A Thanksgiving HERstory



First let me say thank you, thank you for reading, thank you for allowing me to share my ideas with (or rambling as some may say) via this blog. This blog, these post, and your readerships are things I am highly thankful for this year. So that being said, as you get ready to travel to in-laws, be on-duty and with coworkers, or whatever you plan to do for this holiday dedicated to giving thanks, I want to provide you with a conversation topic for when dinner gets dry (not just the turkey or stuffing) or a perspective to ponder when you are too full to change the channel. This is the overlooked and often ignored story of thanksgiving. The story not really about the Mayflower or peaceful collaboration of Pilgrim and Native Americans, instead this is the story about a woman.
   
Sarah Josepha Hale was an author/editor, poet, advocate for equal education for woman, and a proponent for a national day of giving thanks.  In the early 1800s Sarah Hale worked as a school teacher and after her husbands death she worked to get publish and published a collection of her poems and eventually some novels making her the first person in the United States to publish a book on slavery. She took the stance that slavery was immoral and justice needed to happen in order for the nation to progress – she was also an advocate for relocating slaves to the country of Liberia.

There are several critiques out there that Sarah Hale perpetuated the stereotypical gender roles of the time. Yet, her position as editor or editress as she preferred, for the Ladies’ Magazine of Boston allowed her to serve as a champion for women’s education and led her to assist with the founding of Vassar College. However I believe it is important to point out, while she may have pushed for women’s education, she did believe in using a silent tactic and used helping roles such as teaching, writing, and other helping skills to gain these rights. She did not support the suffrage movement and maintained a belief in the "secret, silent influence of women".

Now for thanksgiving, sorry if you’re already starving – I promise we’re getting to the point. Another aspect Sarah Hale was known for was writing about New England, where she grew up and lived almost all her life, and how it was the example all states within the Union. She wrote to several presidents about having a national day of thanksgiving, which was commonly celebrated in the North, and was finally successful in 1863 in persuading President Lincoln (which I hear there is a really good movie out– let me know if you’ve seen it!) in creating a national Thanksgiving Day. Here is a direct quote from her letter to President Lincoln, which can be found here, “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”

So, this week as we celebrate Thanksgiving, I implore and challenge us all to acknowledge this great victory of Sarah Hale, the great victories of our times, and the great victories we have accomplished. Happy Thanksgiving! I would love to hear your thoughts!

In peace,

Ryan Bye 
@byebyeryan

P.s. Sarah Hale is also the author of Mary’s Lamb more commonly known as “Mary Had a Little Lamb”

Student Affairs - the First Years

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