Godey's Lady's Book,
Sarah Josepha Hale
to Abraham Lincoln
September 28, 1863
Manuscript Division (48.5b,a)
Though various states claim to have hosted the first Thanksgiving,
the annual celebratory custom was most firmly fixed in New England,
as memorialized in a famous poem in a volume by Lydia Maria Child.
By the beginning of the Civil War most northern and mid-western
states, as well as many in the South had adopted this tradition.
The holiday was vigorously promoted by the indefatigable editor
of the influential mid- nineteenth-century magazine Godey's
Lady's Book, Sarah Josepha Hale, who for years had spurred
state action and, in this 1863 letter and editorial, helped persuade
Abraham Lincoln to make it a national holiday to be celebrated
on the fourth Thursday of November.