The first words Thomas Edison recorded on his new invention, the phonograph, was the poem, “Mary Had a Little Lamb.” That poem was written by Sarah Josepha Hale. The official Thanksgiving Holiday that America is celebrating tomorrow should also give thanks to Sarah. Sarah was a strange but remarkable woman. She was our first American woman novelist and the first American of either gender to write a book about slavery. Yet, she certainly was not a feminist. She believed the woman’s place was in the home and she opposed woman’s right to vote. She believed in “the secret, silent influence of women” to sway men’s votes. Sarah was a prolific writer, publishing over 50 volumes of writings and poetry.
Sarah Hale also became an editor of “Lady’s Book” which became American Ladies Magazine. In her time, the mid-19th century, she was a combination Martha Stewart/Coco Chanel/Oprah/Ann Landers. She influenced clothing, furniture, manners, morals and even architecture.
But influencing Abraham Lincoln was one of her proudest accomplishments. In 1846, when she was 58 years old, she thought we should have a national day of Thanksgiving. In 1846 Thanksgiving was a mess. New England states had celebrated their own day for many years. Many other states had their own day, some as early as October and some as late as January. Nowhere in the south could they even spell Thanksgiving.
Sarah Hale wrote to President Zachary Taylor and pointed out the only National Holidays we celebrated were Independence Day and Washington’s Birthday. Zach didn’t bite.
She wrote to President Millard Fillmore, but he was too busy trying to keep the dying Whig Party alive.
She wrote to President Franklin Pierce, but he was too busy trying to be the worst President in USA history.
She wrote to President James Buchanan, but he was too busy beating out Franklin Pierce for worst President.
At the age of 75, Sarah wrote to Abraham Lincoln and he thought what a great idea. We needed a come-together day to begin healing the civil war rifts. In 1863 Thanksgiving became a National Holiday.
Mary had a little lamb and we got Thanksgiving
its fleece was white as snow and I’m grateful for living.
Everywhere that Mary went and a room full of football males
The lamb was sure to go and all the ladies at Black Friday sales