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Do you enjoy Thanksgiving? Can you say the nursery rhyme “Mary Had a Little Lamb?” What do they both have in common? Sarah Hale.
Sarah was born Sarah Buell on October 24, 1788, in Newport, New Hampshire. Sarah was schooled at home. Her brother went to Dartmouth, but he shared his books with her. Sarah began teaching school in her hometown when she was 18.
In 1813, she married David Hale. The two of them formed a literary group. This group would meet to discuss books and articles from newspapers and magazines. Sarah and David had five children (three sons and two daughters). In 1822, after David died, Sarah started writing to support herself and her children.
Sarah wrote the book Northwood, a Tale of New England in 1827. The book sold very well. Sarah was asked to become an editor for the Ladies Magazine and Literary Gazette in Boston. This magazine contained essays, fiction stories and fashion plates (pictures of women’s fashion). Sarah agreed and moved her family to Boston.
In 1826, Louis Godey asked Sarah to become the editor of his magazine, Godey’s Lady’s Book in Philadelphia. This well-known magazine published stories by famous authors like Washington Irving, Edgar Allan Poe, and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. It also included articles about health and beauty, cooking, gardening, and house plans that could be copied by builders.
She wrote a book called Poems for Our Children, in which "Mary Had a Little Lamb" first appeared. She also helped to raise funds to erect a monument at Bunker Hill and to save Mount Vernon, George Washington’s home.
In the 1800s, Thanksgiving was celebrated on different days throughout the 30 states and U.S territories. Sarah Hale believed that every state should celebrate Thanksgiving on the same day. In 1837, she began her quest to make Thanksgiving a national holiday. She wrote editorials in magazines and newspapers.
For 26 years she promoted her cause, even writing letters to every sitting President asking him to make Thanksgiving a fixed national holiday. But President Millard Fillmore, President Franklin Pierce and President James Buchanan all said "no."
On September 28, 1863, Sarah wrote to President Abraham Lincoln, and he said yes! On October 3, 1863, President Lincoln issued a proclamation to Americans, to celebrate Thanksgiving on the last Thursday in November.
Sarah was editor at Godey’s until she retired in 1877, at the age of 89. On April 30, 1879, Sarah Hale died at the age of 90. She is buried in the Laurel Hill Cemetery in Philadelphia.
When you get together with your family for Thanksgiving, remember to thank Sarah Hale.
Julie Straub, "Thanksgiving and Mary Had a Little Lamb", Awesome Stories, November 6, 2015; updated November 25, 2015.
Carole D. Bos, "Thanksgiving Becomes a National Holiday", Awesome Stories, November 27, 2014, updated November 17, 2015.
If you guessed "Plymouth Colonists," you might be surprised. These celebrations predate the Plymouth colonists and their feast of gratitude in 1621 --
In May 1541, Spanish explorer Francisco Vasquez de Coronado and 1,500 men celebrated at the Palo Dur Canyon -- located in the modern-day Texas Panhandle -- after their expedition from Mexico City in search of gold. In 1959 the Texas Society Daughters of the American Colonists commemorated the event as the "first Thanksgiving."
Another "first Thanksgiving" occurred on June 30, 1564, when French Huguenot colonists celebrated in a settlement near Jacksonville, Florida. This "first Thanksgiving," was later commemorated at the Fort Carolina Memorial on the St. Johns River in eastern Jacksonville.
The harsh winter of 1609-1610 generated a famine that caused the deaths of 430 of the 490 settlers. In the spring of 1610, colonists in Jamestown, Virginia, enjoyed a Thanksgiving service after English supply ships arrived with food. This colonial celebration has also been considered the "first Thanksgiving." (Source: Library of Congress -- Wise Guide)
First Thanksgiving in Massachusetts
"In 1620, the area from Narragansett Bay in eastern Rhode Island to the Atlantic Ocean in southeastern Massachusetts, including Cape Cod, Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket, was the home of a village people who called themselves the Pokanoket ..."
The "First Thanksgiving" celebrated by the Plymouth Colonists was based on customs that the immigrants brought with them. The Indian contribution to the event was the menu. Roast wild duck, goose and turkey, venison made into pies with corn meal crusts, were Indian food. The robust ale, made from their one successful English crop of barley was the main non-native food. The three day feast symbolizes a rarely achieved relationship of peaceful coexistence between Indians and Europeans in the 17th century. (Source: National Museum of American Indians -- Harvest Ceremony: Study Guide)
For more information, visit You Are the Historian: Investigating the First Thanksgiving sponsored by the Plimoth Plantation Museum : Learn about being a historian by investigating the cultures of the Wampanoag Indians and the pilgrim colonists at the first Thanksgiving feast. (Flash is required.)
Remember the first Thanksgiving? American school kids are taught the story of how, in 1621, the Indian called Squanto helped the Pilgrim settlers in Plymouth survive by teaching them Native skills, such as the best method for growing corn. Thus was born the great autumn feast of thanks. But recent scholarly research is overturning the conventional understanding of Indians' relations with the settlers. In an excerpt from his new book, 1491, Charles C. Mann surveys this emerging view, which suggests that the Native Americans were far more sophisticated than previously believed-and yet at the mercy of forces that abetted the settlers' ambitions.
For the full article, see Charles C. Mann, "Squanto and the Pilgrims: Native Intelligence", Smithsonian Magazine, December 2005.
It is hard to grow up in Michigan and not have at least seen or heard the Detroit Lions playing on Thanksgiving afternoon. Detroit has played in every Thanksgiving game since 1934. Like turkey, it’s a tradition. But why Detroit?
For the full article, see Mark Harvey, "Gobblers and The Gridiron", Archives of Michigan, November 23, 2010.
Doug Warren, "Lions, Bears, and the First Thanksgiving", THE COFFIN CORNER: Vol. 25, No. 6 (2003). Reposted in the Drive by Jack Ebling, November 27, 2014.
What's Thanksgiving without a football game? Football games played on Thanksgiving Day date back to 1876, when Yale and Princeton began an annual tradition of playing each other. The University of Michigan also made it a tradition to play annual Thanksgiving games, participating in 19 such games from 1885 to 1905. The Thanksgiving Day games between Michigan and Amos Alonzo Stagg's University of Chicago Maroons in the 1890s have been cited as the true beginning of Thanksgiving Day football.
Before the final game of the 1898 season, Chicago was 9-1-1 and Michigan was 9-0; a game between the two teams in the Windy City decided the third Western Conference championship on Thanksgiving Day 114 years ago. Michigan won, 12-11, on November 24, 1898, capturing the program's first conference championship in a game that inspired student Louis Elbel to compose Michigan's fight song, "The Victors."
Hail, hail to Thanksgiving Day.
Source : Bill Loomis, "Thanksgiving at great-great-Grandma's house", Detroit News, November 18, 2012
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