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Friday, November 27, 2009

Brief History of American Thanksgiving

Pilgrims from English Separatist Church sailed to America to avoid persecutions. Reaching Plymouth Massachusetts in 1620, some unfortunate perished due to terrible winter. But later the following year the survivors had bountiful harvest through the help of the native Indians. The Pilgrims decided to celebrate together with the Indians who had helped them. The feast lasted for three days. It was more of a traditional English harvest festival than a Thanksgiving. The then Governor William Bradford the English leader of the Separatist settlers sent four men to go after the wild ducks and geese for the feast. It was not known if turkey was part of the feast. Turkey was used by the Pilgrims to mean wild fowl.

William Bradford fled to Netherlands when James 1 of England began to prosecute the Separatist group in 1609. The Separatist group was formed because of their belief the church was being lead to unbiblical doctrines and teachings. As the number of Separatist increased in Netherlands they wanted to get farther away from the Church of England so they can live in peace. William Bradford and wife Dorothy Bradford sailed to America in 1620 aboard the Mayflower. Reaching American soil in around November 1620 the Mayflower compact was signed with the Indians. John Carver was elected as governor. The terrible winter was too much for the Englishmen. Half of them perished including John Carver. William Bradford succeeded the governorship.

American President George Washington proclaimed a National Day of Thanksgiving in October 3, 1789. President Thomas Jefferson was disagreeable to the idea of having a day of Thanksgiving. Through the effort of Sarah Josepha Hale a magazine editor in Boston Massachusetts, Thanksgiving was finally recognized. Hale wrote campaign editorials and letters to American presidents and governors. In October 3, 1863 President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed the last Thursday in November as a national day of Thanksgiving. American presidents who succeeded President Lincoln observed Thanksgiving every fourth of November. In 1939, November had five Thursday that year. President Franklin Roosevelt, set it up on the fourth Thursday rather than the fifth Thursday. Due to public demand Thanksgiving was set to the day of President Lincoln’s proclamation. In 1941, Thanksgiving was finally sanctioned by Congress as a legal holiday, as the fourth Thursday in November.


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