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Credit ‘Mary Had A Little Lamb’ For Thanksgiving

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So, did the history of Thanksgiving begin with the Pilgrims and Wampanoag Native Americans, or what? Sure, there was a celebration of a successful harvest in the fall of 1621, and you might say that Thanksgiving is based on that feast. But the current holiday of Thanksgiving can be more credited to the author of the classic nursery rhyme, “Mary Had A Little Lamb,” Sarah Josepha Hale. She spent over 40 years advocating for a national yearly Thanksgiving holiday. In the years leading up to the Civil War, Hale saw the holiday as a way to bring hope and thanks to this nation and its constitution. When the country was torn in half during the Civil War, President Lincoln was searching for a way to bring the nation together. Hale and Lincoln agreed Thanksgiving would be a way to bring things closer together. On October 3, 1863, Lincoln issued a Thanksgiving Proclamation making the last Thursday in November to be a day for “thanksgiving and prayer.” But Thanksgiving caused a lot of angst and confusion since then, beginning as far back as George Washington. By the 20th century, FDR set the date but changed it in 1940, so that retailers could get an extra week of Christmas shopping. Believe it or not, in 1939, there were two Thanksgiving celebrations, one that 23 states followed and one the other states observed. This idea of two Thanksgiving days split the nation. Finally, Congress stepped in and fixed the problem. On Dec. 26, 1941, Congress passed a law declaring Thanksgiving would occur every year on the fourth Thursday of November. And we can all be thankful for that!

 

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