President Abraham Lincoln issued a “Proclamation of Thanksgiving” on October 3, 1863, 74 years to the day after President George Washington issued his own Thanksgiving proclamation. Prior to Lincoln’s proclamation, each state would mark their own Thanksgiving commemoration.
The country was still deep in deep conflict, American against American in civil war.
It was a letter to President Lincoln from Sarah Josepha Hale, editor of the Godey’s Lady’s Book magazine, that inspired Lincoln to officially designate the fourth Thursday of each November as a national day of thanks. Hale insisted that the public had increasing interest in a unified national holiday and that if it was given official sanction it would “…become permanently, an American custom and institution.”
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