our freedoms.
Freedoms that need a continuous vigil and active fight to maintain, yet we still have the right to make our voices heard without fear of reprisal.
The most important right we have is to worship God. Not false gods, but the Holy Trinity, The Father, The Son and The Holy Ghost.
Let us truly be thankful for all these many blessings and celebrate with love and togetherness as we begin the joyful holiday season.