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Thank a Lobbying Effort for Thanksgiving Day

It took a fifteen-year lobbying effort, including letters to five U.S. Presidents, for an American writer to persuade the President to proclaim a national holiday for Thanksgiving Day.

Sara Josepha Buell Hale (1788-1879) was most well-known for her nursery rhyme “Mary Had a Little Lamb.” But her other activities included writing Presidents Zachary Taylor, Millard Filmore, Franklin Pierce, James Buchanan and Abraham Lincoln to urge them to make Thanksgiving a national holiday. Prior to 1863 the only national holidays were Washington’s birthday and Independence Day.

Her letter to Lincoln in 1863 brought results. On October 3, 1863, President Lincoln signed the proclamation for a national Thanksgiving Day to be celebrated on the final Thursday in November.

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