Little do many know, but following the milestone year of 1776, George Washington also played a major role in bringing about the national holiday we know today as Thanksgiving – thanks George!
While it’s universally agreed upon that the first Thanksgiving meal was shared among the pilgrims and Wampanoag native Americans in 1621, the tradition stuck around for subsequent years. Originally, the pilgrims feasted to demonstrate their passionate thankfulness for God’s blessings.
Through varying times of the annual calendar and for differing reasons, the tradition became widespread across the colonies. By 1777, the Americans had scored a major victory by bringing British General John Burgoyne to his knees on the battlegrounds of Saratoga, New York. Shortly afterwards, the Continental Congress called for a celebration of some sort. General George Washington, as Commander of the Continental Army, concurred with congress, declaring this day in history, 1777, the first national Thanksgiving Day.
Similar Thanksgiving proclamations were made to follow, notably in 1789 where George Washington’s influence surfaced once more. Upon numerous requests, President Washington enacted the first official Thanksgiving proclamation by national authority.
Washington humbly asked all of the United States of America to take part in celebrating and show gratitude for finally being independent in addition to the final ratification of the U.S. Constitution.
Washington’s declaration continued to echo throughout history as John Adams and James Madison authorized days of Thanksgiving. Under the Lincoln presidency, the date became set in stone on the last Thursday of November following a strong public campaign for the solidification of Thanksgiving’s date.