The best thing about Thanksgiving is gathering around the table, stuffing your faces with turkey, and enjoying the pleasant and agreeable conversation with your extended family. Right? Well, to keep the happy conversation flowing, here’s some fun facts about Thanksgiving to keep your family distracted from explosive topics (you know what they are at your house) while they digest that second slice of pumpkin pie.
We associate Thanksgiving with the Pilgrims, but the holiday wasn’t official until October 3, 1789, when President George Washington issued a proclamation naming Thursday, November 26, 1789, as an official holiday of “sincere and humble thanks.” The nation then celebrated its first Thanksgiving under its new Constitution.
It’s the sesquicentennial of President Lincoln’s Thanksgiving declaration. One hundred and fifty years ago, he declared Thanksgiving a national holiday, and asked that those being thankful also “commend to His [God's] tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged.” The President declared that Thanksgiving would be commemorated each year on the fourth Thursday of November.
The tug-of-war between Thanksgiving and holiday shopping started years ago during the Great Depression. In 1939, President Franklin D. Roosevelt moved the holiday to the third Thursday of November to lengthen the Christmas shopping season and boost the economy, which was … [ Read all ]
Posted by Hilary on November 27, 2013, under - Civil War, - Presidents, Abraham Lincoln, Myth or History, Unusual documents.
Tags: Carter, FDR, George H. W. Bush, green peas, lincoln, military, Pilgrims, Roosevelt, thanksgiving, turkey pardon, washington
Today’s Constitution Day guest post was written by Jim Zeender, senior registrar in exhibits at the National Archives in Washington, DC.
The Constitution of the United States turned 226 this year and continues to be the oldest and longest-serving written constitution in the world. It consists of exactly 4,543 words and has been amended only 27 times.
At the conclusion of the Constitutional Convention in September 1787, the attendees had various opinions on the result of the Convention. Benjamin Franklin has probably been quoted most often from his speech that day, “I confess that I do not entirely approve this Constitution at present, but Sir, I am not sure I shall never approve it.”
John Adams was not present in Philadelphia. He was in London, serving as the U.S. envoy to Great Britain. Adams received a copy of the new constitution from Massachusetts delegate Elbridge Gerry, and he later praised the Convention’s work in a letter to Jefferson, who was in Paris.
It seems to be admirably calculated to preserve the Union, to increase Affection, and to bring us all to the same mode of thinking. They have adopted the Idea of the Congress at Albany in 1754 of a President to nominate officers and a Council to Consent: but thank heaven they have adopted a third Branch, which that Congress did not. I think
Posted by Hilary on September 17, 2013, under - Constitution, Letters in the National Archives.
Tags: checks and balanes, Commander in Chief, Confederation Congress, Constitution, Elbridge Gerry, executive powers, federal government, Government, Henry Knox, John adams, President, Thomas Jefferson, washington
Today’s blog post comes from Jessie Kratz, archives specialist in the Center for Legislative Archives. If you are participating in the 100th anniversary of the parade on Sunday, stop by the National Archives to see the document that finally gave women the right to vote. The 19th Amendment is on display from March 1 to March 8.
As woman suffrage advocates marched along Pennsylvania Avenue on March 3, 1913, they were met with crowds of unruly men blocking their paths and shouting derogatory remarks.
While making preparations for the parade, organizers had made repeated attempts to secure police protection—they even contacted the Secretary of War seeking assistance from the U.S. military. Richard H. Sylvester, Chief of DC Police, had assured organizers that he could manage the situation without the military, but he ultimately failed to control the crowd.
The poor treatment of the marchers sparked immediate outrage.
The day after the parade, the Senate passed a resolution authorizing the Committee on the District of Columbia to investigate the police’s handling of the incident. The committee collected evidence and heard from over 100 witnesses, including parade organizer and suffragist Alice Paul; Julia Lathrop, chief of the Children’s Bureau; parade attendees from around the country; and witnesses who spoke on behalf of the Metropolitan Police.
The women testified about their experiences—some noted the lack of police … [ Read all ]
Posted by Hilary on March 1, 2013, under - Women's Rights, Pennsylvania Avenue, Uncategorized.
Tags: 100th anniversary, 19th amendment, committee hearings, DC Police, guest post, march, parade, Pennsylvania Avenue, Senate, suffrage, voting, voting rights, washington, woman suffrage
As the first President, Washington set many inaugural precedents, but his inaugurations were also very different in ways that would not be repeated. The oath of office is usually administered the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court during the ceremony. The first President had not yet appointed any Supreme Court Justices, and so he was sworn in by Robert R. Livingston, the Chancellor of New York. For his second inauguration, Washington was sworn in by Supreme Court Justice William Cushing. Washington is the only President whose inauguration was held in two different cities: New York and Philadelphia. Washington also set the precedent of swearing on a Bible, a tradition followed by succeeding Presidents.
The Constitution does not dictate where the inauguration should happen, and so the actual location has varied from city to building to room. Washington’s first inauguration took place in New York on a second-floor balcony of Federal Hall, with a crowd assembled in the streets below. Washington’s second inauguration and John Adams’s only inauguration were held in Philadelphia. Even when the ceremony was held in the new capital city, the location still varied. Jefferson, the first President to be inaugurated in Washington, DC, took the oath twice in the Senate Chamber of the Capitol. James Monroe caused a political firestorm in 1817 when he offered to take the … [ Read all ]
Today’s guest post comes from Susan Donius, Director of the Office of Presidential Libraries at the National Archives. This post originally appeared on the White House blog.
Did you know that before the 1940s, Thanksgiving was not on a fixed date but was whenever the President proclaimed it to be?
George Washington issued the first Presidential proclamation for the holiday in 1789. That year he designated Thursday, November 26 as a national day of “public thanksgiving.” The United States then celebrated its first Thanksgiving under its new Constitution. Seventy-four years later, in 1863, Abraham Lincoln declared Thanksgiving a national holiday on the last Thursday in November.
By the beginning of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Presidency, Thanksgiving was not a fixed holiday; it was up to the President to issue a Thanksgiving Proclamation to announce what date the holiday would fall on. Tradition had dictated that the holiday be celebrated on the last Thursday of the month, however, this tradition became increasingly difficult to continue during the challenging times of the Great Depression.
Roosevelt’s first Thanksgiving in office fell on November 30, the last day of the month, because November had five Thursdays that year. This meant that there were only about 20 shopping days until Christmas and statistics showed that most people waited until after Thanksgiving to begin their holiday shopping. Business leaders feared they would … [ Read all ]
Posted by Hilary on November 21, 2012, under - Great Depression, - Presidents, Myth or History, Pennsylvania Avenue.
Tags: FDR, great depression, lincoln, Roosevelt, thanksgiving, Thursday, washington