Editorial: How Thanksgiving started

Editorial: How Thanksgiving started

This Thanksgiving holiday weekend we look back at the proclamation which set the precedent for America's national day of Thanksgiving.

During his administration, President Lincoln issued many orders similar to this.

For example, on November 28, 1861, he ordered government departments closed for a local day of thanksgiving.

Sarah 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 explained, "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 authoritative 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.

President Lincoln set apart the last Thursday of November "as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise."

This document was written by Secretary of State William Seward, and the original was in his handwriting. On October 3, 1863.

We hope you and your family have a safe and happy Thanksgiving weekend, and remember those who are less fortunate, in your thoughts, prayers, and charitable donations.

Copyright 2016 WALB. All rights reserved.