What president made Thanksgiving a national holiday?

THANKSGIVING became a national holiday during the 19th century, several centuries after colonists first feasted in the New World.

The holiday was birthed as the US was enduring the darkest and bloodiest period in its history.

When was the first Thanksgiving?

Colonists from Plymouth, England, shared a feast with Native Americans in the New World in November of 1621.

It is believed the meal did not feature pies, cakes or other desserts due to dwindling supplies that the Pilgrims brought on the Mayflower, according to History.com.

Dishes were likely prepared using Native American methods.

The Mayflower had left Plymouth in September of 1620.

The "festival" lasted for three days, according to History.com.

Now a Thanksgiving staple, it is not known if turkey was on the menu in 1621.

"Today, however, nearly 90 percent of Americans eat the bird – whether roasted, baked or deep-fried – on Thanksgiving, according to the National Turkey Federation," according to History.com.

"Other traditional foods include stuffing, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie."

What president made Thanksgiving a national holiday?

President Abraham declared Thanksgiving a national holiday in 1863 – right in the middle of the Civil War.

His proclamation requested that all Americans ask God to “commend to his tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife” and to “heal the wounds of the nation," according to History.com.

Who was Sarah Josepha Hale?

Sarah Josepha Hale was famous for writing the children's poem Mary Had a Little Lamb – and she also was known for lobbying to make Thanksgiving a national holiday.

The prominent writer and editor routinely celebrated the holiday and urged many leaders to make it an official one.

Her 1827 novel Northwood: A Tale of New England featured a chapter about Thanksgiving.

Her final plea to President Abraham Lincoln and Secretary of State William Seward came in 1863, and Thanksgiving soon became a holiday.

Hale, who helped shape Vassar College in New York, lived nearly a century before passing away in 1879.

Thanksgiving would be scheduled for the final Thursday in every November, but President Franklin D Roosevelt moved up the holiday by a week during the Great Depression in 1939.

Roosevelt would later move the holiday back to its normal spot after "Franksgiving" was widely criticized.

What happened during the first Thanksgiving?

A man named Edward Winslow wrote: "Our harvest being gotten in, our governor sent four men on fowling, that so we might after a special manner rejoice together, after we had gathered the fruits of our labors."

"They four in one day killed as much fowl, as with a little help beside, served the Company almost a week, at which time amongst other Recreations, we exercised our Arms, many of the Indians coming amongst us, and amongst the rest their greatest king Massasoit, with some ninety men, whom for three days we entertained and feasted, and they went out and killed five Deer, which they brought to the Plantation and bestowed on our Governor, and upon the Captain and others.

"And although it be not always so plentiful, as it was at this time with us, yet by the goodness of God, we are so far from want, that we often wish you partakers of our plenty."

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