Thursday, November 22, 2012
A Day of Thanksgiving
Now we all know, or we think we know, how Thanksgiving came about. But do you know how it became an actual day of celebration? How about I tell you...because you know from all the previous blogs that I love to do that. History junkie that I am.
In 1789, October 3 to be precise, President George Washington (Now I know you all know who he is) proclaimed that Nov 26th would be a day "set aside to give sincere thanks and gratitude" and so we celebrated our very first Thanksgiving. On October 3 1863 (There's that day again) President Abraham Lincoln gave a proclamation stating that Thanksgiving would be celebrated on the fourth Thursday in November, thus making it a National holiday. Think about it. We are in the midst of a bloody civil war and the President asks people to put aside their differences and celebrated a single day of thanks in the face of all that terrifying death and destruction. And they do.
Next up comes our man, FDR. In 1939 he moved the date to the third Thursday of the month of November, in an effort to lengthen the shopping season and to bolster the economy. This move sparked wide-spread debate and in 1941 Congress passed a joint resolution (that means both the House and the Senate agreed on the resolution...something that rarely happens today) and President Roosevelt signed it thus ensuring by law that Thanksgiving would be celebrated nationwide on the fourth Thursday in November. (Check out last year's Black Friday Blog post for a bit more info on this if you're so inclined.)
So, my dirty birdies, I give you a brief history of Thanksgiving. Remember there is always more to something then the simple story you've been told in your youth. You know what I mean...Pilgrims and Indians sitting down to a huge feast in harmony and peace (right before the Pilgrims hand the Indians blankets infested with small pox...OK I'll stop ranting and save that for another blog)
One final note, YouTube the Butterball hot line episode of The West Wing. You will thank me for it later.
Here is the text of Lincoln's Proclamation on Thanksgiving. Enjoy and have a Happy Thanksgiving!
A Proclamation. The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consiousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom. No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union. In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United States to be affixed. Done at the City of Washington, this Third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the Unites States the Eighty-eighth.