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Meet Sarah Josepha Hale: Writer, "Editress," and "Godmother of Thanksgiving"

Meet Sarah Josepha Hale: Writer, "Editress," and "Godmother of Thanksgiving"

Though Sarah Josepha Hale is widely known for her work as a "renowned 19th-century writer and editor who pushed for girls' education reform," she has since been remembered for another American feat: her role as the "Godmother of Thanksgiving."

Having penned "Mary Had a Little Lamb" and acted as the 'editress' of "Godey's Lady's Book" for several decades, Hale's life was saturated with incredible successes, ones that will forever be etched into our nation's history.

With those successes also came incredible passion and interest in American life, something for which, as magazine editress, Hale was able to directly tackle. Unlike many publications at the time, she chose to publish the works of those writing on "American themes."

In other words, pieces by the eminent Harriet Beecher Stowe, Edgar Allen Poe, and many others.


Because of her love for the everyday aspects of American life, "Thanksgiving Day, a homegrown holiday, fit into Hale's mission of focusing on Americana." And, according to The Wall Street Journal, she began to "consolidate popular support for a national Thanksgiving by publishing editorials making the case for the holiday... and recipes for traditional Thanksgiving dishes."

At the same time, Hale's campaign to reach the government was ceaseless. She wrote letters to politicians at all levels in the hopes of receiving support for her mission to have a national holiday to unite the American people.

Eventually, after 15 years of attempted persuasion, President Abraham Lincoln responded to Hale's letter request, leading to his Thanksgiving Proclamation on October 3, 1863, in which he dedicated every last Thursday of November as a day of Thanksgiving.

NEXT: MAKERS Giving Thanks: Why Are You Thankful? »

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Photo Credit: AP Photo/Jim Cole, Getty Images