Sunday, November 29, 2009

Enjoy Thanksgiving? Remember a Journalist

A journalist is partly responsible for Thanksgiving.

Today’s version of the holiday was created by crusading journalist and pioneer newswoman, poet, novelist and abolitionist Sarah Josepha Hale (right). The holiday resulted from decades of relentless promotion by Hale, editor of American Ladies’ Magazine (1828-1836) and Godey’s Lady’s Book (1837-1877).

She promoted it in columns and stories in her periodicals and appealed directly to U.S. Presidents Zachary Taylor, Millard Fillmore, Franklin Pierce, James Buchanan and Abraham Lincoln until Lincoln finally recognized it as a national holiday.

Hale was a New England widow who raised five children by writing and editing. The author of the poem “Mary Had A Little Lamb,” Hale edited such magazine contributors as Nathaniel Hawthorne, Oliver Wendell Holmes and Washington Irving. She worked as a journalist until her retirement at the age of 89.