Lib of Congress recounts a Presidential History of Thanksgiving in the United States

Asha Bajaj
4 min readNov 26, 2021

#LibraryOfCongress; #TheWhiteHouse; #Thanksgiving; #4thThursdayInNov

Washington/Canadian-Media: The White House has for long been celebrating Thanksgiving but in addition to giving thanks, the presidency has a long history with the holiday, Library of Congress (LoC) reports said.

Image: The Topeka State Journal (Topeka, KS), November 30, 1899. Image credit: LoC.

​Although Thanksgiving is celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November, but prior to 1941, Thanksgiving was observed whenever the President proclaimed it to be as it had no fixed date on the calendar.

A proclamation for the holiday on this day was made for the first time in 1789 by President George Washington, designating Thursday, November 26for the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving. marking the first national celebration of the holiday under the new Constitution.

Image: “A Proclamation.” Gazette of the United States (New York, NY), October 7, 1789. Image credit: LoC

Thomas Jefferson declined to make a proclamation in 1801 as he thought that if he supported the holiday, it would mean he was supporting state-sponsored religion since Thanksgiving is rooted in Puritan religious traditions.

At the time, Jefferson’s political foes, the Federalists used his stance on the separation of church and state as a political weapon to try and convince Americans that he was an atheist.

Jefferson addressed Federalist accusations in letters by explaining that he considered declaring fasts or days of thanksgiving to be expressions of religion and that he opposed them because they were remnants of Britain’s reign over the American colonies and he believed in “a wall of separation between Church and State” which made him open to Federalist political attacks.

He later explained he could not endorse such a holiday without conflicting with the First Amendment. He also considered days of thanksgiving the responsibility of the states, not the federal government.



Asha Bajaj

I write on national and international Health, Politics, Business, Education, Environment, Biodiversity, Science, First Nations, Humanitarian, gender, women