Thanksgiving Day

The establishment of the day we now celebrate nationwide was largely the result of the diligent efforts of a magazine editor Sarah Josepha Hale. Mrs. Hale started her one-woman crusade for a Thanksgiving celebration in 1827, but it wasn't until after the bloody battle at Gettysburg in 1863 that the general feeling of elation together with her highly emotional and patriotic editorials prompted President Abraham Lincoln to issue a proclamation on October 3, 1863, setting aside the -last Thursday in November as a national Thanksgiving Day.
Sarah Josepha Buell was born October 24, 1788, in Newport, New Hampshire. Self-educated, at 18 she became a schoolteacher in Newport and worked there until 1813, when she married David Hale, a lawyer. At his death nine years later, she was a 34 year-old pregnant mother of four who nonetheless rose to become one of America's most successful women writers. Hale's poems " Mary's Lamb," "Prayer," and " Birds" were for decades published without credit in McGuffey's readers, the most important American school book of the century. She was living in Philadelphia by 1841 and completed there her greatest work, the 36-volume Sketches of Distinguished Women (1853-76). She died at the age of 90, two years after she retired as literary editor from Godey 's Lady's Book, the dominant woman's magazine of her time.

Mary's Lamb

By Sarah J. Hale

Mary had a little lamb; its fleece was white as snow, And everywhere that Mary went, the lamb was sure to go. He followed her to school one day-that was against the rule, It made the children laugh and play to see a lamb at school.
And so the Teacher turned him out, but still he lingered near,
And waited patiently about, till Mary did appear.
And then he ran to her and laid his head upon her arm,
As if he said - "I'm not afraid - you'll shield me from all harm."
"What makes the lamb love Mary so" the little children cry; "O, Mary loves the lamb you know, the teacher did reply, And you each gentle animal in confidence may bind, And make them follow at your call, if you are always kind."

We believe that Mary was a real person living in Sterling, Massachusetts around 1830 for today the descendants of Mary Snyder proudly claim that she was indeed the inspiration for Mrs. Hale's famous poem. After all these years parents still tell their children starting to first grade the story of the little lamb that followed Mary to school. The one-room school house in Sterling has since been torn down, but there is a bronze statue of the Lamb in the town commons. Mary and her lamb were made immortal when on November 20, 1877 (125 years ago) Thomas A. Edison spoke the words "Mary had a little lamb" into his latest invention, the phonograph. These were the first words of recorded human speech.