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2001 - Then-Assemblyman George Runner introduces legislation to memorialize the historic Ridge Route. Enacted Oct. 4. [story]


Take a Hke | Commentary by Dianne Erskine-Hellrigel
| Sunday, Nov 30, 2014

DianneErskineHellrigelI hope you had a fabulous Thanksgiving feast. Mine was spent with family, and the food was never-ending.

Reflecting upon the history of the American Thanksgiving, I thought you might like to know where the idea came from. Many people will say the Native Americans and colonists wanted to celebrate their harvest together. Right? Not quite.

There was a stubborn woman named Sarah Hale (1788-1879) who was a writer of children’s books and poems. She was also the editor of Godey’s Lady’s Book, which was a magazine prior to the Civil War. Mrs. Hale is still well known for her poem, “Mary Had a Little Lamb.”

She was an influential woman for her time. She and her husband, attorney David Hale, formed a literary club, and this is when she began writing. In 1922, when her husband died, she continued to write to support herself. She began with poems, moved on to novels, and then to American Ladies Magazine and the Literary Gazette before becoming editor of the Godey’s Lady’s Book. Hale was a prolific writer and published nearly 50 volumes in her lifetime.

sarahhale2Despite the belief at the time that women belonged in the home, Hale advocated that women should become educated first, before deciding to stay at home with children. She advocated the then-radical idea that men and women should be equally educated, and that women should be in professions such as teaching and medicine. She also supported seeing women in charities, in overseas missionary work, and she supported women’s economic independence.

Sarah dreamed of creating a national holiday that would bring Americans together and unify them. She had this dream for 35 years. Holiday or harvest feasts were celebrated in several states, but all on different days with different customs. She wanted to make Thanksgiving a holiday to be celebrated on the same day in all states, and have it observed in the same way by all. She felt this would unify the country and help people to count their blessings. She turned out to be a great lobbyist, seeing the support of governors, reaching out to businesses, writing multiple editorials, and even writing to President Lincoln.

President Lincoln thought it was a great idea, and in 1863 he supported legislation to establish Thanksgiving as a national holiday. Lincoln proclaimed the holiday on Oct. 3, 1863. Hale’s quest was finally over, and Thanksgiving became a national day of thanks.

You can still find children’s books about Sarah Hale. It’s a great way to teach history to your kids and grandkids. Among the available books you will find “Sarah Gives Thanks” and “Thank you, Sarah: The Woman Who Saved Thanksgiving.”

 

sarahhaleSarah Josepha Hale

AKA Sarah Josepha Buell

Born: 24-Oct-1788

Birthplace: Newport, NH

Died: 30-Apr-1879

Location of death: Philadelphia, PA

Cause of death: unspecified

Remains: Buried, Laurel Hill Cemetery, Philadelphia, PA

Gender: Female

Race or Ethnicity: White

Sexual orientation: Straight

Occupation: Author

Nationality: United States

Executive summary: Editor, Godey’s Lady’s Book

Responsible for the establishment of Thanksgiving as a holiday, and also author of the nursery rhyme, Mary had a Little Lamb. As editor of Godey’s Lady’s Book she turned the magazine into one of the highest circulation women’s magazines in America during the 19th century, with 150,000 subscribers.

Father: Gordon Buell

Mother: Martha Whittlesay Buell

Husband: David Hale (m. 1813, d. 1822)

Godey’s Lady’s Book Editor (1837-77)

Author of books:

The Genius of Oblivion (1823, poetry)

Northwood, a Tale of New England (1827, novel)

Poems for Our Children (1830, poetry)

Woman’s Record; or, Sketches of Distinguished Women (1853, biography)

 

 

 

Dianne Erskine-Hellrigel is executive director of the Community Hiking Club and president of the Santa Clara River Watershed Conservancy. If you’d like to be part of the solution, join the Community Hiking Club’s Stewardship Committee. Contact Dianne through communityhikingclub.org or at zuliebear@aol.com.

 

 

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