The American holiday of Thanksgiving has a long tradition commonly connected to the early Pilgrims in 1621, a three day feast with their guests, Massasoit and ninety of his men.  The Continental Congress issued several annual Thanksgiving proclamations beginning in 1777.  George Washington issued the first presidential proclamation in 1789.  Among our early presidents, only John Adams and James Madison followed suit, leaving a gap between 1815 and 1862 with no Thanksgiving proclamations. Thomas Jefferson openly opposed the idea of a national day of Thanksgiving. When the practice was begun again in 1862 by Abraham Lincoln, he followed the example of CSA president Jefferson Davis in which the focus was on thanks for battles in the Civil War.

Our current celebration is thought to be the fruit of forty years of letter writing pressure by Sarah Josepha Hale. It was in the fall of 1863 that Abraham Lincoln picked up the practice that has been continued annually by every president since to call our nation to a day of national Thanksgiving. However, it wasn’t until 1941 that federal legislation established Thanksgiving as a national holiday to be celebrated on the 4th Thursday of November.

I commend particularly the proclamations of Washington in 1789 and Lincoln in 1863 linked above.  Read them and share them in the midst of your Thanksgiving Day activities.

And don’t forget the main focus – “O give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever.” Psalm 107:1 ESV

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