Which US President Made Thanksgiving A National Holiday ?
The first Thanksgiving was celebrated in the US by the Pilgrims in 1621 in Plymouth, Massachusetts. However, Thanksgiving in the US was not a holiday until President George Washington issued the Thanksgiving Day Proclamation. This was instrumental in starting the Thanksgiving Day tradition in the United Sates.
After 1621, the colonies started calling for national days so that the people could pray, fast and give thanks. Sometimes, the holidays were used for having meals to celebrate, but often the holidays were used for prayers and thanksgiving.
During the American Revolution, there were more calls for a national holiday to fast, pray and give thanks. After the Revolution, the Union had the difficult task of rebuilding a government that worked. After many years of hard work of working on a new Constitution, a national government started working in 1789.
In 1791, James Madison added 12 new amendments to the Constitution. However, only 10 amendments were passed by the US Congress and formed the Bill of Rights. To celebrate the new addition to the Congress, the members asked President Washington to declare a national holiday for thanksgiving.
Washington accepted the request and declared that the twenty-sixth day of November should be set aside as national day for thanksgiving. In his eight years as president, George Washington issued 2 proclamations for Thanksgiving. John Adams also issued two; Thomas Jefferson decided not to issue any; and James Madison issued two. However, after this Thanksgiving Day started fading as a national holiday.
Then came Abraham Lincoln, who declared that the last Thursday in November should be used as a day for Thanksgiving. And, all the following presidents followed Lincoln's directions. However, when Franklin D. Roosevelt became the president, he tried to move the Thanksgiving Day to the Christmas season to increase consumer spending. However, this was not accepted enthusiastically by the people. Finally, Roosevelt and the Congress set the fourth Thursday in November as Thanksgiving Day which is followed even today.
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