Wishing all a happy and safe Thanksgiving holiday, for many in America a time to enjoy a nice, home-cooked meal and the warmth of our families and friends. For those fortunate enough to get a little time away from work over the Thanksgiving holiday, you can thank President Abraham Lincoln for that. For it was he who, in the midst of the Civil War, issued a Proclamation on Oct. 3, 1863 that declared the last Thursday in November a "National Day of Thanksgiving." Americans have been celebrating the holiday ever since.
Sarah Josepha Hale, a 74-year-old magazine editor, wrote a letter to Lincoln on September 28, 1863, urging him to have the "day of our annual Thanksgiving made a National and fixed Union Festival," she said. "You may have observed that, for some years past, there has been an increasing interest felt in our land to have the Thanksgiving held on the same day, in all the States; it now needs National recognition and 'authoritive' fixation, only, to become permanently, an American custom and institution."
Prior to this, each state scheduled its own Thanksgiving holiday at different times, mainly in New England and other Northern states.
President Lincoln responded to Mrs. Hale's request immediately, unlike several of his predecessors, who ignored her petitions altogether. In her letter to Lincoln she mentioned that she had been advocating a national thanksgiving date for 15 years as the editor of Godey's Lady's Book.
As a part of the Proclamation, Lincoln wrote, "I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens."
Enjoy! Time to crank up the Christmas carols…