The Queen of My Self

In addition to all her other contributions to society, Sarah Hale was responsible for making Thanksgiving a national holiday, an effort that she began in 1827.

We have too few holidays. Thanksgiving like the Fourth of July should be considered a national festival and observed by all our people. There is a deep moral influence in these periodical seasons of rejoicing, in which whole communities participate. They bring out . . . the best sympathies in our natures.

Hale felt that the spiritual dimension of Thanksgiving could help to prevent the insanity of civil war in America. As the hostilities heated up between North and South and the prospect of war became more immediate she bombarded both national and state officials with requests for the national holiday.

Sarah Hale doggedly wrote thousands of these letters in her own hand over a period of 36 years to five presidents: Zachary Taylor, Millard Filmore, Franklin Pierce, James Buchanan and Abraham Lincoln. “If every state would join in Union Thanksgiving on the 24th of this month, would it not be a renewed pledge of love and loyalty to the Constitution of the United States?” Hale wrote in an 1859 editorial.

She finally found a sympathetic ear in Lincoln. In 1863 as the Civil War ravished the land President Lincoln issued his now famous Thanksgiving Proclamation in which he honored America’s blessings, even in its darkest hour.

And so it came to pass that Americans celebrate Thanksgiving together on the fourth Thursday of November each year, thanks to Queen Sarah Josepha Hale.

Grace isn’t a little prayer you chant before receiving a meal. It’s a way to live.
–Jackie Windspear

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Donna Henes is the author of The Queen of My Self: Stepping into Sovereignty in Midlife. She offers counseling and upbeat, practical and ceremonial guidance for individual women and groups who want to enjoy the fruits of an enriching, influential, purposeful, passionate, and powerful maturity. Consult the MIDLIFE MIDWIFE™

The Queen welcomes questions concerning all issues of interest to women in their mature years. Send your inquiries to


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