ILI thanksgiving

It’s been 160 years since former President Abraham Lincoln issued a proclamation that made Thanksgiving a national holiday.

“I do, therefore, invite my fellow-citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next as a Day of Thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens,” the proclamation stated.

Although previous presidents had called for a Thanksgiving celebration in a similar fashion, each state still continued to celebrate on separate dates. After Lincoln issued his proclamation, states began celebrating Thanksgiving on the same date, thus giving Lincoln the credit for nationalizing the holiday.

Lincoln issued the proclamation following significant events that happened in 1863, such as the Battle of Gettysburg. The proclamation was made in part to honor the fallen soldiers of the civil war and their families. Additionally, a strong proponent for the holiday, Sarah Josepha Hale – a magazine editor – wrote to Lincoln directly calling for Thanksgiving to be made a national and fixed festival to solidify it as an American custom and institution.

Her request was granted by Lincoln after spending 15 years advocating for a national Thanksgiving holiday. Now, 160 years later, people across the nation look forward to celebrating with their loved ones and spreading gratitude thanks to Lincoln.