The American Thanksgiving Holiday

  • The first American Thanksgiving was a feast celebrated by the Pilgrims at Plymouth (Massachusetts) in 1621. It was an expression of gratefulness for God’s faithfulness and provision.
  • President George Washington proclaimed the first national day of Thanksgiving on November 26, 1789, citing a need to acknowledge “the many and signal favours of Almighty God.”
  • In the early to mid-1800’s a woman named Sarah Josepha Hale undertook a nearly 40 year letter writing campaign urging politicians to create an official Thanksgiving holiday for the United States of America.
  • In 1863, in the midst of the Civil War and seeking to encourage national unity, President Abraham Lincoln made a Presidential proclamation declaring that the final Thursday of November would be a national holiday devoted to Thanksgiving.
  • On December 26, 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed a congressional resolution moving the national holiday of Thanksgiving to the fourth Thursday of November.