From our youngest years, we’re taught the Pilgrim’s story and about various harvest festivals held throughout history to show our thanks for God’s provision. These celebrations took an official, national turn in 1789 when George Washington was urged to proclaim a day of thanksgiving for the successful end to the American Revolution. This celebration continued in some form and length until the early 1800s. Then it became a scattered event with states and cities setting aside their own holidays.
But along came Sarah Josepha Hale, writer (remember “Mary Had a Little Lamb?”) and editor of Godey’s Lady’s Book. Though she wasn’t a suffragist or what we might call a feminist, she was an influential woman in a time when men were considered the leaders outside the home.
Sarah advocated for years for a formal, national day of Thanksgiving. Beginning in the latter 1820s, she wrote editorials and letters to politicians urging them to make one day standard for the whole country.
Finally, in 1863, President Lincoln signed a proclamation that set aside the last Thursday of November as a time of praise to God for all He’s given us. After almost forty years, Sarah Hale was successful in her letter-writing campaign. Part of that proclamation is below:
“I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.”
From the proclamation written by William Seward and signed by President Abraham Lincoln.
And what is the writer takeaway from this history lesson? Perseverance and Hope. Never give up and never believe that your words can’t affect someone else’s life. Had Sarah Hale stopped writing her letters after the first year or two, tomorrow might be just another work day.
Remember, it only takes the right person to read your words to create an eternal impact.
Will you share an experience when you learned that something you wrote impacted another person's life?
A Reluctant Melody releases January 2016.