In the midst of the Civil War, it was in 1863, that New Hampshire’s own Sarah Josepha (Buell) Hale, wife of New Hampshire Lawyer David Hale, who urged President Abraham Lincoln in a series of editorials to consider “Thanksgiving” to be celebration anew for the whole Nation. Accordingly, President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national Thanksgiving Day, to be celebrated on the final Thursday in November 1863.
Sarah was largely credited with the proclamation. She was born in Newport, NH, and is famous for the nursery ryme “Mary Had a Little Lamb”. Women of the time were not allowed a college education but Sarah was undaunted and was self taught by her family and husband. Yes, we have come far since then. Women like Sarah showed great leadership even without a college education which her brother (Dartmouth College) openly shared upon completion of each course taken.
Undaunted in her writing skills and supported by her husband, she wrote a book titled, “Northwood: Life North and South” on New England virtues as the model for prosperity and Christian Philanthropy in sharp contrast to the evil of Slavery. She went on to become editor of Boston’s “Ladies Magazine” and a founder of “The Seaman’s Aid Society” in 1833 where seamen were often lost at sea. It has been said by some encylopedic’s that “she did not support “women’s suffrage” but instead in the “Secret, silent influence of women” to sway men voters”. As a New Hamshireite, and cousin by marriage, I would celebrate her forthrightness in a time of national distress to speak out. Thank you Sarah!