by Diane Larson
This week we celebrate Thanksgiving. Henry Van Dyke said “Gratitude is the inward feeling of kindness received. Thankfulness is the natural impulse to express that feeling. Thanksgiving is the following of that impulse.”
Many of us, as children, were weaned on the traditional story of the pilgrims and Native Americans First Thanksgiving. The one where they celebrated for three days, feasted on turkey, lobster, and fish, and they gave thanks for the bountiful harvest and the peoples that helped them make it all happen. Festivities similar to the first one continued on an almost annual basis. These ‘thanksgivings’ were celebrations but not identified as holidays. It would take years for the formation of this day to be considered a holiday.
Story resumes below.
On September 25, 1789 congress had just passed the constitutional amendments. Present on that day was Elias Boudinot representative from New Jersey. Boudinot believed this historic event should be recognized and celebrated. According to HistoryNet Boudinot said he, “could not think of letting the session pass over without offering an opportunity to all the citizens of the United States of joining with one voice, in returning to Almighty God their sincere thanks for the many blessings he had poured down upon them.” Boudinot was feeling especially grateful because the rhetoric between the Federalist and Anti-federalist over the constitutional amendments had gotten heated. The debates raged and yet they remained, affable and were able to compromise relatively peaceably.
Boudinot went on to request a joint committee of both Houses be charged with asking the President to establish a “day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed.” Stressing that “especially by affording them [the American public] an opportunity peaceably to establish a Constitution of government for their safety and happiness.” What Boudinot wanted was a day for the citizens of this country to give thanks for this new government and, according to him the peaceful way it came about.
In 1789 congress did pass a resolution on the 28th of September requesting that President George Washington declare a day for giving thanks. Washington did go on to proclaim Thursday the 26th of November in 1789 (only that year) a ‘day of public thanksgiving and prayer’. Washington asked Americans to give “sincere and humble thanks” for the peaceable manner in which the constitution was established.
Over the years there were many such ‘observances,’ of Thanksgiving but it was still not considered a holiday. From President Washington’s first proclamation forward a day was generally set aside for all Americans to reflect with gratitude on our bounty and give thanks.
Many of our presidents had similar proclamations celebrating a day for giving thanks. The days and months varied. But then in 1863 President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed that the last Thursday in November to be the fixed and permanent day for celebrating Thanksgiving.
President Lincoln would set the holiday to a fixed date that would create a continued annual Thanksgiving holiday. This happened in part by the influence of Sarah Josepha Hale. Hale was the writer and editor of “Godey’s Lady Book”, she was a school teacher and many other things. It would be her letters that would bring Lincoln to this decision. Hale had spent many years writing articles and editorials on the topic of Thanksgiving celebrations and the necessity for it to have a permanent and fixed day.
Hale wrote letters to both President Lincoln and Secretary of State William Seward. She pleaded with them to make Thanksgiving “permanently, an American custom and institution.” One week after receiving the letters the Secretary of State drafted the official proclamation. In his statement Lincoln said that he hoped the Thanksgiving Day proclamation would help to “heal the wounds of the nation” that was embroiled in war.
From 1863 to 1939 Thanksgiving was celebrated on the last Thursday of November. Thanksgiving remained on the last Thursday of November until Franklin D. Roosevelt’s presidency and the great depression?
In 1939 Franklin D. Roosevelt was president. On the radio you could hear Judy Garland sing the ever hopeful “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”. Kate Smith was singing “God Bless America” and Louis Armstrong played “When the Saints Go Marching in.” At the theatre you could get swept up in the color and imagery that existed only over the rainbow in “The Wizard of Oz.” Be witness to all the drama and romance in “Gone with the Wind,” or watch the patriotic hopeful story of one solitary man and the affect he could have on congress in “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.” Contrasting all this, America was s experiencing the Great Depression.
In September of 1939 Germany invaded Poland, which led to Britain and France declaring war on Hitler’s Nazi state, which in turn began World War II. In this last year of the 1930s America’s saw the beginning of World War II. The depression may have been nearing the end, however the economy was far from recovered and how to reclaim our economic place weighed heavy on the President Roosevelt’s mind.
By 1939 Thanksgiving was a fixed holiday. It was also the starting point of the holiday shopping season. A season that retailers relied on for a large percentage of revenue. Thanksgiving would have landed on the 30th of November in 1939 had it not been for the retailers making a request to President Roosevelt. Retailers went to the president and requested that he move Thanksgiving up one week in an effort to allow for more shopping days until Christmas. In an eager attempt to boost the economy. Roosevelt agreed. The date was moved up one week that year to the 23rd of November as opposed to the 30th. Extra days were added to the shopping season. This lasted only two years, in 1941 it was moved back to the 4th Thursday.
While we still decorate our classrooms and homes with cornucopias for thanksgiving we could just-as-well lay out a copy of the Bill of Rights and a copy of Godey’s Lady Book and give thanks to Boudinot, Lincoln and Hale for what we now celebrate each 4th Thursday in November.
The Motel 6 in Uptown Butte was robbed this evening by a man who claimed to have a gun, police said.
No weapon was seen, Sheriff Ed Lester said in a text sent at about 10 pm.
The robbery happened at 9:15 pm. Police were at the scene within two minutes of receiving the call from dispatch, the Sheriff said. No one was hurt during the robbery.
The suspect fled the scene with an undisclosed amount of cash.
Police say that the man is in his late twenties or early thirties and was wearing a hooded sweatshirt.
Persons with information should call 497-1120<
In today's police reports, recent high winds blew down a power line, tipped a power pole, jammed a woman's screen door shut and blew a trampoline out into the street.
Early this morning a line down on Dakota Street brought the fire department and Northwestern Energy to the scene.
At the intersection of Iron and Jackson police responded to a report that a trampoline had been blow into the middle of the street.
A power pole on Basin Creek Road was leaning at a 45 degree angle, police reported.