Excerpt taken from "Just Thoughts of a Plain Country Woman" by Lucile Ellingwood Morrow, published in The Collinsville News, November 24, 1949.
". . . As years passed, the idea of an American Thanksgiving for harvests spread, however it was never held the on same day, nor even in the same month. There are nine recorded instances of the colonies declaring Thanksgiving holidays before the Revolutionary War; on eight occasions during the War, the Continental Congress set aside special days of Thanksgiving, although these were in gratitude for victories won by the ragged, hungry American Army, not like the Pilgrim's holiday.
In 1789, however, Washington officially declared Thursday, November 26, as the a day of general Thanksgiving throughout the newly formed union.
It took a woman, though, to put the final touch into making the day a national holiday. Mrs. Sarah J. Hale, editor of Ladies' Magazine, began her campaign later. as editor of Godey's Lady's Book, (Ladies' Home Journal to us) her insistence was rewarded by President Lincoln naming the fourth Thursday of November as the official time. . . ."