The National Holiday: Thanksgiving

When we think of Thanksgiving, we mostly think of the pilgrims at the first colonies in the Americas dining with the Native Americans they met when they landed. However, this was just the beginning. It was a long road to travel before Thanksgiving became an official holiday.

George Washington issued the first Thanksgiving proclamation in 1789, calling on Americans to express gratitude for the happy conclusion of the American Revolution and the ratification of the U.S. Constitution.

The National Holiday as we know it is thanks to magazine editor and prolific writer Sarah Josepha Hale, who launched a campaign in 1827. According to History.com, “Abraham Lincoln finally heeded her request in 1863, at the height of the Civil War, in a proclamation entreating all Americans to ask God to ‘commend to his tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife’ and to ‘heal the wounds of the nation.'”

Lincoln scheduled Thanksgiving for the final Thursday in November. Later on, Franklin D. Roosevelt moved the holiday up a week in an attempt to spur retail sales during the Great Depression. His plan was met with passionate opposition, and in 1941 he reluctantly signed a bill making Thanksgiving the fourth Thursday in November.

According to a blog by the Indianapolis Public Library, “Indigenous Peoples in America recognize Thanksgiving as a day of mourning. It is a time to remember ancestral history as well as a day to acknowledge and protest the racism and oppression which they continue to experience today. It is important to learn and remember the full history of colonization and the reality that it included centuries of genocide, the theft of land, and oppression.”


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