Consider sharing today's Survival Scout story with a few friends who'd appreciate an inspiring, pick-me-up. You'll also learn about what Mary Had a Little Lamb had to do with Thanksgiving and preparedness.
Meet Sarah Josepha Hale
About a century and a half ago, brothers and sisters were deeply divided-- torn between opposing ideologies in a bitter war. Sound familiar?
As civil war ravaged our nation, one patriot woman did not settle for the cold shoulder. She did not believe that her voice was too insignificant to matter. Sarah Josepha Hale persistently wrote letters and finally earned President Abraham Lincoln's attention.
But, Sarah Josepha Hale did NOT have an easy life.
The Godmother of Thanksgiving
As a middle-aged woman, Sarah Josepha Hale wanted her countrymen to consider the blessings they'd been given-even though the United States was far from united. Embroiled in an ugly civil war between ideologies-- angry words and battles ended relationships between friends and family members.
But, Sarah Josepha Hale recognized a truth. She could not sit back. She would not allow herself to feel helpless. Her voice was NOT too insignificant. Her life and contributions mattered.
Do you know and feel that you make a difference?
Hale's Historic Letter
Sarah Josepha Hale decided to petition President Lincoln for a national holiday-a day of thanks. And, she got it. She wrote the following excerpts to Lincoln on September 28, 1863 and by October 3, 1863 Lincoln agreed:
"Sir.-- Permit me, as Editress of the "Lady's Book", to request a few minutes of your precious time, while laying before you a subject of deep interest to myself and -- as I trust -- even to the President of our Republic, of some importance. This subject is to have the day of our annual Thanksgiving made a National and fixed Union Festival...For the last fifteen years I have set forth this idea in the "Lady's Book", and placed the papers before the Governors of all the States and Territories -- also I have sent these to our Ministers abroad, and our Missionaries to the heathen -- and commanders in the Navy. From the recipients, I have received, uniformly the most kind approval.
A historic letter to Lincoln
Two of these letters, one from Governor (now General) Banks and one from Governor Morgan are enclosed; both gentlemen as you will see, have nobly aided to bring about the desired Thanksgiving Union. But I find there are obstacles not possible to be overcome without legislative aid -- that each State should, by statute, make it obligatory on the Governor to appoint the last Thursday of November, annually, as Thanksgiving Day; -- or, as this way would require years to be realized, it has occurred to me that a proclamation from the President of the United States would be the best, surest and most fitting method of National appointment. I have written to my friend, Hon. Wm. H. Seward, and requested him to confer with President Lincoln on this subject. As the President of the United States has the power of appointments for the District of Columbia and the Territories; also for the Army and Navy and all American citizens abroad who claim protection from the U. S. Flag -- could he not, with right as well as duty, issue his proclamation for a Day of National Thanksgiving for all the above classes of persons? And would it not be fitting and patriotic for him to appeal to the Governors of all the States, inviting and commending these to unite in issuing proclamations for the last Thursday in November as the Day of Thanksgiving for the people of each State? Thus, the great Union Festival of America would be established. Now the purpose of this letter is to entreat President Lincoln to put forth his Proclamation, appointing the last Thursday in November (which falls this year on the 26th) as the National Thanksgiving for all those classes of people who are under the National Government particularly, and commending this Union Thanksgiving to each State Executive: thus, by the noble example and action of the President of the United States, the permanency and unity of our Great American Festival of Thanksgiving would be forever secured."
In the days before women could vote, how did she become so influential? Hale had prepared for years before finally winning her campaign for Thanksgiving.
Are you preparing to have influence today and in the future?
A Woman Who Prepared Her Mind
Let's go back. Sarah Josepha Buell was blessed with a mother who homeschooled her. Born in 1788, Sarah grew into an avid reader. But she made an astute observation-"of all the books I saw, few were written by Americans, and none by women," so she decided to "promote the reputation of my own sex, and do something for my own country."
But there was a snag. Women weren't allowed to attend college. She could have stopped formal learning, but she didn't. Her brother shared his Dartmouth textbooks and Sarah's self-education continued. She began writing poems and teaching.
Then, Sarah married David Hale and began raising children. With the responsibilities of running a busy household, surely, she had plenty of reasons to stop reading, writing, and preparing her mind. Right?
Should a crazy schedule stop Mom or Dad
No. Sarah and her husband remained on a regiment of learning. For two hours every evening, David taught Sarah reasoning-and they cherished the time together. He was indeed a smart man because, after he died of a stroke nine years into their marriage and two weeks after the couple's fifth child was born, Sarah Josepha Hale was not left unprepared and helpless.
Are you prepared and positioned
How Sarah Josepha Hale Survived
Mary Had A Little Lamb
Undoubtedly she was devastated in 1822, but sometimes it's the worst in life that requires one to buck up and tackle challenges.
Sarah knew how to write and was already stocked with a collection of poems she wrote before her husband's death. Those were published and then a second book followed in 1830. Poems for Our Children was a hit with "Mary Had a Little Lamb," one of her most famous poems. It followed her wherever she went...
Hale wrote books and became the editor of a ladies' magazine. Steadily she wrote her way into prominence and used her position to improve life for families in America-not just her own family's life.
Are you preparing to influence the future of your family?
It's quite a story, isn't it? This middle-aged woman from the war-torn 1800s (who wasn't allowed to attend college...whose husband died leaving her alone with five children), still managed to pull herself up by her patriot bootstraps and influence President Abraham Lincoln, of all people, to proclaim a holiday that you're about to enjoy-a century and a half later.
She could have opted for the path of a sad sob story-- fading away into self-pity or dependency on others. But, naw. She was prepared for the challenges.
From our Patriot Family to yours!
Happy turkey day, indeed. Share the blessings and bounty around your table, and like Sarah Josepha Hale, reflect on everything there is to be grateful for this year. And prepare for the next. If she did it, we can too.
Read last week's Survival Scout: A PATRIOT'S THOUGHTS ON SHEEPDOG PREPAREDNESS