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"Thanksgiving Assembly"

(c) Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association, Deerfield MA. All rights reserved.
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Harvest festivals have existed in human culture since the beginning of agriculture, but the tradition of a Thanksgiving Day in the United States dates to the periodic days of Thanksgiving issued by Congress during the Revolutionary War. George Washington issued the first national Thanksgiving proclamation in 1789; he issued another in 1795. None of these holidays were set on a particular day, but in general they occurred in October or November. After Washington, presidents sporadically proclaimed days of thanksgiving. The national holiday of Thanksgiving can be traced to the efforts of Sarah Josepha Hale, editor of "Ladies Magazine." Beginning 1827, she called for a national day based on the official Day of Thanksgiving New York State had begun in 1817. By the 1840s, when this invitation was made, most of the New England and mid-Atlantic states celebrated Thanksgiving. But it did not become a national holiday until 1863, when President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed that an annual Thanksgiving Day would be observed the last Thursday of each November.


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