Thanksgiving History in the U.S.
On September 6, 1620, the Pilgrims boarded a ship called Mayflower and set sail from Plymouth, England. Their destination - the New World, where they hoped to live a more peaceful and bountiful life. On board the small ship were 102 passengers braving the harsh elements of the sea and the realities of survival. On December 11, 1620, they landed at Plymouth Rock. Their first winter in their new homeland proved to be difficult and many Pilgrims perished.
With the help of the Indians they learned how to grow corn and other crops, they also learned how to hunt and fish. In the autumn of 1621, their harvest was bountiful. To celebrate and give thanks for their good fortune, they planned a feast and invited the Indians to celebrate with them.
Today Thanksgiving is celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November. It is a time to be thankful for all the blessings we have in our life.
Thanksgiving as a Holiday
In 1789, George Washington proclaimed a National Day of Thanksgiving. There were people who did not approve of this including President Thomas Jefferson. Then, Sarah J. Hale, a magazine editor, encouraged President Abraham Lincoln to reinstate the observance of Thanksgiving. Thus, in 1863, President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a National Day of Thanksgiving every last Thursday of November.
The President's Hymn - Thanksgiving Song
This is a song composed in honor of the new holiday and was heard across the nation in 1863. The lyrics were written by William Augustus Muhlenberg and the music was created by Joseph W. Turner.
- The President's Hymn Music Sheet and Lyrics Page 1
- The President's Hymn Music Sheet and Lyrics Page 2
- The President's Hymn Music Sheet and Lyrics Page 3
Every president since Lincoln proclaimed the last Thursday of November as Thanksgiving Day. In 1939 to 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt proclaimed that Thanksgiving Day be moved to the third Thursday of November; many people disapproved of this. Finally, in 1941, Congress declared Thanksgiving a National holiday to be celebrated every fourth Thursday of November.