Sunday, November 18, 2012

Thanksgiving Holiday...Thank You Sarah Josepha Hale

When you feel certain of your convictions to accomplish some things and the phrase persistence pays reminds you that you "need to" press on. It doesn't matter what you working on just that you keep working on it  until you've achieved the goal you've set for yourself. Take a look at one woman who did just that with the Thanksgiving Holiday the very one we are celebrating this week.

Meet Sarah Josepha Hale (October 24, 1788 - April 30, 1879) she was an American writer and an influential editor. She is the author of the nursery rhyme "Mary Had a Little Lamb" (published 1830) written for children she was a mother of five and a widow right after her fifth child was born. She famously campaigned for the creation of the American holiday known to us as Thanksgiving and for the completion of the Bunker Hill monument in Boston.

In 1823, Sarah Hale published a collection of her poems titled The Genius of Oblivion. Novel Northwood: Life North and South and in London under the title A New England Tale, made her one of the first of either gender to write a book about slavery. The book, which espoused New England virtues as the model to follow national prosperity, was immediately successful.

In 1852, with the second edition, Hale wrote; "The great error of these who would server the Union rather than see a slave within its borders, is, that they forget the master is their brother, as well as the servant; and that the spirit which seeks to do good to all evil to none is the only true Christian philanthropy". The premise of her book was that slavery hurts and dehumanizes the masters and retards  the psychological, moral and technological progress of their world.

Hale is credited as the individual most responsible for making Thanksgiving a national holiday in the United States: it had previously been celebrated only in New England. Each state scheduled its own holiday, some as early as October and as late as January: it was largely unknown in the American South.
Her advocacy for the national holiday began in 1846 lasted 17 years before it was successful. In support of the proposed national holiday, she wrote letters to five Presidents of the United States:
~ Zachary Taylor
~ Millard Fillmore
~ Franklin Pierce 
~ James Buchanan
~ Abraham Lincoln

Hale's initial letter failed to persuade, but the letter she wrote to Lincoln did convince him to support legislation establishing a national holiday of Thanksgiving in 1863. 

The new national holiday was considered as a day to unify after the stress of the American Civil War. Prior to the addition of Thanksgiving, the only national holidays celebrated in the United States were Washington's Birthday and Independence Day. Hale raised the 30,000 in Boston for the completion of the Bunker Hill Monument. 

When construction stalled, Hale asked her readers to donate a dollar each and also organized a week-long craft fair at Quincy Market. The fair sold handmade jewelry, quilts, baskets, jams, jellies, cakes, pies and autographed letters from Washington, James Madison and the Marquis de Lafayette. 

She "made sure the 221- foot obelisk that commemorates the battle of Bunker Hill got build."  In 1837, Sarah began working as editor of the expanded Godey's Lady's Book, she remained editor at Godey's for forty years, retiring in 1877 when she was almost 90.  Sarah wrote many novels and poems, publishing nearly fifty volumes by the end of her life.  She became one of the most influential arbiters of American taste. 

The magazine is credited with an ability to influence fashions not only for women's clothes, but also domestic architecture. Godey's published house plans that were copied by home builders nationwide. She was a successful editor respected as an arbiter for taste for middle-class women in matters of fashion, cooking, literature, and mortality. Sarah was reinforcing stereotypical gender roles, domestic roles for women.  She believed woman shaped the morals of society, and pushed for women to write morally uplifting novels.

When she retired the same year Thomas Edison spoke the opening lines of "Mary's Lamb" as the first speech ever recorded on his newly invented phonograph. 

Sarah Josepha Hale was a persistent women, visionary, avocate for education and a positive person who used her editorial skills to bring awareness to many. I bet she would have had a great blog site and a great many followers too don't give up in what you believe in and press on you have so much to be thankful for. 

I'm thankful that you stop by and read posts, leave comments, and email with design questions and blogpost suggestions.

Thank You Sarah Josepha Hale! 

 Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

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