ON THIS DAY IN UNITED STATES HISTORY
November 26, 1789
The First Thanksgiving Designated by
the U.S. Government is Celebrated
On this day in 1789, the first Thanksgiving designated by the U.S. Government was celebrated as proclaimed by
George Washington on October 3rd of that year. Up until that time, Thanksgiving had been observed on various
different dates during various times of the year. On October 3, 1863, in the midst of the Civil War, President
Lincoln proclaimed that Thanksgiving would be held on the final Thursday in November.
This tradition continued with succeeding U.S. Presidents until 1939, a year in which November contained five
Thursdays. That year, President Franklin D. Roosevelt declared that Thanksgiving would be observed on the fourth
Thursday, and then the following year changed it to the Thursday before the last Thursday to allow more time before
Christmas. Although many adopted this change, others did not and continued to celebrate on the last Thursday while
others celebrated both.
Finally in 1941 the U.S. Congress passed a bill requiring that Thanksgiving be observed anually on the fourth
Thursday in November regardless of how many Thursdays where in the month.