The first Presidential Thanksgiving day proclamation was on 1863.
The President makes a Thanksgiving Proclamation every year. ( http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2014/11/26/presidential-proclamation-thanksgiving-day-2014 is a site for the 2014 proclamation.)In recent years, it has become customary for the National Turkey Federation to give the President a large turkey which he pardons and sends to a farm to live out its natural life.
George Washington declared Thanksgiving a national holiday in 1789. However, the Continental Congress (president John Hanson) made the first actual national proclamation on March 16, 1776. The following year, a national day of prayer and thanksgiving was observed on December 16, 1777. The date of Thursday, November 26, 1789 was the date used by Washington, following the precedent of Thursday, November 28, 1782. The annual observance was established by Abraham Lincoln in 1863, and observed each year since then.
No. The Continental Congress did proclaim a national day of thanksgiving each year during the Revolutionary War, but the date varied each year; the first was Thursday December 18, 1777. In 1863, Lincoln declared that the last Thursday of November would be a day of thanksgiving. Presidents after followed Lincoln in declaring the last Thursday of November as a day of thanksgiving, but this was by Presidential Proclamation, and so while it became tradition it was not a matter of law. In 1939 Roosevelt pushed Thanksgiving back to the second-to-last Thursday in November, in order to allow more time for Christmas shopping, and thus to stimulate the economy during the depression. Some states followed Roosevelt's proclamation, whereas others followed tradition. Some followed both. Since states were split in their observance, Congress passed a bill requiring Thanksgiving to be observed on the fourth Thursday of November, which could be both the second to last and the last Thursday of the month, depending on the year.
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