What do “Mary Had a Little Lamb” and our national Thanksgiving holiday have in common?
Answer – Sarah Josepha Hale
Who was she and what is the connection?
Well, Sarah was not only the author of one of the most famous children’s poems of all time – “Mary Had a Little Lamb” – she was also the most persistent advocate for a national day of Thanksgiving. She proposed the last day of November as a day for the nation to observe and acknowledge God as THE dispenser of blessings and to emphasize UNITY in our nation, which during her lifetime was becoming so divided.
How did her advocacy lead to a national Thanksgiving holiday?
She petitioned five presidents, governors and many others over a 17-year period that included the years leading up to and during the Civil War. Instead of abandoning the cause when divisions among the nation were at their greatest, she continued her pursuit and petitioned Abraham Lincoln about the matter in a letter dated September 28, 1863.
Five days after that date, President Abraham Lincoln’s Proclamation of Thanksgiving was issued on October 3, 1863 with the purpose to “set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next as a Day of Thanksgiving and Prayer to our beneficent Father, who dwelleth in the heavens…” and to “fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it, as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes, to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility, and union.”
How do you plan to make your Thanksgiving a day of gratitude to God, prayer and unity?
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