Thanksgiving before 1863 was something of a moveable feast, with states honoring the holiday at various times or not at all. But as the Civil War dragged on, Abraham Lincoln needed a way to unite the country. It was a prominent magazine editor, Sarah Josepha Hale, who finally persuaded him to declare a national holiday.
Hale, born 1788 in Newport, New Hampshire, was a prolific writer. She authored biographies, cookbooks, novels, editorials, and volumes of poetry, including the children’s rhyme Mary Had a Little Lamb.