The White House Thanksgiving: History Of How Presidents Celebrate The Holiday

 Thanksgiving has been an American tradition since the country was truly a country, and for the more than 200 years the United States has been thriving, Turkey Day has been celebrated by our nation's leaders in a myriad of different ways. Some presidents went entirely---or the whole turkey, if you prefer---and dined with all the trimmings, while others ignored the holiday altogether. Our long list of presidents who have celebrated the holiday just as differently as their constituents offers a fascinating look at the history of White House Thanksgiving.

George Washington organized several thanksgiving ceremonies

President Washington was a man who loved to thank. The actual holiday we know as Thanksgiving didn't matter in 1789, but throughout the Revolutionary War, Washington was known for hosting Thanksgiving days, so it's not a wild revelation that they celebrated Thursday, 26. Issued a proclamation on November, 1789. as a public thanksgiving day.

John Adams announces two days of Thanksgiving in the spring

In the early days of the union, people weren't very upset when Thanksgiving was in November. Straight-forward as the Founding Fathers, they were big on doing their job, which is why John Adams proclaimed two days of fasting and thanksgiving in May 1798 and April 1799. His second proclamation partially read:

I recommend accordingly, that Thursday, the 25th day of next April, be observed throughout the United States as a day of solemn humiliation, fasting, and prayer; that the citizens on that day abstain from their secular occupations, to devote time in public and private to the sacred duties of religion; that they remember our innumerable transgressions against the Most High God, confess them before Him with sincere repentance, through the great Mediator and Redeemer, for our past transgressions, and through the grace of His Holy Spirit, May his pleas of mercy be disposed of and enabled to receive more appropriate obedience to his religious demands in times to come.

Later in life, Adams believed that his declaration of two thanksgiving, thus combining church and state, prevented him from winning another term in office.

Thomas Jefferson Wasn't a Fan of Thanksgiving

It's not that Thomas Jefferson didn't want people to thank in his own way; It's just that he didn't think it was the government's place to tell him what to do. In 1801, he decided not to mark the holiday with any celebration, thus starting rumors that he hated the concept of Thanksgiving. In 1802, he almost wrote a letter to the American people explaining why he didn't want to celebrate, which included a healthy dose of shadow thrown at his enemies, the Federalists. Instead, he just said that he believed in the separation of church and state, and left it at that.

James Madison declared three different Thanksgiving holidays

During the War of 1812, President Madison declared three different days of thanksgiving following a request from Congress. August 20, 1812; September 9, 1813; and January 12, 1815 were the last three official Thanksgiving holidays until Abraham Lincoln declared it a national holiday during his presidency. Madison's Proclamation in 1815 partially read:

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