Thursday, November 22, 2007

What a vision, Sarah Hale! by DL Larson

Long ago, before the Civil War, Thanksgiving was celebrated by only a few, mostly New Englanders. The rest of the country pretty much ignored giving thanks after the harvest season. And Sarah Hale, the first female magazine editor in America, thought a time for giving thanks should be a national holiday. Not many agreed with her.

But Sarah Hale was one of those types who didn't give up easily. She picked up her quill and wrote, and wrote, and wrote. She wrote articles in her magazine about all of America celebrating in unison, encouraging her readers to join her cause. She penned letters to those in command, using her gift of writing to express her vision of a national holiday at harvest's end.

Her request was answered by many ordinary women. They wrote letters too, asking their congressmen to see to making a holiday in November. One, by one, states proclaimed a time for thanksgiving. But Sarah wanted more. She had a vision, a national holiday, a time for all Americans to pause and give thanks.

So Sarah wrote to the president of the day, Zachary Taylor. He couldn't be bothered with such a trivial idea. But Sarah didn't give up; when the next election made Millard Fillmore President, she asked him to set a national holiday in November. He refused her as well.

Time slipped by, Sarah raised her kids, worked at her magazine, wrote poetry and published biographies. She had other causes too ~ playgrounds for children! school for girls, and monuments for historical figures. But all the while, she continued on with her crusade of a harvest celebration.

When Franklin Pierce took office, Sarah penned a letter to him, asking for a national holiday to give thanks for a bountiful harvest. Pierce said no. Another election came ... James Buchanan. Wouldn't everyone be better for a time of rest on the fourth Thursday each November? Ol' Jim didn't think it was any big deal to fuss over, let alone agree.

Then the war came, the one between the North and the South. Sarah knew a time of thanksgiving wasn't the answer to the end of the conflict, but perhaps it could be a way to heal some of the wrongs done. So once again, with pen to paper she addressed her request to yet another president. And then waited for a reply.

She waited a long time, hoping, praying that the time might be right at last. In 1863, a very unpopular President Lincoln declared Thanksgiving a national holiday.
Many thought it was too soon to attempt unity, the war was still in a fury. But Sarah wasn't the only one with a great vision ...

On this 144th Thanksgiving in America, as a writer remember that one person's ideas can make a difference! Every word you write has the potential to be a great impact on folks! That's powerful stuff. (no pun intended)

Enjoy your day! And when you're all gathered around the table giving thanks, add Sarah and Abe to your list of blessings.

Til next time ~

DL Larson

No comments: