Preparing for turkey time: Thanksgiving declared a national holiday

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Preparing for turkey time: Thanksgiving declared a national holiday

Dan Zalewski III
Sports Editor

On this day 152 years ago, President Abraham Lincoln officially established Thanksgiving as an American Holiday.

The tradition of Thanksgiving dates back even further. In 1621, the English settlers at Plymouth Rock struggled to maintain their settlements through the rough New England winters.

The natives of the Abenaki and Wampanoag tribes aided the settlers. Tribal leaders, Squanto and Samoset, taught the settlers to plant corn and how to fertilize their fields with fish.

The settlers and the natives decided to come together to protect each other.

To celebrate the partnership between the two, a great feast was planned. The settlers and the natives harvested their crops and gathered around a table of deer, corn and shellfish.

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Over 150 years ago, Thanksgiving was made a holiday in the US by President Abraham Lincoln (Photo courtesy of Wikipedia).

When Lincoln was president, the tradition of Thanksgiving continued to live on.

The first November under Lincoln’s administration, President Lincoln ordered a shutdown of the government for a day of thanksgiving.

In 1863, a magazine editor wrote a letter to President Lincoln, expressing her desire for an official recognition of the holiday. To this point in American history, states celebrated Thanksgiving as we know it now, but on their own separate days.

The next year, Thanksgiving was an officially recognized as an American holiday with the following proclamation:

By the President of the United States of America.
A Proclamation.
The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God.

In the midst of a civil war of unequalled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union.

Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore.

Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom.

No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People.

I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.

And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union.

In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United States to be affixed.
Done at the City of Washington, this Third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the United States the Eighty-eighth.
By the President: Abraham Lincoln