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NH Woman Responsible For Thanksgiving Becoming A National Holiday
by Mary Emma Allen
Even though we think of the first Thanksgiving as taking place in Plymouth Colony, this celebration didn't become an official holiday until many years later. A woman from the state of New Hampshire was responsible for this recognition.

Mrs. Sarah Josepha Hale, the editor of "Godey's Lady's Book," decided that Thanksgiving should become a national holiday. She initiated a campaign to have a day in late fall set aside for us to give thanks for our harvests and many blessings.

From 1846 to 1863, she wrote letters to presidents, governors, and any influential people she could think of. Many editorials appeared in her magazine, urging the recognition of this celebration as a holiday.

Lincoln Listens to Her
The man who finally listened to Mrs. Hale was President Abraham Lincoln. He decided that a day of thanksgiving in autumn also might help create harmony in the nation midst the Civil War.

So in 1863, he declared that Thanksgiving Day would be the last Thursday in November. At Mrs. Hale's insistence, he set that day as Thanksgiving the following year. This holiday has been celebrated ever since.

Congress Officially Sets Holiday
In 1941, Congress passed a resolution which changed Thanksgiving from the last Thursday in November to the fourth Thursday of that month. Since then, the fourth Thursday, which sometimes is the last one, has officially been Thanksgiving.

Our thanks goes to Sarah Josepha Hale for her determination to have this designated an official holiday.

(c)2000 Mary Emma Allen

Mary Emma Allen, who lives in New Hampshire, often researches and writes about historical topics. She's also a children's author. Visit her web site: http://homepage.fcgnetworks.net/jetent/mea
mailto:me.allen@juno.com

 

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