Engaging views and analysis from outside contributors on the issues affecting society and faith today.

CP VOICES do not necessarily reflect the views of The Christian Post. Opinions expressed are solely those of the author(s).

The woman who is responsible for Thanksgiving

A girl eats while sitting at dining table during Thanksgiving.
A girl eats while sitting at dining table during Thanksgiving. | Getty Images

While most Americans probably have no idea who she was, Sarah Josepha Hale (1788-1879) can be seen as the mother of our modern Thanksgiving celebration.
In 1864, the Newport, New Hampshire native had become the “editress” of a respected publication known as “Godey's Lady’s Book.” In her prominent position, the young widow and mother of five was able to communicate with many American women. She believed that our nation’s first President, George Washington, had gotten it right when he decided that November 26, 1789, should be a day for all countrymen to participate in a day of worship to praise God for His blessings.
In her novel, Northwood: A Tale of New England, Sarah proposed that churches use donations collected during a day of Thanksgiving to help emancipate the slaves so that all Americans could live free.  Later, through a series of petitions to national politicians and a string of editorials, she began to gain some momentum for a national Thanksgiving Day.
Through her diligent work, Sarah Josepha Hale was able to persuade President Abraham Lincoln to proclaim a National Day of Thanksgiving every fourth Thursday of November, beginning in 1864.
Mr. Lincoln’s proclamation is a striking one. It read, in part:

“It has pleased Almighty God to prolong our national life another year, defending us with his guardian care against unfriendly designs from abroad, and vouchsafing to us in His mercy many and signal victories over the enemy, who is of our own household. It has also pleased our Heavenly Father to favor as well our citizens in their homes as our soldiers in their campus, and our sailors on the rivers and seas, with unusual health … moreover, He has been pleased to animate and inspire our minds and hearts with fortitude, courage, and resolution sufficient for the great trial of civil war into which we have been brought by our adherence as a nation to the cause of freedom and humanity, and to afford to us reasonable hopes of an ultimate and happy deliverance from all our dangers and afflictions.
Now, therefore, I, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States, do hereby appoint and set apart the last Thursday in November next as a day which I desire to be observed by all my fellow-citizens, wherever they may be then, as a day of thanksgiving and praise to Almighty God, the beneficent Creator and Ruler of the Universe.”

Today, we continue in this wonderful tradition of honoring God on Thanksgiving Day.
However, as I noted last week and have mentioned on several occasions in this column, the effort to purge our nation of its Christian heritage is accelerating.
That is why it is important for parents and grandparents to ensure that our children understand the historic significance of people like Sarah Josepha Hale. It is imperative that kids know of Abraham Lincoln’s important 1864 proclamation. And it is crucial that they be reminded of Gov. William Bradford’s 1621 proclamation for the Pilgrims in the New World to “render thanksgiving to ye Almighty God for all His blessings.”
This is our heritage whether The Freedom from Religion Foundation or anyone else likes it, or not.

Thanksgiving is the perfect time for teaching our children about our nation’s Christian legacy. We really need to ensure that we are countering the intense disinformation campaigns by making certain that our children are equipped with the truth of our nation’s history.
I close with the beautiful words of President Ronald Reagan, who reminded us in his November 19, 1988 radio address: “… in America, freedom seems like the air around us: It’s there; it’s sweet, though we rarely give it a thought. Yet as the air fills our lungs, freedom fills our souls. It gives breath to our laughter and joy. It gives voice to our songs. It gives us strength as we race for our dreams ... Yes, as we gather together this Thanksgiving to ask the Lord’s blessings, as we of whatever faith we are give praises to His name, let us thank Him for our peace, prosperity, and freedom.”

Get Our Latest News for FREE

Subscribe to get daily/weekly email with the top stories (plus special offers!) from The Christian Post. Be the first to know.

Dr. Alex McFarland is a youth, religion and culture expert, author of more than 20 books and is heard live daily on the 200+ stations of the American Family Radio Network. He is Director of worldview for Charis Bible College, Woodland Park, CO, and co-hosts the “Truth and Liberty” TV broadcast.   His website is,  

Was this article helpful?

Help keep The Christian Post free for everyone.

By making a recurring donation or a one-time donation of any amount, you're helping to keep CP's articles free and accessible for everyone.

We’re sorry to hear that.

Hope you’ll give us another try and check out some other articles. Return to homepage.

Most Popular

More In Opinion