Just how did Thanksgiving become a national holiday? With big thanks to American Spirit, magazine of the Daughter of the American Revolution, Nov-Dec 2015, for this information (from which article I liberally quoted).
We can thank Sarah Joseph Buell Hale who convinced President Lincoln to issue that famous proclamation.
Sarah Josepha Buell was born in New Hampshire in 1788. In 1813 she married David Hale who left her a widow with five young children in 1821.
Having to support her children, Sarah took to writing was was successfully published. While she was self-educated she pushed for women's rights and wrote many editorials using her authority to promote a variety of causes she was passionate about.
In 1837, Sarah wrote the first of many editorials aimed at making Thanksgiving a national holiday. At the time, it was observed at the state level, usually on the last Thursday in November. Sarah kept up her efforts through the 1840s and in 1860 she wrote, "This year the last Thursday in November falls on the 29th. If all the States and Territories hold their Thanksgiving on that day there will be a complete moral and social reunion of the people of America in 1860. Would this not be a good omen for the perpetual political union of the States? May God grant us not only the omen but the fulfillment is our dearest wish!"
The clouds of the Civil War were gathering on the horizon and Sarah felt them keenly and dreaded what the war would bring to her country, family and friends.
After one more letter to him in September 1863, finally on October 3, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln issued a proclamation making the last Thursday in November a national day of Thanksgiving. Not fully satisfied, Sarah continued her efforts into 1871 pressing Congress to enact legislation proclaiming a set date for Thanksgiving.
When you gather friends and family, and serve that roast turkey this year on November 27th, remember Sarah Josepha Buell Hall for helping establish this holiday.
Remember, too, that in the fall of 1863 the war was raging and yet President Lincoln took time for this. That tells me how important this day really is. Donna