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Thanksgiving

The first American Thanksgiving was held in Massachusetts' Plymouth colony in 1621 to give thanks for a bountiful harvest. Fifty Pilgrims served codfish, sea bass and turkeys while their 90 Indian guests contributed venison to the feast. The next national Thanksgiving was declared by Congress after the American victory over the British at the Battle of Saratoga in December 1777. For many years Thanksgiving celebrations were haphazard with Presidents Washington, Adams and Madison declaring occasional national festivities. In 1846 Sarah Josepha Hale, editor of the influential Godey's Lady's Book, began a tireless campaign to establish a national Thanksgiving holiday in November. She was gratified when Abraham Lincoln proclaimed the first of our modern Thanksgivings in 1863. On November 26, 1941, President Franklin Roosevelt signed a bill establishing the fourth Thursday in November as the national Thanksgiving holiday.

Photo: Library of Congress


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