An veteran newspaperman, Francis Pharcellus Church, responded, opening with, "Virginia, your little friends are wrong."
In the second paragraph Church insisted, "Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus..."
Church continued for three more paragraphs, and his response to young Virginia O'Hanlon has become an enduring bit of Christmas lore.
An excerpt from the "Yes, Virginia" editorial can be viewed at the Chronicling America site of the Library of Congress. If you view the entire page of the New York Sun, you can find the entire editorial about halfway down the third column.
More On Christmas In the 19th Century:
- Charles Dickens and A Christmas Carol
- Inventing the Modern Christmas
- History of Christmas Trees
- The First Electric Christmas Tree
Illustration: Santa Claus as drawn by cartoonist Thomas Nast/Library of Congress
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