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During the American Civil War Senate passed resolutions known as Thanks of Congress after impressive actions by military commanders. Those recognized in the way included William Rosecrans (March, 1863), Ulysses Grant (March, 1863), Nathaniel Banks (January, 1864), Ambrose Burnside (January, 1864), Joseph Hooker (January, 1864), Oliver Howard (January, 1864), George Meade (January, 1864), William T. Sherman (February, 1864 and January, 1865), Philip Sheridan (February, 1865), George Thomas (March, 1865). However, it was a naval commander, David Porter, who held the best record as the Senate voted him four Thanks of Congress.
Thanks of Congress - History
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7 facts you might not know about the history of Thanksgiving
Tradition has it that the first Thanksgiving – a celebration of good harvest – took place in 1621, when English Pilgrims at Plymouth Plantation in Massachusetts shared a meal with their Native American neighbours. However, historian Michael Gannon argues that the first Thanksgiving celebration in North America actually took place half a century earlier, in Florida.
On 8 September 1565, he says, following a religious service, Spaniards shared a communal meal with the local native tribe.
When Thanksgiving became a public holiday
According to the US National Archives, on 28 September 1789 the first Federal Congress passed a resolution asking that the president of the United States recommend to the nation a day of thanksgiving. A few days later, George Washington issued a proclamation naming Thursday 26 November 1789 as a “Day of Publick Thanksgivin” – the first time Thanksgiving was celebrated under the new Constitution.
The dates of Thanksgiving celebrations varied as subsequent presidents came and went, and it wasn’t until Abraham Lincoln’s 1863 Proclamation – in the midst of the Civil War – that Thanksgiving was regularly commemorated each year on the last Thursday of November.
Why did the dates of Thanksgiving change?
The US National Archives says that in 1939, with the last Thursday in November falling on the last day of the month, Franklin D Roosevelt became concerned that the shortened Christmas shopping season might dampen economic recovery. He therefore issued a Presidential Proclamation moving Thanksgiving to the second to last Thursday of November.
Some 32 states consequently issued similar proclamations, but 16 states refused to accept the change. As a result, for two years two days were celebrated as Thanksgiving.
To end the confusion, on 6 October 1941 Congress set a fixed date for the holiday: it passed a joint resolution declaring the last Thursday in November to be the legal Thanksgiving Day.
The first Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade
The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, which is televised nationally on NBC, has been marching since 1924. That year, the department store’s president, Herbert Strauss, organised a six-mile procession from Harlem to the Macy’s store in Herald Square. The parade featured animals – including elephants – from the Central Park Zoo, and was nearly three times as long as it is today: for the purposes of television filming, the route was later reduced to 2.5 miles.
Turkey hasn’t always been on the menu at Thanksgiving
While turkey is today the bird of choice for Thanksgiving dinners across the United States, this was not always the case: according to History.com, for the first ever Thanksgiving in 1621 the Native Americans killed five deer as a gift for the colonists, meaning venison would most likely have been the dish of the day.
Why does the president of the USA pardon a turkey at Thanksgiving?
Each Thanksgiving, the president of the United States ‘pardons’ a hand-selected turkey, sending it to a farm where it lives out the rest of its days. But, contrary to popular belief, President George HW Bush was not in 1989 the first president to grant such a pardon.
According to the White House, the tradition dates to Abraham Lincoln’s days, when his son Tad begged him to write a presidential pardon for the bird meant for the family’s Christmas table, arguing it had as much a right to live as anyone. Lincoln complied, and the turkey lived.
The tradition of American football on Thanksgiving
Each Thanksgiving, millions of Americans tune in to watch the Detroit Lions play American Football. This tradition dates to 1934, when the team took on the undefeated, defending World Champion Chicago Bears of George Halas. Despite losing the inaugural game, since then the Lions have played football every Thanksgiving except between 1939 and 1944.
Emma Mason is Digital Editor at HistoryExtra.com
To read more American history, click here.
This article was first published by HistoryExtra in 2014
By the President of the United States of America. a Proclamation.
Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor—and whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me “to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.”
Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be—That we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks—for his kind care and protection of the People of this Country previous to their becoming a Nation—for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of his Providence which we experienced in the course and conclusion of the late war—for the great degree of tranquillity, union, and plenty, which we have since enjoyed—for the peaceable and rational manner, in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national One now lately instituted—for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge and in general for all the great and various favors which he hath been pleased to confer upon us.
and also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech him to pardon our national and other transgressions—to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually—to render our national government a blessing to all the people, by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed—to protect and guide all Sovereigns and Nations (especially such as have shewn kindness unto us) and to bless them with good government, peace, and concord—To promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the encrease of science among them and us—and generally to grant unto all Mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best.
Given under my hand at the City of New-York the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789.
Celebrate National Teacher Appreciation Week in Your Classroom
The NEA believes National Teacher Day is day to not only honor teachers but to show them that they help make lasting impressions on their students’ lives. Typical gifts range from thank you notes to small treats and gifts.
Whether you want to send a small gift or a kind word, make sure to plan on letting the teachers in your life know that they are appreciated. If you’re looking for ideas for ways to showcase your appreciation, check out this list of ideas:
George Washington, now serving as the first President of the United States, took Congress’s recommendation to call for a national day of thanksgiving and prayer in gratitude for the end of the Revolutionary War. Washington observed the holiday by attending church and then donating money and food to prisoners and debtors in New York City jails.
Sarah Josepha Hale, who started championing a national Thanksgiving holiday in 1827 as the editor of Gody’s Lady’s Book, began her 17-year letter-writing campaign in 1846 to convince American presidents that it was time to make Thanksgiving official.
Kean Collection/Archive Photos/Getty Images
Early thanksgiving observances Edit
Setting aside time to give thanks for one's blessings, along with holding feasts to celebrate a harvest, are both practices that long predate the European settlement of North America. The first documented thanksgiving services in territory currently belonging to the United States were conducted by Spaniards   and the French in the 16th century. 
Thanksgiving services were routine in what became the Commonwealth of Virginia as early as 1607,  with the first permanent settlement of Jamestown, Virginia holding a thanksgiving in 1610.  In 1619, 38 English settlers arrived at Berkeley Hundred in Charles City County, Virginia. The group's London Company charter specifically required "that the day of our ships arrival at the place assigned . in the land of Virginia shall be yearly and perpetually kept holy as a day of thanksgiving to Almighty God."   Three years later, after the Indian massacre of 1622, the Berkeley Hundred site and other outlying locations were abandoned and colonists moved their celebration to Jamestown and other more secure spots. [ citation needed ]
|The True Story of the First Thanksgiving, American Experience, PBS, November 24, 2015 |
Harvest festival observed by the Pilgrims at Plymouth Edit
The most prominent historic thanksgiving event in American popular culture is the 1621 celebration at the Plymouth Plantation, where the settlers held a harvest feast after a successful growing season. Autumn or early winter feasts continued sporadically in later years, first as an impromptu religious observance and later as a civil tradition. [ citation needed ]
The Plymouth settlers, known as Pilgrims, had settled in land abandoned when all but one of the Patuxet Indians died in a disease outbreak. After a harsh winter killed half of the Plymouth settlers, the last surviving Patuxet, Tisquantum, more commonly known by the diminutive variant Squanto (who had learned English and avoided the plague as a slave in Europe), came in at the request of Samoset, the first Native American to encounter the Pilgrims. Squanto taught the Pilgrims how to catch eel and grow corn and served as an interpreter for them until he too succumbed to the disease a year later. The Wampanoag leader Massasoit also gave food to the colonists during the first winter when supplies brought from England were insufficient. [ citation needed ]
The Pilgrims celebrated at Plymouth for three days after their first harvest in 1621. The exact time is unknown, but James Baker, the Plimoth Plantation vice president of research, stated in 1996, "The event occurred between Sept. 21 and Nov. 11, 1621, with the most likely time being around Michaelmas (Sept. 29), the traditional time."  Seventeenth-century accounts do not identify this as a Thanksgiving observance, rather it followed the harvest. It included 50 people who were on the Mayflower (all who remained of the 100 who had landed) and 90 Native Americans.  The feast was cooked by the four adult Pilgrim women who survived their first winter in the New World (Eleanor Billington, Elizabeth Hopkins, Mary Brewster, and Susanna White), along with young daughters and male and female servants.  
Two colonists gave personal accounts of the 1621 feast in Plymouth. The Pilgrims, most of whom were Separatists (English Dissenters), are not to be confused with Puritans, who established their own Massachusetts Bay Colony on the Shawmut Peninsula (current day Boston) in 1630.   Both groups were strict Calvinists, but differed in their views regarding the Church of England. Puritans wished to remain in the Anglican Church and reform it, while the Pilgrims wanted complete separation from the church. 
They began now to gather in the small harvest they had, and to fit up their houses and dwellings against winter, being all well recovered in health and strength and had all things in good plenty. For as some were thus employed in affairs abroad, others were exercised in fishing, about cod and bass and other fish, of which they took good store, of which every family had their portion. All the summer there was no want and now began to come in store of fowl, as winter approached, of which this place did abound when they can be used (but afterward decreased by degrees). And besides waterfowl, there was great store of wild turkeys, of which they took many, besides venison, etc. Besides, they had about a peck a meal a week to a person, or now since harvest, Indian corn to the proportion. Which made many afterward write so largely of their plenty here to their friends in England, which were not feigned but true reports. 
Our harvest being gotten in, our governor sent four men on fowling, that so we might after a special manner rejoice together after we had gathered the fruits of our labor. They four in one day killed as much fowl as, with a little help beside, served the company almost a week. At which time, amongst other recreations, we exercised our arms, many of the Indians coming amongst us, and among the rest their greatest king Massasoit, with some ninety men, whom for three days we entertained and feasted, and they went out and killed five deer, which we brought to the plantation and bestowed on our governor, and upon the captain and others. And although it be not always so plentiful as it was at this time with us, yet by the goodness of God, we are so far from want that we often wish you, partakers of our plenty. 
The Pilgrims held a true Thanksgiving celebration in 1623   following a fast  and a refreshing 14-day rain,  which resulted in a larger harvest. William DeLoss Love calculates that this thanksgiving was made on Wednesday, July 30, 1623, a day before the arrival of a supply ship with more colonists,  but before the fall harvest. In Love's opinion this 1623 thanksgiving was significant because the order to recognize the event was from civil authority  (Governor Bradford), and not from the church, making it likely the first civil recognition of Thanksgiving in New England. 
Referring to the 1623 harvest after the nearly catastrophic drought, Bradford wrote:
And afterward the Lord sent them such seasonable showers, with the interchange of fair warm weather as, through His blessing, caused a fruitful and liberal harvest, to their no small comfort and rejoicing. For which mercy, in time convenient, they also set apart a day of thanksgiving . By this time harvest was come, and instead of famine now God gave them plenty . for which they blessed God. And the effect of their particular planting was well seen, for all had . pretty well . so as any general want or famine had not been amongst them since to this day. 
These firsthand accounts do not appear to have contributed to the early development of the holiday. Bradford's "Of Plymouth Plantation" was not published until the 1850s. The booklet "Mourt's Relation" was summarized by other publications without the now-familiar thanksgiving story. By the eighteenth century, the original booklet appeared to be lost or forgotten a copy was rediscovered in Philadelphia in 1820, with the first full reprinting in 1841. In a footnote the editor, Alexander Young, was the first person to identify the 1621 feast as the first Thanksgiving. 
According to historian James Baker, debates over where any "first Thanksgiving" took place on modern American territory are a "tempest in a beanpot".  Jeremy Bang claims, "Local boosters in Virginia, Florida, and Texas promote their own colonists, who (like many people getting off a boat) gave thanks for setting foot again on dry land."  Baker claims, "the American holiday's true origin was the New England Calvinist Thanksgiving. Never coupled with a Sabbath meeting, the Puritan observances were special days set aside during the week for thanksgiving and praise in response to God's providence." 
President John F. Kennedy issued Proclamation 3560 on November 5, 1963: "Over three centuries ago, our forefathers in Virginia and in Massachusetts, far from home in a lonely wilderness, set aside a time of thanksgiving. On the appointed day, they gave reverent thanks for their safety, for the health of their children, for the fertility of their fields, for the love which bound them together and for the faith which united them with their God." 
The Revolutionary War Edit
The First National Proclamation of Thanksgiving was given by the Continental Congress in 1777 from its temporary location in York, Pennsylvania, while the British occupied the national capital at Philadelphia. Delegate Samuel Adams created the first draft. Congress then adopted the final version:
For as much as it is the indispensable Duty of all Men to adore the superintending Providence of Almighty God to acknowledge with Gratitude their Obligation to him for Benefits received, and to implore such farther Blessings as they stand in Need of: And it had pleased him in his abundant Mercy, not only to continue to us the innumerable Bounties of his common Providence but also to smile upon us in the Prosecution of a just and necessary war, for the Defense and Establishment of our unalienable Rights and Liberties particularly in that he hath been pleased, in so great a Measure, to prosper the Means used for the Support of our Troops, and to crown our Arms with most signal success:
It is therefore recommended to the legislative or executive Powers of these United States to set apart Thursday, the eighteenth Day of December next, for Solemn Thanksgiving and Praise: That at one Time and with one Voice, the good People may express the grateful Feelings of their Hearts, and consecrate themselves to the Service of their Divine Benefactor and that, together with their sincere Acknowledgments and Offerings, they may join the penitent Confession of their manifold Sins, whereby they had forfeited every Favor and their humble and earnest Supplication that it may please God through the Merits of Jesus Christ, mercifully to forgive and blot them out of Remembrance That it may please him graciously to afford his Blessing on the Governments of these States respectively, and prosper the public Council of the whole: To inspire our Commanders, both by Land and Sea, and all under them, with that Wisdom and Fortitude which may render them fit Instruments, under the Providence of Almighty God, to secure for these United States, the greatest of all human Blessings, Independence and Peace: That it may please him, to prosper the Trade and Manufactures of the People, and the Labor of the Husbandman, that our Land may yield its Increase: To take Schools and Seminaries of Education, so necessary for cultivating the Principles of true Liberty, Virtue and Piety, under his nurturing Hand and to prosper the Means of Religion, for the promotion and enlargement of that Kingdom, which consisteth "in Righteousness, Peace and Joy in the Holy Ghost.
And it is further recommended, That servile Labor, and such Recreation, as, though at other Times innocent, may be unbecoming the Purpose of this Appointment, be omitted on so solemn an Occasion.
George Washington, leader of the revolutionary forces in the American Revolutionary War, proclaimed a Thanksgiving in December 1777 as a victory celebration honoring the defeat of the British at Saratoga. 
Thanksgiving proclamations in the early Republic Edit
The Continental Congress, the legislative body that governed the United States from 1774 to 1789, issued several "national days of prayer, humiliation, and thanksgiving",  a practice that was continued by presidents Washington and Adams under the Constitution, and has manifested itself in the established American observances of Thanksgiving and the National Day of Prayer today.  This proclamation was published in The Independent Gazetteer, or the Chronicle of Freedom, on November 5, 1782, the first being observed on November 28, 1782:
By the United States in Congress assembled, PROCLAMATION.
It being the indispensable duty of all nations, not only to offer up their supplications to Almighty God, the giver of all good, for His gracious assistance in a time of distress, but also in a solemn and public manner, to give Him praise for His goodness in general, and especially for great and signal interpositions of His Providence in their behalf therefore, the United States in Congress assembled, taking into their consideration the many instances of Divine goodness to these States in the course of the important conflict, in which they have been so long engaged the present happy and promising state of public affairs, and the events of the war in the course of the year now drawing to a close particularly the harmony of the public Councils which is so necessary to the success of the public cause the perfect union and good understanding which has hitherto subsisted between them and their allies, notwithstanding the artful and unwearied attempts of the common enemy to divide them the success of the arms of the United States and those of their allies and the acknowledgment of their Independence by another European power, whose friendship and commerce must be of great and lasting advantage to these States Do hereby recommend it to the inhabitants of these States in general, to observe and request the several states to interpose their authority, in appointing and commanding the observation of THURSDAY the TWENTY-EIGHTH DAY OF NOVEMBER next as a day of SOLEMN THANKSGIVING to GOD for all His mercies and they do further recommend to all ranks to testify their gratitude to God for His goodness by a cheerful obedience to His laws and by promoting, each in his station, and by his influence, the practice of true and undefiled religion, which is the great foundation of public prosperity and national happiness.
Done in Congress at Philadelphia, the eleventh day of October, in the year of our LORD, one thousand seven hundred and eighty-two, and of our Sovereignty and Independence, the seventh.
JOHN HANSON, President. CHARLES THOMSON, Secretary. 
On Thursday, September 24, 1789, the first House of Representatives voted to recommend the First Amendment of the newly drafted Constitution to the states for ratification. The next day, Congressman Elias Boudinot from New Jersey proposed that the House and Senate jointly request of President Washington to proclaim a day of thanksgiving for "the many signal favors of Almighty God". Boudinot said he "could not think of letting the session pass over without offering an opportunity to all the citizens of the United States of joining, with one voice, in returning to Almighty God their sincere thanks for the many blessings he had poured down upon them." 
As President, on October 3, 1789, George Washington made the following proclamation and created the first Thanksgiving Day designated by the national government of the United States of America:
Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor, and whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me "to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness."
Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be. That we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks, for his kind care and protection of the People of this Country previous to their becoming a Nation, for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of his providence, which we experienced in the course and conclusion of the late war, for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty, which we have since enjoyed, for the peaceable and rational manner, in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national One now lately instituted, for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge and in general for all the great and various favors which he hath been pleased to confer upon us.
And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech him to pardon our national and other transgressions, to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually, to render our national government a blessing to all the people, by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed, to protect and guide all Sovereigns and Nations (especially such as have shown kindness unto us) and to bless them with good government, peace, and concord. To promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and Us, and generally to grant unto all Mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best.
Given under my hand at the City of New York the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789. 
On January 1, 1795, Washington proclaimed a Thanksgiving Day to be observed on Thursday, February 19.
President John Adams declared Thanksgivings in 1798 and 1799. As Thomas Jefferson was a deist and a skeptic of the idea of divine intervention, he did not declare any thanksgiving days during his presidency. James Madison renewed the tradition in 1814, in response to resolutions of Congress, at the close of the War of 1812. Caleb Strong, Governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, declared the holiday in 1813, "for a day of public thanksgiving and prayer" for Thursday, November 25 of that year. 
Madison also declared the holiday twice in 1815 however, neither of these was celebrated in autumn. In 1816, Governor Plumer of New Hampshire appointed Thursday, November 14 to be observed as a day of Public Thanksgiving and Governor Brooks of Massachusetts appointed Thursday, November 28 to be "observed throughout that State as a day of Thanksgiving". 
A thanksgiving day was annually appointed by the governor of New York, De Witt Clinton, in 1817. In 1830, the New York State Legislature officially sanctioned thanksgiving as a holiday, making New York the first state outside of New England to do so. 
In 1846, Sara Josepha Hale began a campaign to make Thanksgiving a national holiday, to be held on the last Thursday in November. She wrote to presidents, members of Congress, and every governor of every state and territory for the next seventeen years to promote the idea, as well as popularizing it in her books and editorials. Hale hoped that Thanksgiving, as a national holiday, would foster the “moral and social reunion of Americans.”  She also proposed that churches mark the holiday by collecting funds for the purchasing of slaves and their education and repatriation back to Africa.  By 1860 proclamations appointing a day of thanksgiving were issued by the governors of thirty states and three territories. 
Guests at the feast included 90 Wampanoag Indians from a nearby village, including their leader Massasoit.
“The First Thanksgiving 1621,” oil painting by Jean Leon Gerome Ferris, circa 1912-1915
One of these Indians, a young man named Squanto, spoke fluent English and had been appointed by Massasoit to serve as the pilgrim’s translator and guide. Squanto learned English prior to the pilgrim’s arrival after he was captured by English explorers and spent time in Europe as a slave.
Neither Bradford or Winslow’s account indicate whether the Indians were actually invited to the celebration or how they learned of it. Many historians have simply assumed they were invited. Edward Winslow’s account merely states:
“Our harvest being gotten in, our governor sent four men on fowling, that so we might after a special manner rejoice together, after we had gathered the fruits of our labors they four in one day killed as much fowl, as with a little help beside, served the company almost a week, at which time amongst other recreations, we exercised our arms, many of the Indians coming amongst us, and amongst the rest their greatest king Massasoit, with some ninety men, whom for three days we entertained and feasted, and they went out and killed five deer, which they brought to the plantation and bestowed on our Governor, and upon the Captain and others. And although it be not always so plentiful, as it was at this time with us, yet by the goodness of God, we are so far from want, that we often wish you partakers of our plenty.”
The names of the pilgrims present at the First Thanksgiving:
Susanna White Winslow
[first name unknown] Ely
Teenagers and Children:
a maidservant name Dorothy
Francis & John Billington
Bartholomew, Mary & Remember Allerton
Love & Wrestling Brewster
Damaris & Oceanus Hopkins
Resolved & Peregrine White
To the congregations of God
Illustration 9: H.J. RES 41, Congressional act that set the 4th Thursday of November as Thanksgiving Day.
Making the fourth Thursday in November a legal holiday.
Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That the fourth Thursday of November in each year after the year 1941 be known as Thanksgiving Day, and is hearby made a legal public holiday to all intents and purposes and in the same manner as the 1 st day of January, the 22 nd day of February, the 30 th day of May, the 4 th day of July, the first Monday of September, the 11 th day of November, and Christmas Day are now made by law public holidays.
Passed the House of Representatives October 6, 1941.
The history of Thanksgiving Day becomes splintered at points before 1941. It is a popular belief that President Lincoln started Thanksgiving Day, but he was simply the first President to proclaim a thanksgiving on the day requested by Sarah Hale for the purpose of a nationally unified day, this tradition survived until congress made it a national holiday.
In 1859 the Governors of the States united on the same day, and this Union Thanksgiving was enjoyed by the whole nation. But then came the war.
Sarah Hale, Godey's Lady's Book 1874
Our late beloved and lamented President Lincoln recognized the truth of these ideas [A national Thanksgiving Day] as soon as they were presented to him. His reply to our appeal was a Proclamation, appointing the last Thursday in November, 1863, as the day of National Thanksgiving. But at that time, and also in November, 1864, he was not able to influence the States in rebellion, so that the festival was, necessarily, incomplete.
President Johnson has a happier lot. His voice can reach all American citizens. From East to West, from North to South, the whole country will be moved at his bidding at home or abroad, on sea or land, the appointed day will be welcomed as the seal of national peace and the harbinger of national blessings.
Thus our own ideal of an AMERICAN THANKSGIVING FESTIVAL* will be realized, as we described it in 1860. The 30th of November, 1865, will bring the consummation.
Sarah Hale, Godey's Lady's Book 1865
Shall 1866 be the glorious year that establishes the custom forever, by the union now of every State and Territory on the 29th of November in this American National Thanksgiving?
Sarah Hale, Godey's Lady's Book 1866
The Day needs only the sanction of Congress to become established as an American Holiday, not only in the Republic, but wherever Americans meet throughout the world.
Sarah Hale, Godey's Lady's Book 1869
WHEN the last Thursday in November shall become, by special enactment of Congress, THE AMERICAN NATIONAL THANKSGIVING DAY, then the people of the United States will have three holidays, each one representing an idea not only of importance to our own citizens, but also of interest to the world.
Sarah Hale, Godey's Lady's Book 1870
We hope to see, before many months have elapsed, perhaps before our next Thanksgiving, the passage of an act by Congress appointing the last Thursday in November as a perpetual holiday,
Sarah Hale, Godey's Lady's Book 1871
Mrs. Hale was instrumental in persuading them [governors of the states] to appoint the last Thursday in November of that year for a State Thanksgiving. . She has urged, and still urges, Congress to pass a Joint Resolution, recommending the annual observance of the last Thursday of November as the day of National Thanksgiving, so that it may never be overlooked by any President.&rdquo
Let us feel that our great Home Festival is no longer an anniversary whose celebration depends upon thirty-seven State governments, or even upon the yearly inclination of the Executive. Let us have the day which Washington consecrated by his selection set apart forever as a season of Thanksgiving for the mercies and blessings of the year. Let the Forty-fifth Congress, in the name of the American people, enact that from henceforward the last Thursday in November shall be observed, throughout the length and breadth of our land, as the day of our National Thanksgiving.
Editor's Table, Godey's Lady's Book 1871
Illustration 10: H.R. 2224 1870, adopts Independence Day, Christmas, New Years and Thanksgiving as national holidays. Thanksgiving was not yet given an annual date.
&ldquoany day appointed or recommended by the President of the United States as a day of public fast or thanksgiving shall be holidays&rdquo
H.R. 2224 1870 (emphasis added)
The act of 1870, the first to recognize Thanksgiving as a legal holiday, did not set a specific date, as it did for Christmas, New Years and the 4 th of July. But, just like these holidays, Thanksgiving had already been kept for hundreds of years before this, these acts of congress were only the legal adoptions of it. It's important to note that Congress made no distinctions between Christmas, New Years and Thanksgiving. So we should consider if the label of &ldquolegal holiday&rdquo has any real bearing on the validity of a holiday?
Thanksgiving: Why some Americans don’t celebrate the controversial holiday
For many Americans, Thanksgiving is a special, beloved holiday for eating turkey – or a vegetarian main course option – and spending time with friends and family.
However, for others, the celebration is deeply controversial – as Thanksgiving has a contentious history that goes far beyond when the first feast was held.
In addition to a holiday steeped with cultural appropriation, the period of history in America is frequently white-washed – which leads some Americans to ignore the holiday.
Thanksgiving is considered by some to be a “national day of mourning”
Like Columbus Day, the holiday is viewed by many to be a celebration of the conquest of Native Americans by colonists or an embellished narrative of “Pilgrims and Natives looking past their differences” to break bread.
Professor Robert Jensen of the University of Texas at Austin previously said: “One indication of moral progress in the United States would be the replacement of Thanksgiving Day and its self-indulgent family feasting with a National Day of Atonement accompanied by a self-reflective collective fasting.”
Americans are frequently guilty of cultural appropriation in their celebrations
Young children are taught about Thanksgiving in school, where they often learn of the first feast through crafts and drawings. In addition to depictions of turkeys, the Mayflower and the Pilgrims, many children decorate Native American headdresses – which frequently bare no resemblance to the headdresses, clothes and feathers worn by the Wampanoag Indians.
These inaccurate historical references are perpetrated each year, making the battle for equality and accurate representation an ongoing one for Native Americans in America.
People disagree about when the first Thanksgiving happened
Most Americans think the three-day celebration between the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag Indians in 1621 in Plymouth, Massachusetts was the first Thanksgiving. The Pilgrims and their Native American neighbours had signed a mutual protection treaty the spring before and the feast was in honour of a successful first harvest.
But from the Pilgrims’ point of view, the first Thanksgiving – meant to be a day set aside for prayer and worship – took place in July 1623. Governor William Bradford declared a day of Thanksgiving to give thanks for the rain that had ended a drought and saved their harvest.
Others insist the first Thanksgiving took place a few years before in 1619 in Virginia.
In 1962, a Virginia state senator disputed President John F Kennedy’s assertion that Plymouth was the site of the First Thanksgiving.