History BiteUncategorized

Thanks to Sarah Hale, we have Thanksgiving

Sarah Buell Hale loved the ritual of Thanksgiving.  Mrs. Hale was a writer publishing a novel in 1827 which described in great detail the physical and sentimental manifestation of a family feast.  She describes a table draped in bleached white damask preparing the household event where every child had a seat for the occasion.  She describes the honor of a man to sit at the head of a copious Thanksgiving dinner before his large family;  the farmer being particularly proud of the display of abundance and prosperity of a season’s worth of work.  She describes the roasted turkey taking its “lordly station” next to the savory stuffing exuding a particularly rich odor of basting.   She describes choice fowl pastries, wine tumblers, huge plum puddings, custards and pies of “every name and description ever known in Yankee land.”  She revered this celebration and went on a determined pursuit to declare it a national holiday.

  Sarah spent many years attempting to draw attention to her crusade.  By 1847 she had convinced the Governor of New Hampshire to appoint Thursday November 25th as a day of annual Thanksgiving in the state but she didn’t stop there.  She continued with her editorials and letters until finally she was able to attract the attention of President Abraham Lincoln.  

    Sarah composed a letter to President Lincoln resonating that sentiments cited here below from an editorial.  

“Would it not be of great advantage, socially, nationally, religiously, to
have the DAY of our American Thanksgiving positively settled? Putting
aside the sectional feelings and local incidents that might be urged by
any single State or isolated Territory that desired to choose its own time,
would it not be more noble, more truly American, to become nationally in
unity when we offer to God our tribute of joy and gratitude for the
blessings of the year?
Taking this view of the case, would it not be better
that the proclamation which appoints Thursday the 26th of November (1863) as the day of Thanksgiving for the people of the United States of America should, in
the first instance, emanate from the President of the Republic to be applied by the Governors of each and every State, in acquiescence with the chief executive adviser?”
    She successfully persuaded the President, who in 1863, issued a proclamation urging all Americans to observe the last Thursday in November as a day of Thanksgiving and so lives the tradition.
   “It is considered as an appropriate tribute of gratitude to God to set apart one day of Thanksgiving in each year.”
    And indeed, it is. Thank you, Sarah Hale!