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One of the many touchstones by which Thanksgiving is remembered and recharged is the proclamation by Abraham Lincoln on Oct. 3, 1863, that declared the final Thursday of the month of November as a national holiday.
Before that time, only Washington’s Birthday and the Fourth of July were national holidays.
A few days before that occasion, on September 28, 1863, Sarah Hale, a magazine editor and the author of “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” had written him a letter that gave so many future generations this day of rest and contemplation.
Hale had been campaigning for 17 years for a Thanksgiving holiday and had written to many other Presidents on this subject to no avail.
“Permit me to request a few moments of your precious time, while laying before you a subject of deep interest to myself and I trust even to the President of our Republic of some importance,” she began.
She enclosed an editorial from her magazine, the “Lady’s Book,” that argued for the benefits of such a day not only for our own sake, but also for everybody else’s.
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