Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Thank You, Sarah

The pen is mightier than the sword."  
Edward Bulwer-Lytton

Emmy and I recently discovered a very persistent woman in history who helped to save Thanksgiving for all Americans - Sarah Josepha Hale.  This discovery was thanks to author Laurie Halse Anderson and her funny and inspirational book Thank You, Sarah The Woman Who Saved Thanksgiving.  Anderson has written many children's and young adult books based on American history with an upcoming book in the works about one of her heroes Abigail Adams.  With lively illustrations by Matt Faulkner that often resemble caricatures, the story of Sarah Hale comes to life as a woman who means business.

"Way, way back, when skirts were long and hats were tall, Thanksgiving was fading away.  
Sure, the folks up in New England celebrated it.  They'd roast a turkey and invite 
the relatives when the harvest came in.  But not in the South, not in the West, 
not even in the Middle Atlantic states.  More and more, people ignored the holiday.  
Thanksgiving was in trouble.  It needed...A SUPERHERO!  No, not that kind.  
Thanksgiving needed a real superhero, someone bold and brave and stubborn and smart.  Thanksgiving needed Sarah Hale."  

I love the message that putting pen to paper is a way to create change by getting others to hear your point of view and perhaps persuade them to change their way of thinking.  It took Sarah Hale thirty-eight years and thousands of letters to persuade our top leaders to declare the fourth Thursday in November as Thanksgiving.  Four presidents denied Hale's request, but not Abraham Lincoln.  In the year 1863, President Lincoln declared Thanksgiving a national holiday.
If you are interested in reading Hale's letter to President Lincoln, you can find it here

And so Emmy and I give thanks this Thanksgiving to Sarah Hale for using her pen to stand up for what she believed in and creating change.  Sarah Hale's life has made a tremendous difference in the culture of our country.  Both Emmy and I have enjoyed getting to know who she was.  These are the facts that Emmy would like everyone to know:
*  She was the first American female magazine editor.  The Ladies' Magazine was where she published fashion, household and educational articles alongside poems and short stories that she wrote as well as some of the most famous authors of her day...Edgar Allan Poe, Harriet Beecher Stowe and Nathaniel Hawthorne to name a few.  She then went on to become editor for the magazine Godey's Lady's Book where she worked for forty years.
* She wrote the popular nursery rhyme Mary Had A Little Lamb in the year 1830 after a lamb followed one of her students to school one day.
* She pushed hard for the education of girls and for women's colleges and helped found Vassar College
* She strongly believed in play and physical education and helped to build playgrounds
* She raised money to preserve and build monuments honoring historical figures and events such as George Washington's Mount Vernon plantation and Bunker Hill in Boston, MA.

We both highly recommend the book Thank You, Sarah as it helped Emmy to realize that children have a great deal of influence.  By writing letters to the head of school, the city council, the mayor and newspaper editors, she can make her opinions heard and perhaps create change.

To give you a little taste of the book, here is Emmy reading the first few pages.  Enjoy!

To read our other posts about Thanksgiving click on the following: