Daily readings about people, places, and events in American history.
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November 25th
A Rich Tradition of Thanksgiving
Our nation has inherited a long, rich tradition of thanking God for his blessings.

In 1541 Spanish explorer Francisco Vásquez de Coronado and his men conducted a service of thanksgiving for the abundant food and water they found along the Palo Duro Canyon in the Texas Panhandle.

In 1564 French Huguenot colonists settled in the area of Jacksonville, Florida, and “sang a psalm of Thanksgiving unto God.”

In 1607, when the Jamestown colonists arrived in Virginia, they immediately erected a wooden cross and gave thanks for their safe passage across the ocean.

In 1619, English colonists at Berkeley Hundred in Virginia decreed that the day of their arrival, December 4, “shall be yearly and perpetually kept holy as a day of Thanksgiving to Almighty God.”

In the autumn of 1621, the Pilgrims at Plymouth, Massachusetts, held a feast to celebrate the harvest and thank the Lord for his goodness – the feast we now remember as the “First Thanksgiving.”

In 1777, during the Revolutionary War, the Continental Congress designated December 18 of that year a day “for solemn Thanksgiving and praise” for the Patriot army’s victory at Saratoga – the first national day of thanksgiving.

In 1789 President George Washington proclaimed November 26 to be a day of thanksgiving for God’s blessings and for the new United States Constitution.

It wasn’t until 1863, in the midst of the Civil War, that the country got a regular national Thanksgiving Day. Abraham Lincoln proclaimed the last Thursday in November “a day of thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father.” Succeeding presidents followed Lincoln’s example. In 1941, Congress passed a law officially declaring the fourth Thursday in November as America’s Thanksgiving Day.

American History Parade
1758
During the French and Indian War, the British troops defeat the French at Fort Duquesne in what is now Pittsburgh.

1783
The British withdraw from New York City, their last military stronghold in the United States during the Revolutionary War.

1920
In Philadelphia, Gimbels Department Stores begins what is now the nation’s oldest annual Thanksgiving Day parade.

1963
President John F. Kennedy’s body is laid to rest in Arlington National Cemetery.

1986
The Iran-Contra affair begins as President Reagan reveals that proceeds of secret arms sales to Iran had been used to aid Nicaraguan Contras.
This content is courtesy of The American Patriot's Almanac
© 2008, 2010 by William J. Bennett and John T.E. Cribb
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