Today is Thanksgiving in the U.S., so let's take a look at author and editor Sarah Josepha Hale (1788-1879). You know her work; she wrote "Mary Had a Little Lamb," which was the first speech ever recorded on the newly-invented (1877) phonograph. But she also wrote more weighty stuff - historical fiction set during the Civil War, stories about slavery (she was adamantly against it), and about the North and South coming together. She was one of the very first female American novelists.
She also wrote a letter campaign which lasted seventeen years. She wrote to five U.S. presidents, beginning in 1846, calling for Thanksgiving to be made a national holiday. Thanksgiving had been celebrated by several states, but was unknown in much of the South. She convinced Abraham Lincoln to support legislation to establish Thanksgiving as an official, national holiday. The date was changed a few times until Franklin D Roosevelt set the date we currently recognize, the fourth Thursday in November, but the point is that Sarah Josepha Hale firmly believed in the unification of the country and she didn't stop taking steps until someone with the power to take bigger steps listened and agreed.
She got a lot of important things done in her life. As editor of American Ladies' Magazine, she worked to publish American writers, at a time when many other American magazines were mainly reprinting articles from British periodicals. She believed in higher education and employment for women, she helped to found Vassar College, she raised money to complete the Bunker Hill Monument. She was a powerhouse who started her eminent career the year after her beloved husband died. She raised her five children, and she worked until she was 89.
Here's to Sarah Josepha Hale. May we all "lend (our) aid to the intellectual and moral character of those within (our) sphere."