Thanksgiving’s History: Who Knew?


We are steeped in the tradition that the first Thanksgiving was celebrated by Pilgrims and Native Americans in 1621.

Today’s my birthday, and I’m a history geek in terms of the Declaration of Independence, the American Revolution, and the Constitution.  I get goofy every year on July 4 which is when we celebrate our independence from England and the birth of our nation.

But, maybe we should be celebrating on November 26 instead.  Our first President George Washington declared November 26, 1789 as a day of Thanksgiving to celebrate the birth of our nation and the passage of the Constitution.  Who knew?

Eleanor and Franklin D. Roosevelt celebrating Thanksgiving.

Eleanor and Franklin D. Roosevelt celebrating Thanksgiving.

In 1863, President Abraham Lincoln kicked it up another notch during the Civil War by proclaiming that Thanksgiving should be celebrated on the final Thursday in November which was November 26.  On November 26, 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt declared that the fourth Thursday in November would be Thanksgiving Day.  Why?  To spur Depression-era retail sales.

Ironically, this was the same day that six Japanese aircraft carriers left the Kuril Islands headed for Hawaii.  They attacked Pearl Harbor on my baby sister’s birthday, December 7.

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