Thursday, November 23, 2023

During the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln declared a national day of Thanksgiving

The first Thanksgiving was actually not really celebrated as a regular national holiday until the Civil War, and even then, there was a lot of contention surrounding where and when that Thanksgiving actually happened, according to Before then, a national day of giving thanks was declared by the president of the United States.

What can be considered the first U.S. Thanksgiving holiday came in 1777, as a celebration for the Continental Army's surprise victory against the British at the Battle of Saratoga. At the request of the Continental Congress, George Washington declared the day in December.

In April 1789, Washington became the first president of the United States, and by October, he declared Nov. 26 to be the country's first Thanksgiving Day to celebrate God's assistance in the war for independence. He would declare another in 1795, during his second term.

Future presidents adopted the right to declare days of Thanksgiving. James Madison declared a national Thanksgiving to recognize the end of the War of 1812. By 1846, a movement of Americans began to call for a permanent national Thanksgiving holiday, a movement that didn't catch on until a large part of the country was trying not to be part of the country.

In 1863, in the middle of the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln declared the last Thursday in November as a national day of Thanksgiving. It was a means of thanking the almighty for what success that Union cause saw as the war began to turn in its favor. He was also grateful that foreign powers had not intervened for the southern cause.

The new holiday took the place of Evacuation Day, which was celebrated nationally despite not being an actual recognized holiday. It began as a local celebration of the British evacuation from Manhattan Island.

But even though Thanksgiving was a holiday intended to bring Americans together, it initially ignited a culture war before Lincoln even made it a holiday. One of the staple foods of the movement to create the new holiday was pumpkin pie, a New England tradition. Southerners saw pumpkin pie as an act of aggression to impart northern values on the South.

After the war, President Ulysses S. Grant made Thanksgiving a national holiday for Washington but left it to governors to declare the holidays in their states. Few former Confederates forgot the North's pumpkin-pie aggression, and many refused to acknowledge it. It took a long time for Thanksgiving to catch on. Still, U.S. presidents would declare the last Thursday in November as Thanksgiving year after year.

What finally bridged the divide between North and South on Thanksgiving Day? Football. Although the Green Bay Packers wouldn't be founded until 1919 and the Detroit Lions wouldn't appear until 1929, it was high school and college football rivalries toward the end of November that finally made the South give in to giving thanks. That tradition brings us together to this day. 

To read more CLICK HERE

No comments:

Post a Comment