Day of thanks develops into national holiday over 240 years

Michael Bushnell
Northeast News

What we celebrate as Thanksgiving is traditionally tied to a three-day feast involving the Pilgrims after their first harvest in 1621.

After the long winter that claimed many lives that first year at Plymouth Colony, the settlers put together a fall celebration to give thanks for the bountiful harvest and for surviving the harsh New England winter.

The colonists ate with the Wampanoag Indians and the menu included wild fowl, venison, seafood, squash, and corn.

The Pilgrims celebrated a day of giving thanks again in 1623.

After that, a tradition began in Plymouth and other New England colonies of setting aside a day to give thanks for the autumn harvest.

Although this tradition did not take place every year, it persisted throughout the rest of the 17th century and became the foundation of a maturing colonial landscape.

During the Revolutionary War, the Continental Congress appointed one or more days of giving thanks each year except for 1777.

In that year, General George Washington declared the holiday to be in December as a victory celebration for the defeat of the British at Saratoga.

Washington later issued proclamations of the Thanksgiving holiday in 1789 and 1795, this time as the President of the newly-formed United States of America.

However, it was not until another war that Thanksgiving Day was officially proclaimed a national holiday.

Influenced by a seemingly unending stream of letters from Sarah Josepha Hale, Abraham Lincoln issued a proclamation in October 1863 officially recognizing the last Thursday in November as Thanksgiving Day.

Hale’s campaign to have Thanksgiving observed as a national holiday lasted more than 40 years and consisted of tireless lobbying efforts of her elected representatives and literally thousands of letters sent to presidents dating back to Andrew Jackson.

Later, President Franklin D. Roosevelt, under mounting pressure from the business community, re-designated the holiday to be celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November.

Want Northeast News articles sent straight to your inbox each week? Subscribe below!
Enter your email address and click on the Get Instant Access button.
We respect your privacy

Comments are closed.

  • Remember This: Mail Order Catalogues

    December 4th, 2019

    Dorri Partain Northeast News Grab your notebook paper and sharpen your pencils, kids. It’s time to make your Christmas “wish […]

    Corner market did business on Ninth Street

    December 4th, 2019

    Michael Bushnell Northeast News Although there’s a vacant lot where Benedict L. Bredburg’s Metropolitan Grocery once stood, such “corner markets” […]

    Remember This: Holiday Glitter Plaques

    November 27th, 2019

    Dorri Partain Northeast News Whether hung on a door, a wall, or in a window, these bright-colored decorations were a […]

    Remember This? Pie bird

    November 20th, 2019

    Dorri Partain Northeast News A little bird told me your pie crusts are soggy. While this little ceramic bird might […]

    Colonnaded apartments a KC icon

    November 20th, 2019

    Michael Bushnell Northeast News The Collinwood Apartments, located at 2501-2519 E. Linwood Boulevard, were developed and built by William H. […]

  • Remember This: mimeographs and Ditto machines

    November 13th, 2019

    Dorri Partain Northeast News Making copies? Whether you need 2 or 200, the process has not always been as easy […]

    When the center isn’t really the center

    November 13th, 2019

    Michael Bushnell Northeast News Depending on whom you ask, the geographic center of the United States could be one of […]

    P&L building lights up KC

    November 6th, 2019

    Michael Bushnell Northeast News Arguably one of the finest examples of Art Deco architecture in the country, rivaled only by […]

    Remember This: Reddy Kilowatt

    November 5th, 2019

    Dorri Partain Northeast News Someone’s in the kitchen with Reddy Kilowatt. In 1926, Ashton B. Collins Sr. was looking to […]

    REMEMBER THIS? Inexpensive costumes.

    October 30th, 2019

    Dorri Partain Northeast News What would you like to be for Halloween? Whether it’s an animal, an occupation, or the […]

  • Want articles sent directly to your inbox each week? Subscribe below!
    We respect your privacy and will not distribute your information.