Today in History: First Thanksgiving

| November 26, 2018

The_First_Thanksgiving_cph.3g04961“The character of a nation is revealed in its national holidays, just as the character of the people of that nation is revealed in the way in which they celebrate those holidays. In the same manner an individual reveals his true character more clearly in his amusements and in the way he spends his leisure time than in his work when he labors more or less under compulsion. We trust that it is not without significance that we as Americans perpetuate that holiday first celebrated at the close of the first summer of prosperity following the winter of adversity spent by our forefathers. We trust also that it is not without significance that even to this day this Thanksgiving Day is the only holiday that we hold with national significance and national approval.”
— Paul Monroe, Thanksgiving Day Address, November 23, 1926 (from the Paul Monroe Collection in Pocketknowledge)

President George Washington proclaimed the first national Thanksgiving celebration in American, marking November 26, 1789, “as a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favours of Almighty God.”  However, in 1863 President Lincoln officially called for Thanksgiving in all states, and recognized it on the final Thursday in November — a date only to be changed in 1939 by President Theodore Roosevelt who made it the next to last Thursday in November (or fourth Thursday in November).

Why so many variations of the date? That’s just the beginning of the story… for even the location of the first Thanksgiving has a dozen competing claims …

This year we celebrated Thanksgiving on November 22nd, 2018 — what seemed a little early, but was in fact right on target with the historical calendar! While Labor Day seems far away and the winter holidays fairly near … how did you spend Thanksgiving and what might it say about you?

The following articles are drawn from Proquest Historical Newspapers, which informs and inspires classroom teaching and learning:

Tips:  20181126_FirstThanksgiving

Images:

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