Thanksgiving got off to a rocky start as a permanent, uniquely American holiday.
At various times during the Revolutionary War when the outcome of victory looked impossible, General Washington would request prayers of the colonists for his beleaguered soldiers. And prayers of Thanksgiving at those rare times when the fledgling army had success.
After the war had been won and the second Constitution had been ratified by the States, Washington issued a Proclamation in 1789 designating Thursday, November 26th “for the People of the United States a day of public Thanksgiving”. It was the first national celebration.
Various States, particularly in New England, had autumn events to celebrate successful harvests. Subsequently, presidents essentially ignored a holiday for Thanksgiving until 1863. It was then Abraham Lincoln declared Thanksgiving a national holiday on the last Thursday in November.
It came after significant Union victories against the Confederate cities of Vicksburg and Port Hudson along the Mississippi, and the final denial of access to the North by Confederate forces at Gettysburg. Although it was a national celebration, it was largely only celebrated in the North.
Presidents usually (but not always) set a date for “Thanksgiving” but the date was rarely consistent. Americans got fed up during Franklin Roosevelt’s administration to the point where he commented that, “It looked to me for a while as if New England would secede from the union.”
Finally, public outrage led Congress to pass a law on December 26, 1941 (three weeks after the attack on Pearl Harbor) making the fourth Thursday in November a legal Federal holiday.
Clemency to spare the life of a Thanksgiving turkey was first granted by President Lincoln at the request of his son Tad, since it had become a family pet. The permanent tradition of granting a “Presidential Pardon” for the White House turkey was begun on November 14, 1989, by President George H. W. Bush.
From all of us at Green Pro Solutions and our family of companies, we wish your family and friends a day of relaxation, fine food, and time to express your gratitude for the many blessings you enjoy.