Today’s post comes from National Archives Office of Strategy and Communications staff writer Rob Crotty.
Here, in short, are the documents that made Thanksgiving.
On October 3, 1789, President George Washington issued a proclamation naming Thursday, November 26, 1789, as an official holiday of “sincere and humble thanks.” The nation then celebrated its first Thanksgiving under its new Constitution.
On October 3, 1863, President Lincoln made the traditional Thanksgiving celebration a nationwide holiday to be commemorated each year on the fourth Thursday of November. In the midst of a bloody Civil War, President Lincoln issued a Presidential Proclamation in which he enumerated the blessings of the American people and called upon his countrymen to “set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise.”
In 1939, President Franklin D. Roosevelt moved the holiday to the third Thursday of November to lengthen the Christmas shopping season and boost the economy which was still recovering from the Depression. This move, which set off a national debate, was reversed in 1941 when Congress passed and President Roosevelt approved a joint house resolution establishing the fourth Thursday in November as Thanksgiving Day.
For more information, please read our related press release. Happy Thanksgiving!
3 thoughts on “Thanksgiving, as American as apple pie”
I thought you would find this interesting.
Seems to be a strange caption on the Joint Resolution. It says that Pearl Harbor had occurred just two weeks prior, but Pearl Harbor was Dec. 7, and the resolution was passed on October 6.
You raise a good point! The Resolution was signed into law by FDR on December 26. We’ll make the correction. Happy Thanksgiving!